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.