My First Two Weeks of Gamification

I spent the last 6 days of my Christmas Break working on a Game Plan for Implementing Gamification in my AP Statistics classes for 2016.  I presented the game plan to my students on the third day of class.  They did not react to it much at all.  I must admit that I was a little disappointed.  I thought I would hear a little murmuring or muttering or something.  But no, they were very quiet and reserved.  Well OK, they were just coming back from Christmas Break and a fairly large assignment that had to be done over the break.  Maybe they thought that this was just more work on top of what I was already assigning.

Gamification does add a little extra bookkeeping work for me, but the extra work for the students is optional.   Each “Quest” culminates with a chapter test.  So after the chapter 1 tests were graded, I entered the XP (Experience Points) into a spreadsheet, made a Leader Board for each class and posted them on our class Wiki.  Then I sent out a notification through http://www.ClassMessenger.com to students to let them know that the leader boards were posted.

Note:  In general, XP (Experience Points) are earned for completing required assignments on time and AP (Achievement Points) are earned for completing extra assignments or tasks such as Stats blog posts (writing across the curriculum) and instructional videos.
leader board

 

Next we recorded AP coins.  We did that together in class on the Review Day before the next test.  Each student has a check register for recording AP coins as they are earned and spent.  I initial each entry, just as bank tellers used to do.  Students write a check to spend the coins.  I praised the students who had completed tasks to earn coins and reminded the others that there is plenty of time left for them to perform tasks as well.  I also asked students to suggest ways to study that might be added to the list of items for earning coins.
Earn & Spend AP Coins

Oh, and I can’t forget the R.E.D. (Random Event of the Day).  The students’ reactions to the R.E.D. were quite reserved at first.  But they have warmed up to them.  In one class, we had a “Dance War” where we all did the Nae Nae.  Well, not all of us.  It was optional after all.  Four students did not participate, so they lost AP coins for the day.   I did not dwell on it, nor berate them for not participating.  I initialed their entries in their check registers and we moved on.   (Remember, XP and AP have absolutely no effect on a student’s average.)

Something happened one day after school to give me encouragement.  I was visiting with Mrs. Ingram in her classroom (something that always helps me to put everything into perspective) when a student said, “Oh!  You are Mrs. Williams!  I heard that you are doing this great GAME thing in your Stats class!”
Yes!  That means that students are talking positively about Gamification .  And it means that I am going to continue Gaming and sharing my experiences with Gamification 🙂

If you like this or if you have any suggestions or variations, please comment below. 🙂
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7 Comments

  1. interesting, even though I am not a teacher. Why did the four students decline to participate even knowing they would lose points? shy, embarrassed, not dancers, obnoxious. having said I am not a teacher, I have been a teaching assistant for discussion classes in a university History class. Also did a stint of student teaching for a 4th grade class. 🙂

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    1. The 4 students were boys and I think they were just shy. They were not trying to be disruptive and they did not do or say anything to embarrass the other students. They just were not comfortable with standing up and dancing 🙂

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  2. Hello, Mrs. Williams! It has been months since you input this gaming system into your teaching. Initially, the students has been hesitant to it, how are they reacting now?

    I’m currently a teacher, I’ve picked up on a few things in the years I’ve been teaching.

    You don’t need to be disappointed that your students did not react well to the gamification. This AP Statistics class consists of all grade levels, so your students probably don’t know each other, hence why they don’t talk much. This would also hinder them to get to know and make friends with their classmates, a senior wouldn’t want to hang out with a freshman. Judging by the photos on your blog, you place the seats by rows, which won’t give the students much opportunity to casually lean over and chat with their neighbors. This also wouldn’t help those who are in need of help, since they’re shy away from asking their neighbors for help in fear of disruption.

    I teach AP Computer Science, and I understand science isn’t exciting to everybody, but everyday my students look like they’re bored to death, laying down on their desk or looking at the clock constantly. They’re distracted by the little things like the clicking sound of their pen, nothing I was teaching registered in their head. I’m not talking about those seniors who think in their last year can do whatever they want and have given up all their classes. I’m talking those students who actually loved to learn (not to place stereotypes or anything, but I’m talking about those Asian students). About 70% of my class got a 2 or less on the AP exam. I think communication is important in class.

    I think your gaming ideas are great, they would motivate the students to earn points and compete with one another… if they care enough about each other to want to compete. Maybe you could motivate communications among your students? Even with the person sitting next to them would be great. I had this student once, her grades were phenomenon, she’s this smart little thing in my class (she’s the only freshman in her APCS class) who would never, never ask for help. She later told me that she’s shy and “the big kids” scare her (no bullying going on). As the year goes by, she’s struggling and barely passing, APCS is the only class she’s failing, but she wouldn’t reach out for help from her students. I tried helping her as much as I can, but if the teacher-way isn’t helping then may the peer help could, but she refused to ask any of her classmates for help. She ended up failing the class and exam, even though she worked so hard. This was like a slap to the face, and I felt like there needed to be some changes.

    The year after, I instead placed my students into pairs and groups, at first the class was still very quiet, but day after the day the students began to communicate more with each other. My grades for that year was significantly better than ever. The year after that, I placed pick up on who each students were friends with, each student mostly has one friend or none in the class, I placed those who has a friend in a group with other friendless-students (also taken into account their grade average and improvement in the class). By the end of the year, all of the groups knew their group-mates and were cooperating very well with each other, solving problems and sharing tips. My grades that year was even higher than the last.

    I like your blog, you seem like you care a lot about your students, you put in the effort to improve your class and to make your class more fun, which I think more teachers should do instead of sticking to the traditional methods. I’m sorry your students didn’t look too thrilled about the gamification, but I want you to know that at the end of the day, you’re an awesome teacher! (I’ll have to steal some of your ideas for my class.)

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  3. I teach AP Stats and regular PreCal at a new (for me) school. I am VERY interested in trying out gamification, but I am still a little unclear about some things. So, from what I am understanding the XP and AP points are sort of like extra credit? Going into this school year, what will you be doing different? Instead of going all out on gamification, is there one or two things you would suggest I do to “get my feet wet”?
    Thanks!
    By the way, I tried to get a Donor’s Choose grant to make the Break Out boxes, but was unable to raise the funds. I a going to try a different grant source this year. I really think the kids will enjoy them.

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    1. Nope, not really extra credit. XP and AP do not calculate in their grade average. Both the XP and the AP are rewards to reinforce particular behaviors (getting assignments done on time, making an A, B, or C on a test, forming a study group, making a tutorial video, etc)
      The XP counts for leveling up (just like in a game) & leader boards & bragging rights.
      The AP is “money” that can be used for different things like choosing a seat other than the one I assigned, or asking for help on 1 question on a test.

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