Gamification has changed how I teach. It's a game-changer so to speak. There are many ways to bring gamification to your classroom. Deciding to start small is often a good choice but don't be afraid to throw yourself into a game whole heartedly.
After presenting to a group of teachers recently, the overwhelming feeling involved a sense of reluctancy. "I'm not a gamer. There's no way I can bring games to my classroom." Being a professional gamer is not a prerequisite to bringing gamification to your classroom. I had played a few video games in my time. I'm not sure however, that my high score on Galaga in the late 80s would be helpful in this situation. Regardless, the idea is to create a meaningful learning experience for your students. Classroom learning need not always be text book/worksheet driven. Personally, if my room never sees a worksheet again it will be too soon. Gamification allows for creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and most importantly, if done right, powerful situations that will allow the students to acquire the content and have it stick with them.
When my journey began a few things needed to change about my classroom. I needed to give some of the control over to the students, and why not? This is their education. They needed to be in the driver seat, making choices and interacting with the game. Once I let this go, my students became fully engaged. An engaged classroom is messy and loud. It is full of collaboration and discovery. It is a powerful environment to experience. The clock moves swiftly and the days pass quickly.
How to begin? Start small with a well known game. I started with a garden sized Jenga game. Be forewarned, it is quite large and makes quite a sound when it comes crashing down. The sound the kids will make however, is much louder. Taking time to color the end of the pieces makes the game much more versatile. We were working on a unit review. Using a set of twenty multiple choice questions the students pulled pieces. The color on the end of the piece was matched with a set of questions. The students then decided which question they wanted to complete. If we completed the entire question set without the tower tumbling, the entire class received extra credit on the unit test. The reaction of the students was nothing short of amazing. Their level of engagement was incredible. It was all I needed to start adding more....