The Amazing Race

IMG_0751Differentiation and Schoology and Gamification…OH MY!!! You have probably heard almost all of these words, but when you put them all together, you have some very powerful tools in your hands! You may ask yourself, “Why gamification?” My response is, “Why not?” Don’t get me wrong; there were definitely feelings of wanting to quit and visions of throwing my computer across the room while creating my very first classroom game. I had been using Schoology for a little over 2 years and I could see what I had done the previous semester just staring at me, screaming, “Just use me!” Despite the temptation to simply reuse, I persevered and created my game.

After using numerous apps on the iPads, I was trying to decide what I should do next.

One of our District Instructional Technology Specialists, Phillip Loomis (@teachloomis), was coming in to talk to me about lesson plans to wrap up the semester. When he arrived, I talked about how I wanted to do something with “completion rules” on Schoology. As we talked more I started thinking that the concept of “The Amazing Race” would work well. We talked about creating different routes for students around the building and asking them to accomplish different tasks involving balancing equations. I decided I would  have them come back to my room about half way through the race and ask them to create a video before they went back out to do more tasks. I planned for the race to take two class periods.

After the initial idea, I started brainstorming tasks to complete and formulating clues that would take my students around the building. When students got to a location, they would have to take a picture of everyone in their group, also known as a “groupie.” Every student was equipped with their iPads and they all had to complete the race, eliminating the possibility of one person doing all the work.  When you use completion rules in Schoology, you can set it up so that students must complete items in a specific order and items won’t unlock until they have met the requirement that you have set for each specific task. This was very beneficial as it didn’t allow students to create their own path during the game.

Another feature of Schoology that made this game possible was grading groups. You can set as many grading groups as you would like and this feature can also help you differentiate in your classroom. After creating the grading groups of the preselected teams, I was able to assign the grading groups to each of their route’s assignments and then students would only be able to see the route that they were assigned to. Since I was using “completion rules”, this would show one folder as a “Must Complete” folder to every student and that would tell them what team they were on.

Once all of the routes, tasks, grading groups and info cards were made, it was time to see this game in action. I was pretty nervous about creating my first game like this, but amazingly it turned out great and I think that it was something that the majority of my students will remember doing in my class for quite a while. The apps that were used to create and play this game were Schoology, Explain Everything, Pic Collage, Classkick, and Notability.

Phillip had mentioned early on that he thought I would like doing gamification lessons. I was hesitant at first, but eventually I came around and I am so glad I did!  All I can think of now is how am I going to do my next game!  In fact, my students are currently playing Survivor during our speed and acceleration unit.  If this is something that you are thinking about doing in your classrooms, don’t get discouraged, it will all come together.  There are high rewards for both you and your students and it is something that your students will remember for a long time.  Not only has gamification helped my students with balancing equations, it has also taught them how to collaborate with each other and use teamwork to accomplish goals.

Written by Nicole Burns | @janssenburns

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