Remember to follow our class on twitter @QueenCarnduff
Join these 5th graders as they travel through the Kingdom of Carnduffia where they must fight against the evil wizard, Bor-Doom, in hopes of rescuing their beloved Queen...
Watch this video for more information about our gamified classroom!
Remember to follow our class on twitter @QueenCarnduff
Some time has passed since my last post. I am going to attempt to do a better job of updating this blog on a more regular basis, as the idea of gamification has started to pique the interest of other educators. To build upon that excitement, I will continue to share our journey, in hopes that you too, will one day create an adventure of your own.
Before I overwhelm you, let me state, again, for the record, that there is no wrong way to gamify your classroom. Many people stop before they even start, thinking that it is too difficult, too time-consuming, too confusing, too much to do. So they Don't. Do. Anything. But what if I told you that anything you do, is more than you were doing before, which makes it that much better!
Think of gamifying your classroom as a continual process. Take it one step at a time. DON'T try to do everything at once, and MOST importantly, DON'T do this alone! Make sure that your students are a part of the creation and everyday running of your game. Have them come up with ideas, have them create the rules and consequences, the rewards and the challenges! Have them create avatars, levels, and classroom decorations! Have them become teammates and cohorts. SAY YES!!!! Encourage creativity and outside-the-box thinking! Not only will your game be that much more amazing, but you will also have built incredible bonds and relationships with your kids that you may not have been able to do before. They will feel a sense of pride, responsibility, and ownership in and of the classroom, which is something really quite extraordinary.
This year, we have started a Twitter account for the classroom so you can follow our adventure @QueenCarnduff. There are pictures and videos of the Kingdom and of my Questers. The next few posts I write here will cover different aspects of the Carnduffian Quest, in order to explain what the game is really about. Stay tuned!
When we began this adventure, it was very important to me that the students were invested in what we were creating. A teacher can demand, force, cajole, plead, beg, and threaten, but why bother if you can get your students to WANT to do the work? In my opinion, it takes all the ickiness out of the equation.
I really wanted to try gamification with this specific group of students for a couple different reasons. 1) I have them for two years, so we could start the game this year and be able to continue with it next year and 2) I am BLESSED with a very high performing, intelligent group of students this year, but we have been struggling with them being self directed learners. I was looking for some way to motivate my high students to reach even higher, and this seemed like a great way to do that. We will get into goal setting and challenges on another post.
So, back to student ownership. I began by talking to some of my boys whom I know LOVE video games and aren't too interested in going the extra mile in school. I explained my idea and asked them to help me come up with gamer's lingo and ideas on what type of game we could play.
Once I got them on board and the rest of the kids were interested in what was happening, I opened it up to the whole class for a brainstorming session. I knew what I wanted it to be, but I wasn't sure how to get there. The class helped me "find the wood to build the bridge" so to speak. The kids had some fantastic ideas about levels and challenges and it just kind of grew from there. They came up with the idea of battling a minion in order to advance to the next level. It was their idea to use minecraft hearts instead of slashes on the clipboard, as well as use avatars to travel through the castle. The concept of the levels getting progressively more challenging was their's too. To be honest, they are teaching me a lot and I LOVE it!!!
Now that we have begun, they continue to come up with fantastic ideas that they want to try and they post them in Schoology in our Updates discussion board. We have also worked in small groups to come up with different projects and assignments that relate to what we are learning AND are interesting and fun to do. No one knows what's fun for a 4th grader more than a 4th grader.
I have always encouraged choice and free speech (within reason) in my classroom. It is a "Carnduffocracy" a democracy where Mrs. Carnduff has the final say. This encourages students to voice their opinion and stand up for what they believe in. It fosters open communication and a sense of family and teamwork. Even if I have the same idea, it just sounds better when it comes from one of them ;).
When children have a feeling of ownership, many things tend to happen. First, they feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for what they have created or achieved. Second, they begin to become more internally motivated, because, after all, it WAS their idea or their choice, not the teacher's. Third, they have more fun, which leads to more learning, which is, after all, the whole point, is it not? I mean, for the first time in my teaching career I have students asking me, BEGGING me, "PLEASE, can I work on my 5 paragraph essay?" or "Can I write a summary of my book for 5XP?" I mean, come on?! This is awesome!!! And it's all them!
Most importantly, working together to create something like this has been a huge relationship and community builder for all of us. We are able to capitalize on the different talents of the group and work towards a common goal. We celebrate together and we overcome obstacles together. Building relationships is not something that can be taught, but it is something that can be accomplished.
Welcome, brave travelers, to the Kingdom of Carnduffia.
You are now entering the castle, where the terrible wizard,
Bor-Doom has tried to take control.
The beautiful, talented, intelligent, and amazing Queen Carnduff
has valiantly been trying to fight him off,
but she needs your help!
The wizard, Bor-Doom, has imprisoned the Queen in her throne room,
and only YOU can save her!
This journey is fraught with perils and you may need the help
of your fellow guild members in order to survive.
You will fight monsters (quizzes, tests, assessments, etc.) go on quests (projects), complete challenges (activities) and even participate in battles and duels
(class competitions, group games).
Although it will be dangerous and daunting,
the rewards will be great,
for those of you strong enough to survive…
All good stories begin with, "Once Upon a Time", and so shall this one...
Once upon a time (about a month ago) Queen Carnduff, (formerly known as Mrs. Carnduff) traveled to a far off castle (Viking Middle School) to learn from the wise mages (the district tech trainers) about Gamification and how to bring fun and games into kingdoms (classrooms) across the land. The Queen had always been one to incorporate fun and creativity into her classroom (she was/is not humble) but this, well, this was different. This was the opportunity that she had been waiting for. This was the opportunity to try something totally new, something different, something exciting.
On that fateful day, a tiny seed was planted in the Queen's mind. That seed took root, and overnight had grown into the beginning of an idea. But that little seed of an idea needed more than just the Queen in order to grow. It needed creative thinkers, problem solvers, children with imaginations, and out of the box thinking. It needed to be nurtured by digital natives, gamers, and minds that could help it become what it was really meant to be.
The Queen wanted to play a game. Not an ordinary, every day, mundane game, but an all encompassing, role playing, year long epic adventure game. One that incorporated every aspect of the classroom, from behavior to academics, from math to social studies. It had to span the standards and the hierarchy of higher level thinking skills. It needed to challenge students to go above and beyond, to do more than what was expected, to push themselves. So she brought her half formed ideas and excitement to her loyal subjects (fourth grade students) and together, they began to create something spectacular. Thus, the Carnduffian Quest was born.
This game is still in its beta testing stages. It is not perfected, nor is it even complete. There will be changes made, glitches corrected, and updates to perform. However, in the couple weeks since the Quest began, the class has already seen some very positive changes.
It is my hope, that by documenting and sharing this adventure with you, that perhaps, other kingdoms may come to join ours in the quest to become self-directed, self-motivated, independent learners and thinkers. Let the games begin!