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Blended Bites Blog

Gaming Education While Reaping the Benefits

Jessica Anderson

I LOVE the first day of school! The energy is contagious, the students are excited, and it's that one chance to really hook their interest. Today was that day! I am excited to say my introduction of gamification and the blended classroom went over like an unlimited buffet at an ice cream shop!

It started with students entering a wonderfully furnished room with "Off Limits" signs. :) Yes, it's a little devious, but I didn't want them to feel like it was just given to them. I want them to earn it and feel like they have to work hard to achieve the goal of "living the good life."

I got MANY questions about, "when do we get to sit in those chairs?" and "how do we get over there?"This is exactly what I wanted to have happen. It was at this point that I swooped in and told them they were all plane crash survivors and that they were stranded on the Isle of Nosredna.  I didn't tell them that Nosredna is just Anderson backwards...they'll figure it out soon enough and until then I'll just internally giggle. I painted a picture of the game including their roles as avatars and survival companions. I pointed out that everything they do in the game from mastering Battles, to Genius Hour, and mini-quests would determine their survival on the island. I told them they would need a certain number of XP to get to the "beach" and "shelter" and that those XP would only continue to grow if they kept their HP (health points) up. This means successfully self-managing their learning, coming prepared everyday, and being respectful and courteous to their peers/me and their learning. This information even turned a somewhat attention driven kid from distracting to quiet and inquisitive. (I gave myself an air high five on that one! I was awestruck by the power of the game!)

Besides promoting the game, I tried to instill the idea that skill development is more important than regurgitation, and progression through failure is another great and acceptable way to learn! I also informed them that I expect them to self-manage their learning in a self-paced environment, and warned that if I saw little progress and goofing off that I'd put them on a "learning track." When asked what a learning track was a student piped up and said "she's going to give us deadlines. we don't want that!" Haha, and so the beginning of peer pressure in a collaborative environment starts!

I'm excited to see what the next few days bring as we hand over iPads, set-up the game components, and start on our learning quest on Isle of Nosredna

Stay tuned...