Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gamification of the classroom

Today the CollabLab welcomes Katie Owen, special education teacher at Elk Grove.  She can be reached @MsKatieOwen
I got an original Nintendo when I was 2. My dad bought me a Sesame Street game along with Blades of Steel. Now, years later, there are two things I know really well: my letters and how hockey is played.

I hear all of the time that kids these days do not go outside as much as they should and that video games teach them violence and bad behaviors. Educators and parents discuss how the flashes from the screen and fast paced movements are what cause students to have short attention spans and ADHD to be on the rise.

I hear all this, and yet I cannot help but think about all I learned from playing video games: 
  • Video games teach sequences, strategy, problem solving and logic.
  • Unlike passive activities (like TV), video games keep the mind active and alert.
  • Your hand-eye coordination, fine motor, spatial, and accuracy skills improve. You make decisions faster and think quicker. 
  • You become really good at multi-tasking and following/searching for multiple objectives.
  •  Video games got me (and students I know) reading more. Trust me. There are a lot of instructions on those screens.
  •  You learn to follow instructions (after you read them). 
  • You learn to plan ahead, manage resources (never run out of Mana), and spend your money wisely (as we have all learned when we have no more money for a Kevlar + Helmet).
  •  Which pretty much means you are learning some reading and math (sshhhhh don't tell the kids).
  •  And the one I like the most? You learn perseverance. The number one thing video games taught me is no matter how many times you need to try a level, you do not stop until you accomplish your goal.
For even more benefits and negative effects of video games, check out this site.

So now that I am a teacher, what does this all mean? This means that I am super excited about a new idea sweeping education: Gamification. Gamification is the idea of using game-related elements in non-game situations--for example, using things like levels, points, badges, and achievements in the classroom or your personal life.

This should have been our wedding cake.

We see this a lot already in our day-to-day lives. Foursquare is an app that lets you check-in to places and receive badges and points to compete with your friends. LoseIt is a weight-loss app that helps you set goals and gives you badge for accomplishments (like minutes working out, eating vegetables, etc). is a website that helps you track your finances and gives you an achievement bar for savings goals. Duolingo is a website/app that teaches you languages through a gamification experience (it is really fun).

To get a quick start on gamification, try apps like ClassDojo (for behavior mangagement), Flashcards [⁛] (for vocabulary acquisition), or Socrative (for quizzes) to jumpstart gamification in your classroom!

To learn more and chat with other educators, try using the hashtag #gamification along with #edchat, #edtechchat, or #ipaded on Twitter.

For a fun infographic, visit:
An interesting TEDEd video:
4 Ways to Bring Gamification into Your Classroom:

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