EDIM 516

Gaming students into learning.

I reviewed several games that could be useful in the High School English Classroom. The first gaming site that I reviewed was www.classcraft.com. This website was meant as more of a classroom management tool than an actual game for students to play. It involves giving students XP points for doing positive things, which are completely up to the teacher, and taking away XP points for doing negative things such as playing on their cell phone, or handing work in late. Students are able to customize their Avatars, but I didn’t see much else for students to interact with. It is highly customizable on the teacher’s end, but is almost too much. It appears to be very time intensive for the teacher, having to log every student’s behavior for the entire period, all day long. I’ve tried systems like this in the past (ClassDojo), and found that if it is too much work, I won’t stick with it. I did like that it used “hero sharing.” When students were successful, the whole class could earn extra XP points. It was a “we rise together or fall together” mentality. I also worry that students who aren’t really into gaming would find it too weird and too much work. I believe that it targets a very narrow demographic.

I also looked at a website called www.freerice.com. It’s a very simplistic gaming site in that it doesn’t require any registration. It involves basic trivia questions (usually involving two options) in various areas. I like that it has multiple areas to work with and that it’s very easy to use. I also like that it supposedly sends rice to people in need for every answer you get correct. I don’t like that I can’t really tailor the content to what I really need. I don’t really feel like there is much area for discussion since it is really a drill and kill type of website. It doesn’t really seem to support big ideas as much as review basic concepts. In terms of Bloom’s Hierarchy, it would definitely be on the bottom. It is something students can improve upon and earn more rice.

Just for fun, I reviewed some extra sites. One that I checked out was called www.inklewriter.com. It’s a website where students can create their own Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story. I like that it enables creativity, something which is in short supply in the classroom these days. The website was also very user friendly. I don’t know if I’d qualify it as a “game” since there really is no winning or losing, unless we make it a competition to see who can write the most creative story. I couldn’t really find any downsides to this website other than the fact that it’s in BETA testing and may eventually become a paid site, which would restrict access to students’ work.

Lastly, I tried to review www.brainpop.com. I struggled to review this site because to see pretty much any content, a subscription was needed. It looks like a great site, and came highly regarded by the person who wrote the article that I read. It looks like it has most subject areas. Within each subject area it has a multitude of topics. Each topic has movies, quizzes, challenges, make a maps, make a movie, time zone x, gameup, connection to Newsela, etc. I really wish that I could explore more of the content because if I wanted to get a subscription, I want to know exactly what I’m getting. It does have gaming options, so I think it could offer multiple ways to “win” and it is something at which students can get better.

I found many of these games from a blog by Meredith Dobbs it was called “15 Computer Games to Target the Common Core in Secondary ELA.” I liked that with each game, it gave her thoughts on the website as a fellow high school English teacher. She then went on to explain how she reversed her stance on games in the classroom after having her daughter. Her two year old learned the alphabet faster with an app than with her mom working with her on her ABCs.

I also found a great blog by Alice Keeler that addresses “Gamification of the Classroom”.  The blog was great because it included a Google Slides presentation that she used to present the topic of Gamification of the Classroom to a conference in Britain. It includes many ideas for how to make learning more game-like. It didn’t just include online gaming sites, but also ways for students to compete using something as simple as Google Sheets. I definitely book marked her page to refer back to for my own classroom.

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5 thoughts on “Gaming students into learning.

  1. Aimee,
    I agree with your statement about platforms like Class Dojo. I tried it in the past and it was a lot of time and effort involved into managing your classroom, not to mention all of the other demands in our profession. One of our teachers in the English department utilizes freerice.com and has mentioned the same issues you shared. It’s simplistic, but you can can determine the questions shows to the students. She tends to use it for her lower-leveled students as a learning break and motivating factor in her classroom. She makes it a competition between her and the students!

    Have you ever tried using quizlet or kahoot? They are easy to use and students absolutely love competing against one another. You can create your own questions along with four possible choices. On your whiteboard, the questions are posed on the board along with the options, and the students must select their choice from their iPads or phones. The points are earned by the correct answer and how quick you respond to the question. It gives students immediate feedback after each question. You can also utilize it as a formative assessment as there is a report generated at the end that gives you an indication of which students are struggling or striving in the classroom. Let me know if you have other questions about these two games!

    Kelly

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  2. Aimee,
    Thank you for sharing so many resources.
    The first one you mentioned was ClassCraft, and I have set up classes but haven’t exposed it to the students. As I was creating classes, I became overwhelmed with all the “gaming” terms and eventually gave up. Just like you, I found that it was a lot of work and I haven’t taken the time to fully learn about game. I’m also concerned, like you, that it will only appeal to students who enjoy gaming.
    I’ve used Free Rice with my students, and they really like it. I agree that it is kill and drill, but they like the idea that they are donating rice to others. Some even searched, on their own, to determine if the program actually donates rice. Even though it is basic recall, if the students enjoy it and are building their vocabulary, I’m all for it!
    I looked into the inklewriter website, and I liked the style and ease of use. Thanks for sharing the different resources!
    Christi

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  3. Aimee,
    Thanks for sharing some of your ideas. It looks like you found some really cool options here . I have found that the quiz option for review is a really fun way to get kids involved and provides a good test for what they know and what they need to work on. The Choose-Your-Own-Adventure site sounds really interesting as well. I could see how a style like that would benefit a class for English or History.

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