So, with all of these questions and a complete lack of experience, I felt stuck in a kind of ideological purgatory where my professional goal of gamification didn't really seem all that attainable. For a while, it was just easier to put this on the back burner and get on with app smashing, digital storytelling, and 20% projects.
Then, I had the chance to learn about Class Craft from Ricardo Higuera at EdCampPS - and I finally found my entry point into classroom gamification.
Mages, Warriors, and Healers: Oh, My!
Essentially, students operate both individually and in teams. They take on the roles of three different character classes: mages, warriors, and healers. Each team decides how to balance the roles within their group and generates their own "recipe" for success. Students earn "powers" specific to their character class, and throughout the day the teacher acts as the Game Master. The Game Master has a lot more than just a rockin' job title - they award points and control different aspects of the game. For example, students work to earn XP (experience points) which help level up their characters. Leveling up is good because it unlocks more powers. The Game Master can also dock HP (health points) for negative behaviors and players use up AP (action points) as they utilize their powers throughout the period. The thing I love most about Class Craft is that everything is 100% customizable.
Here's a quick screencast to show you how I have customized the game for my students:
The Net Effect (Or, Why Class Craft is EduAwesome)
Gamification matters because it motivates. By introducing Class Craft, there was a new layer of energy in the room, a new excitement for completing daily tasks and working together. Now, I fully understand that in order to be completely valid, strategies need to stand the test of time. But, so far, it's so good! Students who haven't attended tutoring in a month or so were in my classroom every day after school this week. More than half of each class spent at least 2 or more days in lunch tutoring, too. Group leaders are taking their role very seriously, helping to monitor and motivate students who struggle to stay focused. Best of all, there is a hum of excitement and anticipation as we gear up for the Daily Event, spin the Wheel of Destiny, and dread the Book of Laments.