Gaming in the classroom

Recently, I attended EdCamp OCLA. I went to various sessions ranging from “Projects teachers are doing with their students” to “Do tools really make the teacher”. One session was presented by Alice Keeler on Gamification. I was intrigued by the idea of gamification and creating levels that students achieve.
So I decided to throw it into the classroom. That week we were tackling decimals. I took state standards for decimals and organized them into levels. The first day I introduced the idea of levels by laying out the first 4 concepts and the tasks for achieving those levels. I asked, “Do you want level 5? “They answered, “No, that might be too much.” At the end of that work time, I had 4 students come up and say, “Aw. I wish we had put 5 up there!”.
The second day, I printed out the nine levels that I had come up with for decimals. I told students that the goal was to be on level 4 by the end of work time. I taught my lessons to accompany the levels and let them loose. What I found very interesting was that students seemed focused. Those who usually goofed off during work time, had direction and met the goal. Those who were usually done in 5 minutes and sat bored while others worked, had something to do when they finished a level.
By the end of the week about 1/4 had reached level 9. So I introduced level 10 of creating their own game with decimal concepts. A fire was ignited, the rest of the group wanted to get through the rest of the levels so they could begin to work on their game.
I would say about 50% are now finished with their game and helping others create theirs. Even my most reluctant students have really gotten into levels and creating their own game.
I am going to continue to work gamification into my planning and play around with it. By the way, I gave them a decimals quiz and they scored well. When we go over it, I will make the connection from the levels to the quiz and pose the question, “Which level could I go back to and strengthen?”.

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