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Week 11 Blog Post EDET679: What is the game you are thinking of writing up for your classroom?

Essential Question: What is the game you are thinking of writing up for your classroom?

My game will be interrelated activities that guide students through a book and use Classcraft as a platform for collecting and using points throughout.

The book read in class blends well with the avatars in Classcraft: Spirit Animals Wild Born, by Brandon Mull 680L ages 8 to 10. In our dual language program, this book would not be used until 5th grade; they and can begin to understand the plot and characters of a novel too. Within an engaging learning context, students create their avatars (also earning clothes and powers for the avatars), earn points, level up, and help each other by working in learning groups and sharing points or powers.

As a teacher, my primary goal is increased reading, writing and vocabulary skills. I have added outside activities that tie in with these goals; such as writing a letter to the character, and gaming with vocabulary words from the text to build their comprehension, chapter by chapter, within the book.

First, students will need to learn about how earning powers work, learn about leaderboards, different types of points. This is a natural Segway for working in groups helping and sharing). A great introduction for the students will be to go to the gaming site already build for Spirit Animals Wild Born.

At this site, students learn about the ceremony that all 11 year olds participate in find out whether they have a spirit animal; they drink Nectar as part of the process. After reading two chapters, they can put points from this game into the Classcraft platform.

Some activities will include Character Bingo, and a Wild Born Story Map Discussion Game. The game uses sets of cards; for each of the main characters and guides students to notice character differences. Meanwhile, they will be earning points to put into the Classcraft platform. Here is the scale:

The Scale will be:

HP (Health Points) 20

XP (Experience Points) 0

AP (Action Points) 30

GP (Gold Pieces) 90

PP (Power Points)

After using index cards to quiz each other, students will have reviewed chapters to answer questions. Students will use to ask a question that goes with the answer posed. :

There are two ways where vocabulary will be studied by repeated use of the words, as opposed to only learning words in context. The point of extra vocabulary practice is acknowledging that our English Language Learners need multiple opportunities to practice using words from the context to learn them.

I will connect to the reading of the book and collecting Experience Points for vocabulary activities.

Students will join the class by using this URL:

Students will also participate in a spirit animal quest that will help them focus on why the author may have chosen certain animals for the novel. They will become familiar with how a Ram, Arax, would be able to creep along the rocky heights of mountains and why the author might add in that Arax had the power to stir up the wind. Snow Leopard Quest 1 BBC Planet Earth—(April 10, 2011) 15’

When Abeke wrote to the Greencloaks at:

Students were provided with an example for how to write to a character with or without their spirit animal.

My next focus is to apply specific 5th grade Alaska Standards for the reading, writing, and vocabulary standards. An overall technology and English Language Learner (ELL) standard will tie to these activities as well.


Bruder, P. (March 2015). The Education Digest, pp. 56-60.


Classcraft article. Understanding points (HP,XP, AP, GP, PP):

Crawley, D. (May 31, 2014). Classcraft makes the classroom a giant role-playing game—with fermium pricing

DeVere Wolsey, T., Smetana, L, & Grisham, D. L. (2015). The Reading Teacher, 68(6), pp. 449-458.

Dolasia, M. (March 30, 2014). Classcraft makes learning fun by ‘gamifying’ the classroom

Education Central (2015) by way of Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT).

Snow Leopard Conservancy in Ladakh, India:

Spirit Animals Website:

Wolsey, T., Simetana, L. & Grisham, D. L. (2015). Vocabulary plus technology. The Reading Teacher, 68(6).

EDET679 Essential Question: Which aspects of story and game mechanics will be useful in your class and how might you use them?

Week 8 Reflections.97

by Aleta May for Gamification and Open Learning, EDET 679

This week I focused on the essential question from the perspective of my variety of roles at my school. I am a special education teacher, site test coordinator, and will soon be setting up and possibly helping with a System 44 Rotation Station style reading program. Also, my principal wants me to tap into technology in a way that motivates dedicated students at school. He recently shared with me that if we focus on the students who want to learn, our scores will go up significantly. I add to this thought that by hooking some students, others will want to cooperate in their classes so they can try out a variety of ways of learning through technology. Now ideally, I could coach teachers to gamify classrooms, but if I follow the principal’s plan, I believe I can add in more incentives through the many Learning and Game Mechanics available.

I learned so much from my own research, and replicated a chart that guides serious gaming—defined as gamification of a classroom for the purpose of student-centered learning. In my overview of Matera’s “Theme, Setting, Characters, and Action,” I applied two books to each of these. This helped me think through how using the narrative approach is a way to outline a constructivist approach to student learning and teacher facilitation.

After reading Gerald’s post, I opened and bookmarked the links he had found from an article. I may use any of these for my final project, and I am ready to explore more in depth for a project now.

These are responses I made to blog posts:


I agree that there are so many possible game mechanics! On my WordPress, I published a link where I retyped the chart they had, since it would not allow me to drag it over to upload. The left column is Learning Mechanics and the right column is Game Mechanics. This visual helped me see a division for designing serious games (games created for learning). The chart is only a guide as direct connections from one side to another are not well researched out. I think your ideas are great–and the best way to find out is to test them out. It will be engaging, and their feedback will help them think about what they have learned while also helping you know the students you serve for the next design.

Hi Genevieve,

I just read a book with a struggling reader about living underwater. I think gaming scenes for this would be fun.   Here is a website for using gaming, video clips, and quizzes for underwater settings:

Maybe students need to try to picture setting ideas in their minds before going to premade sites. I wonder what gaming platform we could use to help students build a setting. I know about MineCraft, but there must be others. I wonder if using pictures taken from books, or places around town, or sent to students from family could be incorporated into a storify app:


The first thing that came to my mind after I watched your video clip, was continental drift, then ‘cause and effect,’ That is one mighty acorn! A whole science these could be built around Scrat.

I really like the way you brought out our human need for a focus that allows us to “orient information and make dynamic connections.” As a multilevel teacher in the recent past, it has always made sense to me that thematically teaching is the best way to set up a student-centered environment, because we can easily adjust levels. For example, within a thematic orientation, poetry is available all levels of reading and thought.

I visited the Legacy Project site you posted:

Having a school-wide theme brings a sense of community too.

Next, I watched a video that was embedded within this site:

Some topics that she addressed, are metaphors and asking the question, “what are dreams made of or what is in a dream?”


Life has IF in it. What is the metaphor for your life?

A quest; a mission; a mystery; a maze; a game; . . . or a Dream.

Dreams have. . .

Goals, purpose, direction, meaning, choices, future, control, hope, pleasure and the self. – Susan V. Bosak.

I like the form I found too called the “Dream Reading List” because it provides space for students to thin about the extensive choices for reading: My favorite topic, historical hero, interesting places, exciting adventures, how it works, careers, sports, nature/animals, other cultures/countries, making a difference, just for fun, and not my usual reading—but I’ll try it. (

The reason this thought provoking form list strikes me as something great, is that students have a choice. The one thing I have wondered when we set up a gamification class is how to set up a theme that is for everyone—we really cannot. For older students, we can mainly set up what they need to learn according to the standards for that content, then make it as fun and interesting as possible.


What a great way to teach Interviewing skills! “Quest for Knowledge of Another” through Classcraft is such a fun way to make an interesting topic even more creative! Are the conversation blogs set up within Classcraft? If not, where are they set up?

I would really like to see your major quest! Also, I’d like to see your optional side quests for your next unit when you set them up. This is so much more than what has traditionally been termed “extra credit assignments!” Students want more, you saw that during this first unit, and you are providing this.

If I could have a view-only access to your Classcraft units, I would really learn more specifically how this looks.


Google sheets for setting up a leaderboard is something I read in Matera, but since the different facets of using Google for the classroom are new to me, I am glad you wrote that in your experience with using this—it would help you have a leaderboard “platform.” How would components like badges and points be displayed in Google Sheets? Also, it seems like group badges and points for public view would be best, so students are not exposed for having fewer badges (punished by rewards).

I went to the pdf link you posted:

Thank you for sharing this, because it really clears up for me what you were describing.

I visited the link you placed in your references The Ultimate Guide to amifying Your Classroom.


You wrote:

Liz Kolb suggests that I use gamification software such as GradeCraft, 3DGameLab, Classcraft, and The Virtual Locker.

So I went through and did a quick view of each of the software systems and bookmarked them. With a Quick overview of each I found very valuable links. This answers a lot of my questions about how do I set up a gamified classroom without a specific platform? It is a combination of ways; and I am beginning to think it is just a way to get around the teacher-centered classroom and limited textbook only method.


I briefly visited this site and it asks “What is Gameful?” Then Earn Up; Increased Autonomy; Freedom to Fail; and Tangible Progress.

3D Game Lab: took me to “over 20,000 quests” (showing a Coastal Manager: Saving the Coho Salmon. Great use of iPads!

Our group Classcraft presentation from class was excellent; so I want to try this out now too!

The Virtual Locker: looks like a class management system for gaming.

Week 8 Initial Blog for EDET 697

Week Eight by Aleta May

Essential Question: Which aspects of story and game mechanics will be useful in your class and how might you use them?

I am hoping that you can double click on the Word or PDF version below it to download the chart I made from Arnab et al., 2015.



Above is a Learning Mechanics and Game Mechanics (LM-GM) Map that I read and charted from the article’s chart. Since “one of the biggest issues with educational games to date is the inadequate integration of educational and game design principles” (Arnab, Lim, Carvalho, et al., 2015, p. 392); it is vital that we look at the relationship between the two areas. The map is an. tool that helps teachers and others who design games to see how various mechanics relate to each other. There is no one certain method to mapping the two sides of the map, but the divided picture helps us to see what mechanics we may need to consider connecting when we develop serious games that are meant for instructional design.

As a reminder of what gamifying the classroom is, I have added in a definition that is cumulative:


“Gamification is the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to solve problems and engage users.

In order to be classified as gamification an entire unit or classroom must use gaming techniques” Bruder, P., (2015).

“Serious games” is a term that has the goal of teaching something to students. “Gaming principles” apply some game elements to that which may not be a game. However, “serious games” has a goal to teach something to players / students. “Gamification” joins the principles together.

To me, this quest to learn at is the principle of Gamification:

I begin with the idea for my own gamifying for students, that I enrich their reading experiences as much as possible, in order to gain their attention, and deep engagement into the novel. I have used the framework from Matera’s book to help me think through how I could use two different “sailboat” novels in a gamified classroom setting.

Setting the Course from Explore Like a Pirate: Engage, Enrich and Elevate Your learners by Michael Matera—

Can be Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson or Voyage of the Frog by Gary Paulsen

Theme, Setting, Characters, and Action

Theme—“Theme is the frame of your story . . . around an existing unit or provide an alternative environment” (Matera, p. 70, 2015).

Once the theme is in place, the other components of the gamified class experience are set in place.

Setting—“. . .   a big picture view as vast as the ocean” (Matera, p. 71). The specific tangible elements and details outfit the setting .

Characters—“Characters drive the game. They are what your students become—the heroes they cheer on and the villains from which they run” (Matera, p. 72).

Action—“. . . challenges, conflicts, action, “two different timelines” beginning with “quick challenges that help our adventures feel successful” (Matera, p. 73).

Setting The Course

After being asked to take his uncle’s ashes to the sea, inexperienced David faces an unexpected and very bad storm.

 Route One: Theme

Survival on the open sea in a sailboat.

 Route Two: Setting

 th       th-1

Route Three: Character

Sailboat captain / Uncle who had died. Then Fourteen-year-old David Alspeth grew up a lot during the situation he found himself in.

Route Four: Action vocabulary practice for The Voyage of the Frog and

Treasure Island to build an understanding of sailboat and sailing terms.

Game–Master of the Secret Sea

In the game narrative, the new sailor does not know where Sunda is (the place they landed) or how to get a job; townhall. Quests could be added in to look these up.

Then the player can set sail. There is a description of how to use the arrow keys to control the ship.

Master of the Secret Sea – Play Master of the Secret Sea Game – Free Online Games, master of the secret sea online game, ship-boat games, online games, flash games, free games

On the Level Up Tech Quest wikispace, I really like some of the ideas (quoted directly below) put forth for how games are useful in teaching our students:

  • Authoring Platforms: Game is used to produce an artifact, be it another game, a model, visual text, or written text.
  • Simulations: Students use games to test theories about systems and tinker with variables.
  • Trigger Systems: Games are used as a jumping point for discussion.
  • Technology Gateways: Students use games to familiarize themselves with technology.
  • Exemplars of Point of View: Games allow students to take on different identities.
  • Documentary: Students use games to document their learning process and reflect on it.
  • Research Assignments: Students design games themselves and in doing so, research the subject matter of the game.

Farber, M. (2016), makes a good point that to me relates to first, sixth and seventh points above: “Similar to project-based learning, game-based learning puts students in authentic situations that require them to think critically about problems” (p. 37). Also, writing is tied into play when students take “field journal notes, written from the point of view of the roles they chose” (Farber, p. 41).

Another link I found in Bruder’s article (2015), is by Liz Dwyer. One link leads to how a teacher from Atlanta uses Angry Birds for physics lessons. Another link shows how using World of Warcraft can be used for Beowolf and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

(Dec. 7, 2011 by Liz Dwyer).

Tutorial instructions include buttons and leads to how the game is played—

Controlling Ship — Trading Tutorial (ship dock, market, tavern, townhall, ship yard, status, game menu: Trading is difficult and you have to know what to buy and where to sell some goods)

Battle Tutorial

Find Treasure

This game could easily be tied to side quests and writing assignments. Since the students I work with change according to student needs, the vision of principals new to our school, and district needs, I do not always teach the same topic, age level, or student with different needs. As of this new quarter, however, it looks like I will be teaching using a novel and within a month be organizing, setting up and possibly teaching a station rotation reading model. My principal also envisions my motivating middle students to desire to learn technology skills, specifically tied someway to the STEM program. My writing in this week’s blog reflects that.


Arnab, S., Lim, T., Carvalho, M. B., Bellotti, F., Freitas, S. (de), Louchart, S., Suttie, N., Berta, R., & De Gloria, A. (2015). Mapping learning and game mechanics for serious games analysis. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(2), 391-411.

Bruder, P., (2015). Game on: Gamification in the Classroom, p. 56-60).

Game–Master of the Secret Sea

Garber, Matthew (2016). Gamify your classroom: How a middle school unit on the Columbian Exchange has led a social studies teacher to design and use cooperative tabletop games to deliver instruction and engage students. NJEA Review.     

Links referred to in this article:

Matera, M. (2015). Setting the Course from Explore Like a Pirate: Engage, Enrich and Elevate Your learners. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

Paulsen, G. (1989). Voyage of the Frog. New York, NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

 Image of Sailboat in the Open Sea:

 Compass Rose–Bing Image



EDET 679 Week 7: How do you or might you use language to change the way that your students think about learning in the classroom?

Initial Post Week 7

EDET679 with Dr. Graham

by Aleta May

Essential Question: Week Seven: The Language of Learning 

Essential Question: How do you or might you use language to change the way that your students think about learning in the classroom?

In order to set the tone for a student-centered classroom, is important to spend the first week of a semester focusing on relationship building. In contrast to relationship building, teachers usually focus on routines and clear expectations (Tucker, 2016). Although routines and clear expectations are important, relationship building should at least be the primary focus. Tucker (2016) referred to this link that is not designed for the high school classroom, but were 36 questions that gave her a great place for students to get to know each other: . Tucker used these with index cards, one question per card, then had students pair up for “four minutes to ask and answer its question; then students rotated to different partners” (p. 87). These questions could be put in an online space where they choose two or three to answer—in writing or in an audio recording.

Another example for beginning with a student-centered classroom is using Socrative’s Space Race for group quizzes that have 20 questions common to the interest of high school students. “. . . students work to answer in groups of four. Groups compete against each other. . .” (p. 88). I found a pdf guide for socrative:


Image by; found at Bing—Classroom Space Race (socrative)

Next—I explored student-centered teaching (facilitating)/learning and words related to this (in contrast to tradition teaching/learning) by reading about and exploring is an example of using an online tool to gamify the classroom (older students because of adds) in a manner that students can join the class by visiting a pre-approved invitation URL (they will need to create a account as well as the teacher):  Like this–

Independent and flexible learning opportunities were effectively added to vocabulary learning that has not only an integrated dictionary, but can be developed into challenges, use a visual context (I didn’t explore that far—but maybe it can be added in by the teacher if it is purchased), repetition, context, “immediate feedback, feeling of accomplishment, and success of striving against a challenge and overcoming it” (Abrams & Walsh, 2014, p. 50). Non-examples would include look up the word in a dictionary section only or “shooting-based and time-based games [that] distract[ed] students from focusing on the vocabulary at hand” (Abrams & Walsh, p. 50). Repetition is also in this game in that a word bank of missed words is built up for practice.

I went to this site to use the trial version. First, I read the word within an example sentence. Next, I read the word and chose one from four answers, an example phrase came up. A more in depth and in this case, a more historical example for how the word could be used was included.

When I started building up points in Word in the Wild, I collected 100 points for each correct word. When I got one wrong, I did simply did not receive any points. By clicking on Word in the Wild (the word was used in a sentence) I received 50 points after getting the answer correct.

“Gamification is rooted in problem solving” . . . in contrast “edutainment feeds the player information, rather than encouraging curiosity and exploration” (Abrams & Walsh, 49). Other rewards students can earn are: “badges, like the green crown (signifying a perfect round), numbered medallions that indicate correct consecutive answers. Learning by doing is much more effective than just memorizing—Gee, 2007 was quoted in this article; Gee has conducted a lot a research about the social aspects of gaming. Students are motivated when there is interactivity and engagement. Sara is a teacher who created custom word lists, developed from class readings and used this method for all of her new ligerature units. She found that bringing her vocabulary into the game context, was “engaging her students in collaborative play for 40 minutes of the 50-minute class period” (Abrams & Walsh, p. 53).

In summary of the above article, I have compiled a list of student-centered facilitating and teaching above by making words from my reading of this article bold: independent, flexible, repetition, feeling of accomplishment, challenge, curiosity, exploration, interactivity, and engagement.

Though 15 minutes, this You Tube describes the Student-Centered learning classroom:

A student-driven learner needs to be creative, have curiosity, put in effort and willing to share in self-discovery (Matera, 2015, pp. 38-39). Even from the beginning, students need to address and overtime ask their own questions, learn how to research for answers and interpret their findings. When students take responsibility for their own learning, it becomes engaging—especially when they are allowed the freedom to take off into a direction of personal interest within site of the big goal or idea. Learning is for real-life problems. This inquiry based learning style builds or constructs from their personal previous learning. Students build learning, knowing that they can apply what they learn to their own lives—motivational and a growth mindset (Dole, et al., 2016).

Students who have not experienced this style of learning may have a fixed mindset (this is as far as I am able to learn). Therefore, “their learning must be highly relevant . . . If I try at this, will I succeed? Or will I fail again? (Nolan, et al., p. 43). Extremely important skills that go with student-centered learning include these words as well: time management, organization, self-monitoring, and persistence during independent work” (Nolan, et al., p. 44). The authors of who wrote this article suggest a blended learning environment. I believe a gamified classroom brings out the best of all of these. Matera discusses the S.A.L.L. (Second Attempt In Learning) to avoid the pitfalls of the fixed mindset. Students can redo or try another way to learn a project or answer a question in order to reach mastery according to their instructional flow range.


Abrams, S. and Walsh, S. (2014). Gamified vocabulary online resources and enriched language learning. IJournal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(1). International Reading Association, (pp. 49-58).

Andersen, Paul at TEDxBozeman, April 24, 2012. Retrieved 10-21-16.

Dole, S., Bloom, L., & Lowalske, K. (2016). Transforming pedagogy: Changing perspectives from teacher-centered to learner-centered. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning.

Image by; found at Bing—Classroom Space Race

Matera, M. (2015). Explore like a pirate. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

Nolan, J., Preston, M., & Finkelstein, J. (2012). Can you dig/it? Kappan. User Guide retrieved 10/20/16 at:

Tucker, C. (2016). Don’t waste the first week: Establish relationships, not just routines. The Techy Teacher. ASCD/222.ASCD.ORG.

This link was embedded in the article written by Catlin Tucker. Retrieved on 9/20/16 from:

Wright, Shelley at TEDxWestVancouverED:  The power of student-driven learning: June, 2013.

EDET678 Funding Proposal Screencast-O-Matic Parts I and II Links

Aleta May


Part I of the Emerging includes a proposal that serves to define why it is important for schools and other stakeholders to invest in our technologies that challenge our students and go beyond computer programs designed only to instruct without much interaction:

Screencast-O-Matic Link for this presentation:

Part II of the Screencast-O-Matic presentation demonstrates how an Understanding by Design two week unit can serve to connect what students are learning when they use Arduino Electrical Circuitry (as one example) to the Alaska State Technology goals and standards, as well as to endless examples of content area standards that may be met by using Arduino.  In the unit I have written–students are studying middle school or older electric circuitry in physics as they learn to use coding in technology for future career goals.

Screencast-O-Matic URL for UbD unit lesson:

Link embed for Screencast-O-Matic UbD unit lesson: