Looking for “epic wins” in the classroom, I think gaming, gamification, and game thinking are the way to go. After this week’s learning on the topic, I am more excited than ever to find ways to incorporate games into my classroom next year. As I head back into the classroom after being a TOSA for 4 years, and earning my Masters in Innovative Learning, I am feeling what I think Jane McGonigal would call “Urgent Optimism.”
Gabe Zichermann’s talk left an impression on me when he showed the picture of an older man reading a book, and said, “I don’t think today’s kids are ever going to do that.” Our world is too slow for them. Whether that’s true or not, our world is definitely not their world. As educators, we need to meet our students in their world. This is the moment I realized how important games are to today’s students, and how we need to at least try to speak their language, or else we are preparing them for a world that no longer exists.
Gabe’s last bit of advice before he signed off from his TED Talk: “Get into the game with them!” This requires knowing what games they are into--and I have no idea what second graders are playing these days! How will I find out? Perhaps I will develop a “User Profile” style beginning of the year getting-to-know-you questionnaire to find out what kinds of games they like and WHY. I could use this information to gamify my classroom and make things engaging for my students.
One specific topic on this week’s list of game-based learning especially caught my attention: Badges. I’ve heard of badges and earned a few on Moodle, but I’m not even close to being familiar enough to speak on it. But the more I read, the more questions I developed. I would click on an article, run a google search, click on more articles, YouTube videos, and more, and more. I’ve decided what I really want to do next year. I want to create a badging system (or find one) that is based on the common core standards. Maybe I want the individual standards to be badges, and the strands could be quests? I also want these badges to be printable, super cute visually, and also deliverable on Google Classroom. I think I’d like students to have binders where they can place the badges they are collecting. The badge system would also need to allow flexibility to add different quests based on PBL projects, PBIS skills, ISTE standards, and digital citizenship skills and knowledge. Is anyone really familiar with badges and wouldn’t mind talking with me about them?
In "Power of Game Based Learning, " when Katie Salen was talking about missions and quests, she said, "They know where they're at, how far they've come, and they know what they need to work on." Sound familiar? Hattie says that's student clarity, which produces assessment capable learners. The effect size is off the charts when students are clear about where they've been, where they need to go, and how to get there. A badging system sounds like a great way to develop clarity, while using gamification to generate student engagement at the same time.
I realize that my first year back into teaching a class of my own might be a little exhausting--but this is a goal I can keep working towards. My whole classroom theme could be gaming! Scott, I hope you won’t mind if I ask you a few questions here and there next year!