Monthly Archives: November 2015

Creating Spaces to Gamify the Classroom

Creating Spaces to Gamify the Classroom

by Aleta May, M.S., Ed. and M.A., Ed.

EDET694 Practicum Internship Class with Dr. Lee Graham

Essential Question: How Does Gamification Lead Me Toward Engaging Student Learning With Personal Confidence?

By entering into Givercraft, I have learned about how one piece of gamification can be so entwined into the curriculum that students (and teachers) wonder how learning could NOT be included as part of the learning experience. One thing I considered is that for a long time drawing pictures to express reading comprehension has been viewed as a normal catalyst to written expression. Why not use the platform of an interactive game to draw by building scenes related to the literature being read? This is what my students and I accomplished, along with the knowledge of an experienced gamer, a co-teacher at my school.

Naturally, then I decided to explore other gamification options. Upon reading an article by Kingsley & Grabner-Hagen (2015), I learned about 3D GameLab that has since been renamed Rezzly. In this article, Mr. Wallen, a 5th and 6th grade teacher, “gamified his classroom through 3D GameLab, a quest-based learning platform where students earn XPs, badges, and awards competing against themselves to progress through hierarchial tasks” (p. 55). Some things that caught my attention are were how quest chains were used to gradually increase difficulty in science concept application, the way hyperlinks to sites like BrainPop, and Bill Nye’s YouTube science clips were embedded into the quest to build background and specific science vocabulary, and how these concepts and vocabulary words/phrases were viewed within real-world contexts that were not artificially separated as secluded or outlying definitions. Students also have choice in what they will learn first, as long as the concept is not above one that must be learned prior as a building block. At the end of a quest, students compare, draw parallels, and consolidate information to answer a question that has been installed into the quest.

In this model, mastery learning is the goal; it is accomplished in a game format that includes quests and badges, points and awards to move up through the levels of curriculum ( Mr. Wallen used the backward design principle—beginning with a big idea based on common core standards for science at particular grade levels. In this case the quest began with “the principle that matter cannot be created or destroyed” (Kingsley & Grabner-Hagen, 2015, p. 55). Now I realize that mastery learning has it’s beginnings back in the days of games such as Math Blaster. Mastery learning has a place in the realm of gamification, particularly when content does need to be absorbed to scaffold learning. Creativity can be added to a game quest; such as when using it to encourage students to synthesize information from literature; by using a project based approach along with the quest where students use iMovie to act out what they have learned, or creating a storyboard to write their own script.

Rather than asking, “What’s work knowing or doing?” students currently ask “What do I need to do to get the grade I want?” (Haskell). As teachers, “Our Job as educators is to loosen the restrictions on how they learn and apply the context to what they learn” (Haskell). Broad choices connected to standards allow students to choose ‘what and how’ of learning, while we as teachers apply the meaning to that. Students choose activities based on their own schema. Module or text readings can be changed to be parts of quests, along with videos and activities (Haskell, 2013). This makes me think of some Environmental Science folders on my shelf that although have wonderful pictures to go with the text, could be used (and credited) in a way that is paired up with up to date video links on the same topic.

In summary, I think of gamification overall not only as a way to motivate learning, but as an opportunity for students to have yet another way to express ideas collaboratively with each other, create individually to share with a learning group on a shared topic, and to pursue personal interests (generally delving deeper into joyful, intrinsic learning). As mentioned earlier in this blog, Math Blaster started out early, first introduced in 1987, as a way to use game play to motivate practice of math facts. This method does place students at an individualized level, allows the student to practice skills repetitiously in a fun way, and leans the student toward math fluency to assist him/her in learning deeper applications of math. From here, students can more confidently branch out into collaborative building in games like where building is required. My experience this semester is a giant step in motivating me to reach students in this manner. They were my best cheerleaders to bravely venture out into engaging learning methods outside my normal comfort zone!


Haskell, C. Ed.D, Boise State University (retrieved on


Haskel, C., Ed.D. (2013, March). Understanding quest-based learning.

Whitepaper, 1-4). Retrieved on 11-28-15

Kingsley, T. L. & Grabner-Hagen, M.M. (2015). Gamification:

Questing to integrate content knowledge, literacy, and 21st

century learning. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 59(1), 51-61. Blended learning: Estimating project scope

successfully     Retrieved on 11-28-15

Rezzly Heroic Learning.