Monday, October 31, 2016

Gamification Update

At the beginning of the year, I shared that I would be gamifiying my classes this year into Ms. Yeh's Jedi Strings Academy!  Unfortunately, things have gotten busy since then, and I have been lax about providing updates.  Before the calendar turns to November, let me share some of my reflections so far:

Building a game is a lot of work!  It requires me to constantly be thinking ahead and weaving things into the greater story that is tying the year together.  This being my first year, I am not quite in the mode of thinking about my game yet, and the result is that I am inconsistent with how much we focus on the game in class.  Sometimes, we go through spurts of doing a lot of activities (and adding a lot of excitement) about the game...and other times, I drop the ball and a couple of weeks will go by where I realize I didn't plan much to advance the game.  As the year goes on, though, I am finding myself more naturally in the mindset of building the game, which is helping it go more smoothly.  I wish that I could say that everything has been awesome, but I am committed to being honest on this blog, and my reality is that it is a work in progress.

In the same way, some of my students are REALLY into the game, while others don't really care much about it.  My 6th graders have been incredibly motivated, and it is fun to see them latch on!  I heard a lot from parents at conferences about how much students were enjoying this aspect of the class.  My 7th & 8th graders are more hit and miss.  Of course, I had a moment the other week where I was wishing that my older students were more engaged, and right then, an 8th girl found me during passing period asking me if I had seen her latest quest yet and if she would get a badge for it.  I have to remind myself that sometimes they just show it differently.  And, even if 100% of them don't buy in, the ones that do are still getting more out of it than if I was not gamifying - that's something positive I can hold onto!

The quality of work on the side quests is AWESOME!  Quick example (since it's Halloween): Instrument Costume Contest (thanks to everyone who voted).  The students are working really hard to put something great together, and their personalities really come out in their projects.  These quests have also allowed me to address misconceptions that I see in their thinking in a non-threatening way, since it is not linked to their grade.  I've determined that I need to run more quests, because that seems to be a huge way students are engaging (and they are begging me for more), so I hid four quests around the school and on my website today.  I'm not sure when students will find them, but I am hoping this really gets things rolling!

Many times, I hear from others in my #XPLAP Twitter chats & Voxer group, and I wish I could devote more time to developing an amazing game like theirs!  Yet, at the same time, I am working on giving myself grace - comparison is NOT a helpful thing, and I realize that much of my time and energy is being sucked away by grad school right now.  So, my October update in short: I have a start on my game, and I am loving where it is taking my class.  I'm hoping for more, knowing that it will come as I continue to learn and build.  And I'm taking a deep breath, realizing I can't do everything all at once, but celebrating the growth each step of the way!

1 comment:

  1. I love when you write. You are genuine and passionate. You share your story in a way we can all relate and share a journey we can all learn from. Gamification is such a journey and I feel like your last paragraph brings together so much of what you should embrace. Comparing yourself to others will eat you up and kill your spirit so continue to embrace who you are, where you are at in your journey and that it is your journey!!! Gamification is a learning process. First year teachers aren't the same as 10, 15 or 20 year teachers or even game designers for that matter. In my experience, pick one-two maybe three your first year and nail the heck out of them, master them and then add more elements the next year. This will fill you with happiness, fun and success of gaming and allow you to feel accomplished. It may also help with the consistency and not feeling overwhelmed. Most of all keep sharing your passion and let Gamification continue to fill you with happiness and fun. And know that we are all here to listen, talk and help if you ever need us!!!