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Subject: Gamification Kit for Kids (or the classroom) rss

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Dustin Staats
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Hello BGG Community!

My name is Dustin Staats. I host the podcast Board Gaming with Education and we are working on a gamification kit for various learning environments. This is a physical kit that can be used to develop community culture, increase engagement, and reinforce positive behavior. We're currently starting playtesting in additional classrooms/learning environments now.

In the kit, players/students create characters, level up, earn EXP, earn achievements, unlock items, and go on RPG adventures (that can be tied to learning objectives).

Is this something you would be in interested in?

Thank you in advance for any feedback or insight! I'm happy to discuss this topic as well.
 
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Wilbert Kiemeneij
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This sounds interesting. What levels is this aimed at? Is this supposed to part of a project, or a project in and of itself? How much time should be allotted for this? What subject matter is (or can be) integrated into this?

Can we preview this somewhere?
 
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Sounds cool. Like a physical version of Classcraft. I use Classcraft in my classroom and the students love it.
 
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Dustin Staats
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Quote:
What levels is this aimed at?


We think the kit would be best suited for 4th grade (age 9) and older. Though, we are doing playtesting with 3rd graders (age 8).

Quote:
Is this supposed to part of a project or a project in and of itself?


And that is the ultimate goal! Solving these challenges. We really want to streamline a physical kit that can be transferred to different learning environments. And teachers will be able to add-on/adapt different parts of the kit as they see fit.

The current prototype comes with 80 different characters, items, character creation handouts, and achievements. It comes with a 20+ page teacher handbook that includes some tips for implementing this as well, and PPTs that go with the four different RPG story themes

Quote:
How much time should be allotted for this?

It should be about 20-30 minutes a week for the RPG adventure. However, you can implement learning objectives as a part of this adventure.

Quote:
Can we preview this somewhere?


Yes! We have recorded four podcast episodes (with short blog posts) about our design choices and using it this past quarter.

http://www.boardgamingwitheducation.com/gamification-1 <-- this is the first episode!

Please let me know if you have any other questions! I've answered some other questions on this thread as well: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2180414/gamification-kit-cl...
 
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Dustin Staats
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Sounds cool. Like a physical version of Classcraft. I use Classcraft in my classroom and the students love it.


Very similar! But we are hoping to do some things that Classcraft does not seem to do, like RPG storylines, different themes, and character diversity.

If you're interested in learning more, we are discussing it on this thread as well:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2180414/gamification-kit-cl...
 
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dstaats1 wrote:
Quote:
Sounds cool. Like a physical version of Classcraft. I use Classcraft in my classroom and the students love it.


Very similar! But we are hoping to do some things that Classcraft does not seem to do, like RPG storylines, different themes, and character diversity.

If you're interested in learning more, we are discussing it on this thread as well:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2180414/gamification-kit-cl...


How are RPG storylines different from quests lines in Classcraft? In Classcraft I have several on-going quest lines for students to work though. I can make them have as many tasks or encounters as I want. Different themes would be nice. More character classes would be cool.
 
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Kathryn D
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I remember a couple times as a kid gamification was used in the classroom. I think it can be a very bad idea for a long term project. Sure kids get super invested in it but it tends to highlight teachers natural biases. For example the first time it was used was for a literature unit in 4th grade. Our group did really well and might have even won but the thing I still remember is our group getting creative and dividing up a poem into sections (Sick by Shel Silverstein) and our teacher declaring it invalid because one of us was supposed to memorize it and present it. I found it rather frustrating because we had a creative solution to the unfair issue of one person doing all the work of memorizing the poem. (I actually still can remember a good chunk of it by heart.). I don’t remember very much from that year but I do remember that lesson about what was a rather unfair ruling on my teachers part. I had another experience in 7th grade when we did a 1920’s unit with a stock market simulation. That one I did an amazingly detailed timeline for the 1920’s including a bunch of lesser known events and got almost no extra credit points, which was absolutely ridiculous because I didn’t do it to boost my grade in the class (which was probably close to 100%) but to get more currency for the game. Had I been a lower performing student I would have gotten a decent amount of currency for the game which was probably not a great lesson for me to learn (extra credit really doesn’t pay off). That also awoke some cheating as some of my classmates broken in and looked at the lesson plan in order to know what the stock market was going to do and when it would crash. Given our grades were tied to it, it ended up being blatant cheating, which wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t turned into a game. At least I didn’t see any other cheating issues with my classmates until high school when the stakes got a lot higher.

Kids already have a lot of awareness of how sexism racism and bullying affect them. Gamification can put those issues into much sharper focus and highlight for kids how much their teachers are a part of that problem. Teachers on the other hand tend to be a bit blind to their own internal biases. It’s one thing for a teacher to make an unfair call, heck it probably happens on a small level on a daily basis but when there is a game attached those small bits of unfairness tend to be made a whole lot bigger in the eyes of a child. Neither call on my teachers parts was one that was even that big, they just ended up being a lot more unjust when there was a game attached.

I am reminded of a kid living with us last year who was years behind his peers because of some bad decisions on his parents part. Struggling to fit in with a teacher who was incredibly bad at figuring him out. It got to the point were a lot of the other kids noticed he wasn’t getting treated fairly and I feel like a game would have only made it much more clearer. Sure the kid did stuff to get in trouble and probably was the worst behaved in his class but he always ended up being treated far more severely than his peers when they did the same or equivalent actions. Those sort of discrepancies tend to get noticed easily by kids.
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Dustin Staats
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Quote:
I remember a couple times as a kid gamification was used in the classroom. I think it can be a very bad idea for a long term project. Sure kids get super invested in it but it tends to highlight teachers natural biases. For example the first time it was used was for a literature unit in 4th grade. Our group did really well and might have even won but the thing I still remember is our group getting creative and dividing up a poem into sections (Sick by Shel Silverstein) and our teacher declaring it invalid because one of us was supposed to memorize it and present it. I found it rather frustrating because we had a creative solution to the unfair issue of one person doing all the work of memorizing the poem. (I actually still can remember a good chunk of it by heart.). I don’t remember very much from that year but I do remember that lesson about what was a rather unfair ruling on my teachers part. I had another experience in 7th grade when we did a 1920’s unit with a stock market simulation. That one I did an amazingly detailed timeline for the 1920’s including a bunch of lesser known events and got almost no extra credit points, which was absolutely ridiculous because I didn’t do it to boost my grade in the class (which was probably close to 100%) but to get more currency for the game. Had I been a lower performing student I would have gotten a decent amount of currency for the game which was probably not a great lesson for me to learn (extra credit really doesn’t pay off). That also awoke some cheating as some of my classmates broken in and looked at the lesson plan in order to know what the stock market was going to do and when it would crash. Given our grades were tied to it, it ended up being blatant cheating, which wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t turned into a game. At least I didn’t see any other cheating issues with my classmates until high school when the stakes got a lot higher.

Kids already have a lot of awareness of how sexism racism and bullying affect them. Gamification can put those issues into much sharper focus and highlight for kids how much their teachers are a part of that problem. Teachers on the other hand tend to be a bit blind to their own internal biases. It’s one thing for a teacher to make an unfair call, heck it probably happens on a small level on a daily basis but when there is a game attached those small bits of unfairness tend to be made a whole lot bigger in the eyes of a child. Neither call on my teachers parts was one that was even that big, they just ended up being a lot more unjust when there was a game attached.

I am reminded of a kid living with us last year who was years behind his peers because of some bad decisions on his parents part. Struggling to fit in with a teacher who was incredibly bad at figuring him out. It got to the point were a lot of the other kids noticed he wasn’t getting treated fairly and I feel like a game would have only made it much more clearer. Sure the kid did stuff to get in trouble and probably was the worst behaved in his class but he always ended up being treated far more severely than his peers when they did the same or equivalent actions. Those sort of discrepancies tend to get noticed easily by kids.


Hi Kathryn,

Thank you for your reply! I read your message the other day, and I’ve had some time to think about this. I cannot speak to your particular experience as a student or the other example of another student you gave. I am sorry to hear you had a negative experience with games in the classroom.

Unfortunately, teachers do not always get things right (we are human ). Though, if I could speak to some of the things you mentioned in a general sense:

I agree with you that there is a competitive nature in some gaming activities or elements in the classroom. For example, a review game (like Jeopardy, I do not personally use this game, but I use this as an example because most everyone knows this game) may have several teams and each team competes to earn points. If one student, or one group, is not doing well, the competitive nature of the game can highlight this fact.

However, a great gamified classroom (or game-based learning activity), allows for students to have different opportunities to collaborate (not compete) with their classmates, and to contribute not selfishly take from the culture of the classroom.

Of course, teachers need to be aware of students who are struggling to find a way to highlight their strengths I think gamification allows for teachers to find strength in different students by allowing for different opportunities to reinforce positive behavior.

I think in your examples, there are a lot of layers at work here, outside of a gamified classroom like:

Learner autonomy in the classroom- students who are given their own choices to decide the best way to learn. I am not sure the exact details of the projects you mentioned, but it seems like these teachers missed out on a great opportunity for allowing for learner autonomy to strengthen the learning process.

Classroom management- creating clearly defined guidelines for your classroom can help to minimize some of the issues you mentioned. And increase positive behavior and eliminate negative behavior, like bullying. By simply gamifying a classroom, this will not automatically create a great classroom management structure. I do think that it may help teachers understand and identify some strengths of their classroom management system and some areas that may need improvement.

Game-based learning versus Gamification versus project-based learning- I guess I would have to know more about the two examples you mentioned. Based on what you described, it seems like the first one may fall under project-based learning, and the second may be a game-based activity. It is hard to say.

Educational behavioral psychology- Connecting with and helping students that are struggling is always a challenge, no matter what strategies we employ. The hope, however, is that a strong gamification system can help to provide other opportunities, or to connect with students they may be having a hard time in class, for whatever reason. I think it becomes another tool in our tool box!

In the end, a gamification kit does not solve everything, instead it helps to create opportunities to develop a stronger learning environment. And I wonder if it is a tool that other can find useful as well.
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Dustin Staats
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wdavids wrote:
dstaats1 wrote:
Quote:
Sounds cool. Like a physical version of Classcraft. I use Classcraft in my classroom and the students love it.


Very similar! But we are hoping to do some things that Classcraft does not seem to do, like RPG storylines, different themes, and character diversity.

If you're interested in learning more, we are discussing it on this thread as well:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2180414/gamification-kit-cl...


How are RPG storylines different from quests lines in Classcraft? In Classcraft I have several on-going quest lines for students to work though. I can make them have as many tasks or encounters as I want. Different themes would be nice. More character classes would be cool.


I will have to look into these! When I use Classcraft I either did not notice them, or they were not available at the time.

How do the quest lines work exactly? Do they come with different story lines?

Are they tied to learning objectives?
 
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An infinite number of quests containing an infinite number of encounters within each quest are able to be created. The progression in the quests can be tied to teacher control or to Google Classroom where assignments can be linked in. Graphics and fluff text can all be incorporated of course. I have a quest that has the students reading books from different genres for each encounter. I have another one where they are passing speed tests in arithmetic for each encounter. Then I have another one where they have to demonstrate growth mindset in a variety of ways. I use them for tasks I want the students to do which aren't graded. Then also Classcraft has the boss battles, where students all collaborate to battle bosses that ask them content questions I generate.
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