Everyone loves games – especially students. There is no better way to capture students’ attention than to say, “Who wants to play a game?” Nearly any educational topic, skill, or concept can be transformed into an engaging activity with game-like qualities. Enter gamification.
What is gamification?
Gamification is the process of taking principles of a game and applying them to a non-game setting, such as a classroom. Incorporating this strategy into your classroom can be as simple as having students use a clicker or device to buzz in a correct answer. On the other hand, it can be very complex when including video game components, such as earning points and badges, discovering bonuses that earn unexpected rewards, and advancing through levels that get progressively harder. One important factor in true gamification is that students can “play again.” It is okay for students to do a task over and over until they reach mastery. There are countless ways to apply gamification to the classroom. The key is finding the right fit for you and your students.
Pros and Cons
Like any new strategy, there are pros and cons. The pros include actively-engaged students working at their own pace, use of higher-order thinking skills, opportunities for collaboration between students, and students taking ownership of their learning. When incorporating gamification in its authentic form, the con is the time commitment needed in planning. It will definitely take a lot of time and effort on your part, but the benefits will far outweigh the obstacles.
A stress-free way to get started is to choose one subject or topic to tackle. Take baby steps. Commit to trying one or two of the suggested ideas below to get your feet wet and see how your students respond. Once they (and you) see what a positive effect it has on their learning and retaining material, chances are your confidence will grow, and you’ll want to try more.
- Like to jump in head first and get down to the nitty gritty? Check out Classcraft. This site explains everything you need to know about gamification and gives you all the tools needed to get started.
- Like to ease your way in gently? Start with the basics, and incorporate one of these apps. Each is a platform for creating multiple-choice questions to be answered on an electronic device. There are also plenty of shared quizzes to peruse if you don’t have time to make your own.
Don’t have one-to-one technology?
Pull out your arsenal of classic games, such as bingo or Scrabble. Turn a unit or vocabulary review into a bingo game. Use Scrabble tiles to spell out answers to content-related questions. Use your creativity to put a new spin on an old game.
- Want to keep lesson plans the same? Just modify the way you assign points to an activity. For example, award bonus points when specified vocabulary words are used in writing, or allocate points for correctly using adverbs, adjectives, or any other target behavior.
- Discover more ideas to gamify your classroom here.
GooseChase Create a digital scavenger hunt that will get students up and out of their seats as they create videos or take pictures to complete missions. A “mission” might be to take a photo of an example of a simple machine in the school or to videotape a team member explaining how to solve a math problem. This app is sure to bring energy and enthusiasm into learning.
For teachers who use Simple Solutions
The S2TaRCenter has numerous games that can be used to gamify your classroom. Just click on RESOURCES, choose your grade level and subject, then choose Reinforcement Games and Activities. Look for activities called “The Answer is…!” (similar to Jeopardy) or “Who Wants to be a Smarty?” (similar to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?).