Tech Throwdown: Gamifying Your Classroom and Engage Your Students

gamifyingThe question still lurks to most teachers as to what exactly is “gamification?” Gamification is applying the game design technique and mechanics to engage and motivate students to achieve certain goals. I feel that there are certain benefits to gamifying your classroom such as:

Gamifying encourages teamwork, creativity, fun, meaningful choices, innovation, knowledge retention, and focus.

• Gamifying also promotes better behavior or specific behaviors, progress tracking, and immediate feedback.

The idea of gamifying your classroom can be completed in different ways and on many different levels. You can use digital badges and stickers, tangible badges and stickers, or not. You can gamify a unit, a lesson, or a whole course. Websites such as Classcraft can help you organize your classes, or design your storyline for the game play all on your own.

There are two gaming elements when it comes to gamification: game dynamics and game mechanics. Game dynamics deals with the more emotional side of the game, such as the progression, relationships, emotions, and how the story progresses. The game mechanics encompasses the rules of how the game is played, leaderboards, badges, levels, winning conditions, and resources.

When gamifying my own classroom, I like to base the points that students earn for the game on things other than the assignments that they are supposed to turn in. I include activities or actions such as behavior, extra projects that the student may choose to do, working well together, turning things in on time, bringing back signed papers, and other measurable activities. However, you have the freedom to design your game and base points on anything your heart desires.

There are many sites out there to use for test reviews, letting students build projects, and helping present information. I don’t use every site I know every day because I don’t want my students to become bored with with the games. However, there are some sites that I use almost daily whether it be in the classroom or while tutoring.

gamifyMy top 3 sites to use to engage the students are:

1. Skoolbo is a numeracy and literacy focused site/app. It is great for elementary students, or students who struggle in these subject areas. This spiraling program grows as the child masters the content. The teacher also has the ability to customize the program and set specific curricula for their students. Students love being able to build their own avatars!

2. Quizizz allows you to create and play awesome multiplayer quiz games, both in class and at home. The homework button allows you to complete a test review in class, then students can go home and do it as many times as they want to review. Once they finish going through questions, they have the ability to look over their answers and see the correct answers. Students love the memes and the ability to make them within Quizizz.

3. ClassFlow is the all-in-one teaching tool for creating and delivering interactive multimedia lessons to students. With ClassFlow, you can engage students through interactive questioning and polls with instant results. Students can connect their own devices in seconds. ClassFlow provides rich formative assessments. Students are truly engaged because they all get to answer every question through their own device and can interact with you through their student cards.

As a middle school educator, keeping students engaged in what you are teaching can sometimes be a challenge. However, with the internet and the ability to gamify classrooms the possibilities are endless. I know that some educators find gamifying a bit overwhelming, but just give it a chance and your students will love it and will thrive in your classroom.

About the Author:
Andrea Tolley has been teaching at Greeneville Middle School in Greeneville, Tennessee for 15 years. For 13 of those years she was a Language Arts teacher and she has been teaching Microsoft IT Academy for two years. She served as team leader for 10 years and is currently serving on the district IT Academy team. She has presented at many conferences and has even had the honor of traveling to London to present at BETT. Learning and helping others learn is her passion. She believes that students don't care what you know until they know how much you care. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time on the lake fishing and was a pastry chef before she became a teacher. She tries to hide her culinary skills because she hates eating cake! Wedding cakes are a pain when you are trying to teach school. She did teach her summer school kids how to make chocolate pies from scratch.