Week 9 Reflection: EQs–How do you currently infuse play into your class? How might you change this as a result of some of the ideas you have encountered?

Reflections for Week 9

EDET 679 Gamification and Open Learning with

Dr. Lee Graham

by Aleta May

November 2016

Currently, I am building in the use of hands on and visual activities in math so that my two students who struggle with math can see the math. We have a Dream Box math program that uses the same or similar manipulatives that I am using. Two boys are using concrete manipulatives which will prepare him to use the ones on the screen that do move and are a bridge from me to that math book (that will not come off the page except for now in his mind from our lessons).

I use Imagine Learning for a learning mangagement system (LMS) for reading. The lessons I teach one particular student one-on-one, come to life off the screen exactly where he needs reinforcement for reading word work and where he needs new language arts concepts taught to him. The part I find trickly, is the balance between letting him try and fail on the computer before turning the volume down that “reminds him to answer now” for going on; and using quick reminders. For example, there are words that are ee/ea and new plural/nonplural nouns and now pronouns. If I help too much while the game is operating and moves him to that level outside his zone. I find that this and other students love the gamified approach to this program, where they build up booster bits.  It would be more appropriate set in a class where there are other opportunities to use ways to learn these concepts in other ways.  It is different to vary activities as they get older and spend more time in the resource room.

Today, I explored the ClassCraft.com game. I really want to use this gamified classroom Learning Management System (LMS) so I can add lesson plans, post resources and eventually get students to talk about an assigned topic in the discussion portion I read about. I wrote to the company, since I did not seem to have a path for just purchasing this LMS portion on my own. After spending time exploring the site, I really think that very useful aspects of this platform are the features I listed. There is a portion where teachers are asked whether they would use this to teach an online class. Since this is at least one direction I am preparing for, this gives me another reason to try different ways to use this. Also, I think storing resources and building plans on the go over the summer without actually needing a physical notebook would be an advantage. I could add in a class topic related to items found to (like brochures), pictures in nature that relate to nature for geography and biology, what people do when they make things and the jobs they are in, and build up correlated lesson plans that match the content area standards. Last summer, we had the electric company put electricity to the shop.

Another platform I want to use even this week is one Ali discussed on this week’s post. She likely uses it, though may have researched it only. Either way, once I clicked, I could see ways to use Prodigy math for a variety of students. I will be working with one group from 9th grade who is working on basic math skills; and another student who has many gaps in his math skills since he had not started reading until recently.

As I read Gerald’s post, I thought of how I want to incorporate math art design into geometry. He said he has done that. It would be wonderful to see pictures of his students’ work when he does that. This brings up the word gamify—what constitutes gamification in the classroom. Well, I definitely believe art is emotional, intellectual, and playful expression. Art is both playful and that indescribable endeavor to tie things together in learning.   Drawing is an expression of reading comprehension; so too it is in math. Gamifying then includes what Ali led us to in watching the YouTube interview with James Paul Gee. In my notes from watching him, he discussed how the mind learns new ideas by simulating them visually and with actions or experiences and dialogue. Gee’s whole topic was the way gaming and learning are closely tied. Even if the game is not exactly literal—such as changing a scientific concept from the actual laws of nature and changing them to science fiction—much of the vocabulary and understanding overlaps both real and pretend worlds. Learning is connected this way.

These are replies I received from my post on Week 8–where the EQ was; “Which aspects of story and game mechanics will be useful in your class and how might you use them?”  

Mariah Smith



I really enjoyed reading about your theme of sailboats and being stuck. There seems to be intriguing aspects to your story that students will enjoy. You seem to understand how planning and playing around with ideas and thoughts is necessary to have a successful and interesting gamified course for our students. Thank you for your input and we are excited to see what you come up with and any more ideas that you share with us!

Sara Lucas says: 
.comment-author .vcard October 30, 2016 at 10:36 pm (Edit) 
.comment-meta .commentmetadata I think this was a similar topic for all this week: Theme, Setting, Characters, and Action. Genevieve talked about this and I talked about it as well. I think it is so central to starting to fantasize about how to gamify your own classroom. As I was picking a theme I couldn’t help but get to the rest. I just started to get really excited once I had my theme. I was wondering where I could put certain elements and how they could be most useful. Then I ran out of time to ponder due to my other duties. It was actually really disappointing. I can imagine if I get this excited my students will have not choice but to be excited with me.

Below are responses to blogs I read during Week 9.  My views of gaming were greatly expanded just by seeing through the window into their educational practice and their responses to same and similar readings.


I think your idea of building rapport with your students through the teacher getting points when students get wrong answers is great. You found an example from Matera in House vs. the Teacher—this sounds fun!

Wow—combining the basketball hoop and Classcraft XP sounds awesome. The rule for earning points for shooting into the basketball hoop for 25XP and adding these to the Classcraft characters has inspired me to start using Classcraft.

I remember paper football from middle school.

It seems like mini-games are an easy way to get started on gamifying a classroom. From there, it may next emerge into a theme.


Card matching games for capital and lower case resonate with me; since I notice that even older struggling readers may struggle when there are words with all capitals for emphasis.

The math bingo games give students an incentive to complete the work they’ve already learned in order to call bingo! I had not heard of Reflex Math before—does this cost? iPads are so fun for kindergarten and first grade students! They are so tactile and visual. In my readings this week, young children need a variety so they are not only using digital. It is awesome that your students get some of each.

Earning points as a group for Class Dojo so they can choose a game sounds like a good idea.

Thank you for giving a peek into your classroom life with K/1.


I visited the clicker site in your references: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/clickers/ and what stood out to me were the many types of clicker questions this system can be used for: Recall, Conceptual Understanding, Application, Critical Thinking, Student Perspective, Confidence Level, Monitoring as well as classroom experiments.

It makes sense not to require students to solve all of the problems if they don’t need that much practice. I can dream up ways that they could apply problems in real world situations by using math; but I am picturing that you have several larger classes of students per day, and little access to something like a shop (wood, mechanics, sewing, a 3D printer for geometry, etc.) and little time between classes.

Maybe you should not underestimate the power of clickers! I want to try them out. Though you acquired a set, do you know where to purchase one? It seems like a great tool for teachers to take turns using.

Gerald wrote to Matt:

Gerald ScarzellaNovember 4, 2016 at 10:29 AM

I love games, but trying to gamify a math class is still a struggle for me to put my mind around it. Even games in general. There is so much to cover in a high school math course, that time is valuable and limited. If I do have extra time, I teach a nice unit on math art. Stuff like Escher-like tessellations, perspective drawings, mandalas, and knot designs. Those activities seem more enlightening than playing games, and it introduces students to a great niche in art that incorporates math.

I replied to Gerald: Gerald, I think adding in the math art sounds like a perfect way to show how math is applied in one of so many areas. Art is relaxing as well.


The side quests draw me in as well. They seem like such a natural way to add in choice, interest, and a practical way to add project based learning as a mini-unit.

I’ve thought about the time in a day a lot lately. Even elementary is affected by this now. At our school, we have a 4th 5th grade dual language team teaching and they have tried different ways to follow the program that has been prescribed for them, as well as, get those fun projects back into the day. The way it is set up seems so separated to me; for example, 50/50 of the day in each language and a language of the day.


There is a high school teacher here who started using Kahoot and really loves to quiz students this way since he can watch their responses to know how many more need to respond—and most students really respond well to the competition.

I need to learn how to make badges to integrate them into learning as well. Is using ClassCraft a good way to get started with this? I need to get into looking at this more closely.

I remember reading about Mega Tic Tac Toe. There were several guidelines, like start up in the left corner, then go to the center, etc. What I would really enjoy is coming to your classroom and having us both try several of these ideas together. We could draw in those low motivated students together.

It is so true that games connect people. This is true for table games as well as digital. I am more willing to take risks, because we can just finish off that game and try again with that newly acquired knowledge.


Thank you, Ali for sharing about the Prodigy math site! I then noticed the 1st through 8th grade range, aligning to the standards for our own state. Since I will be working with a variety of age groups over the next five weeks, this will be a fun and helpful way to fill in math gaps for them.

I am working with a few 9th grade students who are in a basic skills math group, I can offer this to them and see if they like it or if it helps.

I use visuals as much as I can to help teach students. Then if possible, we use manipulatives as well. I know this is what the STEAM programs with robotics are trying to do. Even in my reading program, the idea of making reading meaningful to kids by seeing that words in their environment mean something relates to this idea.

Notes I took while watching the very valuable video you posted. By watching, and note taking, I could slow down my thinking, and “see” what Gee is talking about–Thank you for sharing this video; James Paul Gee he is so important in education today!

Gee in edutopia.org. on YouTube:   “The basic unit of 5 people with different skill sets. They have to be deeply skilled at one skillset, but has to understand the big picture, so they can integrate their skillset with a very different skillset, the other people. In the world of high tech work, this is called a cross-functional team; that has to be able to work together with and understand others role in their team.   Often the players that play games outside of work will go to an affinity site, research the game, discuss it and write about it. They are using vocabulary and concepts of physics even though the world they play in; such as, World of Warcraft; in order to get better at the game—the game is only half of what they are doing then.

Running ideas through the mind simulations of images, actions and experiences (goals and dialogue), that the words refer to is what helps them to learn. We have handed the manuals to students without the games. Bring the activities, problem–solving, surmise new possibilities, live in the worlds of chemistry and algebra that are connected to the books. The text/world is not understood by abstract generalities. “

Week 9 Initial Post–Essential Question: How do you currently infuse play into your class? How might you change this as a result of some of the ideas you have encountered?

Week Nine Initial Post November 2016

Aleta May

for EDET679 Gamification and Open Learning with Dr. Lee Graham

Essential Question: How do you currently infuse play into your class? How might you change this as a result of some of the ideas you have encountered?

Currently, I infuse play into my work with students through a gaming, reading program, and using matching cards to learn vocabulary. My primary focus lately has been on teaching one student to read—and he is progressing by leaps and bounds. This has been a very intensive road, for he and I, but as a 5th grader, I vary the methods I use to teach him as much as possible.

Something that interested me the most in the reading from Matera (2015) is the use of side quests. According to Matera, “An important learning opportunity provided by side quests is that students become less dependent on their teacher for initiative and content acquisition” (p. 215). He also states that a side quest can only be turned in one time, have a connection to the current unit, and turned in before the unit test (p. 215). One idea that I think would be great for weaving into a trade book reading that involves exploring an island where the characters experienced a tropical cyclone, would be to have students take quests on a Pacific volcanic island or study tropical cyclones as compared to Atlantic hurricanes (Spires, 2015). Making connections across the curriculum through taking quests are endless. Mapmaking for geography, the study of science and weather, art, music, and digital reading are all examples of using quests to cross the bridges between content areas for a more thematic learning environment that includes gamification in the classroom

When learning is set in gamification, themes, and quests, children are learning in their natural element. “According to Piaget, play becomes more abstract, symbolic, and social as children mature through different developmental stages,” (Plass, Homer, & Kinzer, 2015, p. 259). Children develop cognitively when they activate their schemas.

Constructivist, behaviorist, and cognitivist elements may differ in many ways; however, “playfulness serves as an enriching yet orthogonal dimension—a dimension that can be present no matter what model of learning a game is based on” (Plass, et al., p. 261). There are multiple ways to engage students. What they all have in common is playfulness.

Intrinsic motivation tap into what learners are interested in. Game designing should keep this type of motivation at the heart of gaming, in contrast to external motivation (Plass, Homer, Kinzer (2014). Intrinsic motivation includes meeting the needs of students by “providing immediate feedback, providing control over the material, and inspiring curiosity . . . because learners want to participate, knowledge improves. . .” (Brull, Finlayson, 2016, p. 373).

The chart below describes Playful Learning in a Cognitive Map. It is from Plass, et al. (2014): Figure 1. Integrated Design Framework of Playful Learning.

Please click for the chart to go to the wordpress link:


For the next six weeks, I will be working with a wide variety of students. One small group of high school students will study pre-algebra skills, while two others are reading novels for Novel Studies class. Another student comes in for repetition of math skills—he can read really well, but his math skill retention is very low and therefore must be visual and hands-on. Two students work with one-on-one assistants. I have a wide variety of opportunities to engage students in playful learning. I think this chart helps keep me focused.


Brull, S., & Finlayson, S. (2016). Importance of gamification in increasing learning. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 47(8), (372-375).

Plass, J., Homer, B., Kinzer, C. (2014). Playful learning: An integrated design framework. Games for Learning Institute. White Paper # 02/2014. http://create.nyu.edu/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/G4LI-White-Paper-02-2014-Playful-Learning.pdf

Matera, M. (2015). Explore like a pirate: Engage, enrich and elevate your learners. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.  Reading: Chapters 8, 9 & 10- Explore Like a Pirate

Plass, J., Homer, B. & Kinzer, C (2015). Foundations of game-based learning. Educational Psychologist, 50(4), pp. 258-283.

Spires, H. A. (2015). Digital game-based learning: What’s literacy got to do with it? Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 59(2).




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: http://www.neok12.com/Marine-Animals.htm

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: https://storify.com


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: http://www.legacyproject.org/guides/dreamtheme.html

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. (http://www.legacyproject.org/activities/readinglist.pdf)

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:  http://openingpaths.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Gamification-Players-Sheet.pdf

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.

GradeCraft: https://www.gradecraft.com

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: http://rezzly.com 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: https://thevirtuallocker.com 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). http://leveluptechquest.wikispaces.com/Graphics

“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

Kahoot.it 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. http://wowinschool.pbworks.com/w/page/5268731/FrontPage

(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). www.eddigest.com

Game–Master of the Secret Sea  http://www.microoyun.com/games/play/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: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=voyage+of+the+frog+paulsen+survival+on+the+sea&view=detailv2&&id=F9800F742C00BD1B996CCCA465DEAB9CD5C61B29&selectedIndex=0&ccid=lthc5nwm&simid=608022711538814056&thid=OIP.M96d85ce67c26163053fedbff668b79afo0&ajaxhist=0

 Compass Rose–Bing Image



Reflection for Week 7 EDET 697: How do you or might you use language to change the way that your students think about learning in the classroom?

Aleta May

Reflection Posts for Week 7

Gamification EDET 697 with Dr. Graham

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

Student-centered classrooms are built on the constructivist paradigm. Relationship building is the most important aspect of student-centered learning. The teacher is the one who facilitates this. The vocabulary of a student-centered classroom sets a growth mindset for students.

In my research I found and words that create a positive, growth mindset for student learning and teacher facilitation; and when I wrote about this topic, I completed a literature review of words that have to do with a student-centered classroom environment. Here is the word list:

Independent; flexible; repetition; feeling of accomplishment; challenge; curiosity; exploration; interactivity; engagement; independent; research; interpret; take responsibility (ownership); freedom; personal interest; growth mindset; time management; organization; self-monitoring; persistence.

I really gained a lot of insight by reading several blog posts and thinking metacognitively by thoughtful replies. Every post that I read was thought provoking. Gerald came up with a definition for words in a student-centered environment that has quotes from great people. I watched a video clip and took notes as I listened—helps me think more deeply.

Overall, I believe that a student-centered classroom is key to motivating our students in this day.  Students now do not just accept everything a teacher teaches.  They need to research and see for themselves, write to each other and discuss ideas so that they add to their own schema and so that what they are learning will move to their long term memories.

Below are my replies with a response from Ali on my blog post:


The language of learning gives them a life-long language with a growth mindset for everything they want to learn. At play, it says, “I can learn how to play an instrument, how to become an artist, how to become a gardener.” At work, it says, it is okay to try a new skill, fail (or be imperfect), yet try again and practice. I am a great educator. Sometimes I have compared myself to other educators—and what student-centered learning needs to teach us teachers is that we each have many potential talents but time to pursue mainly our interests.

Nice—that makerspace time is such a wonderful way to build student confidence in their own abilities. Connecting students’ interests outside of school, to being willing to take a risk, is such a great idea.


Wow! The quotes that go with each word are awesome! Thank you for sharing these. I completely agree that we have maintained the stigma that it is not okay to fail—failing has become something like “if you fail, you might as well give that subject area up, because you are just not good enough at that.” I was certainly influenced by this negative mantra that basically says, “you have to be a natural at [fill in the blank] in order to be good at [. . .].

Yes, sitting through standardized testing discussions where we are taught that “the good new is that when you’re at the bottom, all you can do is go up.” Well, why are we at the bottom; and in a bell curve, doesn’t some group have to “live there?” Time to shed that and allow teachers to think for themselves so we can facilitate students in doing the same.


I believe that my focus has been so much on asking myself where do I get a learning management system (LMS) or learning platform to use for gaming, that I was forgetting the most important part of the game for engaging learners; game elements. Creating an interactive classroom that is focused takes time as well. I know that one focus across our district has been to expect our students from primary level to start being less dependent on the teacher and more dependent on their bilingual pair (which is then sometimes put into groups of four). The structure for this starts to look like shared assignments and activities. This is a start.


I remember watching teachers teach students to work together on projects. Most of the time, I went to school in the traditional method; especially middle and high school. It seems that outside of school, it is not easy to be creative or to know what to do with curiosity if most of your do is spent ‘being taught.’ My biggest concern in the afterschool hours was getting something to eat, since lunch had been so long ago.

With your how to speak with parents list, the timing is great—parent teacher conferences are coming up for us. I think your idea of referring to extra credit work as another quest takes the stigma of “being the top of the class” and puts it as “work is an adventure.” What is interesting is that our standards, though sometimes seem restrictive, can be applied in so many ways. We do not need to be driven by the tool called the textbook; rather the standards set a goal and the textbook is a guide that is rich with ideas to quest from, extend from, and frame our student’s interests. They can start at one point in a book, and with internet and other resources, go on forever on that one point—learning in depth, letting one question lead to another.

To Gerald on Sarah’s post:


One of the problems with our high school system is that after missing 10 days, they cannot get credit. That alone affects some students. They come to school, and seem to have no academic direction. What are their options then? But, like you, I try in my role as an educator to reach them all one way or another. . .


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Thank you for reminding me of this acronym: FAIL means First Attempt In Learning. This reminds me some of the writing process—the first step is a draft; it is expected that it will not be the end result and that it will take refining.

Resilience and time do go together. I would rather cover a concept deeply and teach students how to learn that cover five concepts shallow and broadly and teach them that we need to turn that page and move on. Sometimes a spiral method helps, and I think gaming helps with the strategies of “coming back to that (or repetition).”

The way you visually set up the SAPS Model is really helpful for me because it is clear; motivating students, is acknowledging that they are different, and different is natural!

I may have students given to me soon, as we have one teacher who is away until January. I think that whatever the content area, the reminder from your post that giving students choice is the most important. Since we are sharing students, I would like to keep my focus on the high students (in this case, students who read well enough to take off on side odysseys) being given choices.


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I was very inspired by what you wrote. How do we break out of the grade expectation mold expected by our school districts and parents?

Chris Haskell in the video clip made a strong point when he said that in the next 10 years, schools will change more than they have in the last 100 years. How will this happen. One way is for us to integrate gaming elements into the classroom as much as possible. There is so much yet for me to learn, and from everything I have read, it takes a lot of time initially. I think it would take less time once it is set up. One thing I notice teaching in rural areas, and I’m sure often times in cities, we may invest a lot of our personal time, money, effort to set up an environment, just to be changed to another class grade level to teach or subject area in high school.

These notes from the video sum up what we have been looking at in class, plus some:

What’s worth knowing or doing vs. what grade do I want. I like this simple outline he provided as well: The future of education

~~No Homework

~~No Due Dates

~~Student Choice


~~Better Tracking

Incomplete homework tells us which students are either overloaded or unmotivated and who has parental support (I’ll add for a variety of reasons), and puts a punishment onto the student. Schema has to do with what we know in a certain environment than anything else.

I like Chris’s definition of class design: We play a class! He are elements we see in Matera’s book as well:

~~Experience Points

~~Levels, Badges, Achievements

~~Allow and reward failure

~~Remove punishment

~~Multiple paths/Choice

~~Define a winning condition

~~We call it . . . Quest-based learning

Thank you for sharing this link, Ali. I got a lot out of this 5 minute video: (2012, September 27). Blowing up the grade book. [Video]. Retrieved October 20, 2016, from https://youtu.be/atMlkVgzx-Y

From Ali to my post:

You wrote: “Although routines and clear expectations are important, relationship building should at least be the primary focus.” I agree with your statement. I always feel that the routines and procedures can be taught in the moment. As the problems/issues occur I address them and use it as a teachable moment. It is very important to build relationships with students and to allow students to build relationships in the classroom with their peers.

I replied to Ali:

Using teachable moments are an excellent way to address problems and issues that arise. In a gamified environment, behavior issues could be addressed in small group discussions and a social problem solving environment that the students address.

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: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html . 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: http://www.socrative.com/materials/SocrativeUserGuide.pdf


Image by nicolehub.com; 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 vocabulary.com.

Vocabulary.com 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 vocabulary.com account as well as the teacher):  Like this–http://vocab.com/join/V9K0GC

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 Vocabulary.com 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 nicolehub.com; found at Bing—Classroom Space Race http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Classroom+Space+Race&FORM=IRIBEP

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.

Socrative.com User Guide retrieved 10/20/16 at: http://www.socrative.com/materials/SocrativeUserGuide.pdf

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:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html

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

EDET 679: Reflection for Week 6 Gamification and Open Education

Reflection for Week 6

EDET 679: Gamification and Open Education, with Dr. Graham

by Aleta May

By reading and commenting on several posts and reflecting on Gerald’s reply to my post, I focused on this topic in a way that caused me to really consider the strong impact different gaming types has on designing a plan for the classroom. The interrelationship between gamer types, personas, and pleasures that motivate (draw players into the game) is much more extensive than I had realized.

Following is a description of what I learned during our Tuesday session within a group of three:

In class this week, I felt like I learned how to participate in a group and give what I could at my level. Since the ck12.org site was new to me, I found myself exploring what would be useful to me. I am so glad that in our group, we had two teachers who were already familiar with this site and wrote on our power point how they use this site in their own science class. It is simply amazing that we all pulled together our experiences to create such a complete power point within just 30 minutes, with two of us more experienced at using ck12.org and myself new to this.

https://docs.google.com/ presentation/d/1ysaR_ 1C9Ehoroc78uhE6e4YSoSapYKDO2CX 5UzhSOgk/edit?usp=sharing

In this power point I learned about how teachers can connect lessons to national ans state standards. I learned about how books for science can be downloaded and one of the two Sara, Sarah’s in my group relies more on the book in ck12.org than the text. By exploring further after our class session, I saw how I could build my own flexbook that in turn would be available to others interested in the topic I explored; Sketchup.

Teachers can create groups for each class; Biology, 8th grade Science, Earth Science and Physical Science. Within one group page, Biology, for Nelson Island School, there are quizzes and life quizzes embedded. On the left is a list of places to click and go into: assignments, reports, Q&A; shared resources, members, settings.

Further, the other teacher in our group created a PLIX Series for Physical Science and Chemistry. I want to explore PLIX more, as I noticed that it is not just for Science.

The page with example concept maps for both math and science drew my interest, since during my Reading Specialist program, there was a lot of emphasis for students to visually see how main concepts/vocabulary words relate to subconcepts and vocabulary words.

Also, it looks like the separated Nearpod Lesson program (where some lessons may need to be purchased) may be embedded within the class creation.

So between the constructing a powerpoint with a small group about an open education site where I draw from others, and they in turn can use my flex book that I created from that; while researching and discussing gamer types with peers in class; this was a productive week for me.

Replies to peers in class:


I think that if our class has an overall game design, patterns of relationships would arise. This would make good discussion as a class about what is happening; what is working and what needs to change. It also seems like a good idea to have gamers of like interests get together for specific planning as the need arises. Maybe, for example, socializers could collaborate on how to draw in people who seem to want to socialize, but do not know how to break into a group who is already tied together; or how to help those who socialize ‘without rules or values.’ Overall, it seems like dividing groups that are well balanced for different purposes would help students gain perspective from the point of view of others. A teacher can create their own assignments out of ready made materials; attach multiple resources into a lesson; and view the latest practice and quiz scores.


That is a good point; seeing ourselves in a gamer type test, versus seeing ourselves as others see us! We may agree or not, or partially agree, but either way it is worth listening to.

I really like the Image of Bartle’s Player Type that you found.

I know that a large part of my personality is to explore the details. I ended up being Ace (achiever) on Bartle’s test, but I know I am also strong in being one who explores for details.


Thinking of multiple modalities when writing lesson plans compared with designing virtual worlds that considers a variety of personalities and interests is an analogy I had not thought of. I agree that there is overlap in player characteristics between player types.

Grouping students by answering questions sounds like a good way to design game learning in the classroom. I wonder if students could asked to answer gaming questions and along with everyday life questions in order to compare socializing in both virtual and real world environments: or achieving goals, grades and awards carries over as much from one environment to the next, would be a good way to get a truer snapshot from students. Some questions could allow space for them to provide examples from their virtual and real world environments.

There may also be students who are not gamers, who would not know how to answer the questions if there is not a variety of ways to describe themselves as interacting preferences.

Hi Heather,

I think that looking at motivation, behavior and preferences in some detail could help us set up our gaming environment better than it would otherwise be. As I think about Dixon’s statement, my mind goes toward using these three categories with a list of examples under each, then using these as a type of check list for students to think about as they consider what motivates them to play, etc.

Exploring side quests sounds like fun to me. I’m sure there are many who would either join me in exploring, or leave me behind to socialize, conquer or achieve.


It makes sense that if you love being outdoors and traveling that being an explorer type in a game would be the connection between your real life and gaming life. Sometimes the player can freely explore when it is not possible to explore away from home; such as when our schedules get busy and there is little time off. So exploring in a game can be an outlet; this would hold true for our students as well.

The graphic image you provided, along with your description of the axis, is very helpful for me.

Your scavenger hunts and treasure maps, sound like a lot of fun for your students.


Focusing on achievers, socialites and explorers seems to me to be a positive focus for classroom activities. I like to think of the killer as a risk taker instead; especially for in class gaming.

I think achievers would do well to stretch their focus over into the explorer and socializer realms as well. Maybe a game could be designed for achievers who like to collect to have a reason for those items to benefit the group, rather than just collecting to gain the most of anything (points, levels up, graphic embellishments).

It is so true that educators have been seeking to teach to a variety of learning modalities for years. I think the biggest change came when Public Law 94-142 was enacted in 1976, stating that we could not just push students out of school for having serious learning challenges. This stretched to the students who have a variety of different learning needs. Then we included the gifted and talented. I think now we are actually at a point where we can get past much of the wording/labeling and just plan for students. The biggest hang-up, in my view, seems to be the issue of how to grade students who are included with the class; yet. at the same time, cannot reach the goals at the same level as many of their peers. Gaming environments allow for all to succeed and be a part of the whole environment.

Gerald’s Response to my post:

                  unicyclepro says: 
.comment-author .vcard October 15, 2016 at 5:23 pm (Edit) 
.comment-meta .commentmetadata I found the same kind of results in terms of classifications for players. Bartle may have started it initially, but others have put in their “2-cents” worth since then. I commented on Sara’s blog that I think these player types are just real people’s profiles in “life.” Your results seem balanced between the four types. I was not this way. I was a little sad to discover that my score for socializing was the lowest in two tests I took, not just low, really low. A little ironic, I think, since I’m a teacher, but I think I prefer single player games and doing things solo, so it makes sense. Your blog for this week is very comprehensive. I didn’t think I did justice to the topic in mine, and it was long too! Nice job. It’s really important to realize the different player types in multi-player games to develop great games.


My reply to his response: 


Thank you for your compliments; and for sharing! I know that my blogs get too long. I tried to add in more images like from YouTube and a table graph to balance it out. I found this topic interesting, especially when I read from LeBlanc’s Taxonomy of Game Pleasures, in Schelle. Maybe since you are a teacher, that solo time is treasured even more. Once I get into table games with friends, I break out of the desire to be left to our (husband and I) own private world after school actually grows and I have a good time. Not socializing for me has a lot to do with self-confidence and trying to figure out how to associate with different personality types.

My reply to Gerald on his blog post:

Nice summary of Bartle’s 4 player types. On the test, I was, in my opinion, too much of an achiever. I thought it was because I am a product of my era of education (I’m a Late Baby Boomer), but then I have heard peers in this program who are likely in their late 20’s and early 30’s talk about being achievement oriented. Maybe a testimony to “it’s time to make changes in education!”

That is awesome that you came out high in the Explorer range—consistent in two tests! I have not played in video games as much as you have (I am assuming you are a gamer), but I do plan to spend a lot of time gaming once I am finished with coursework. Besides wanting to learn more as an educator, what a great way to relate better to our 7 to 13 year old grandkids at home, and learn directly from them how they respond and the types of games they like to play.

I would like to game with my husband, but not in a competitive game J

I really like the environmental aspects of a game as well: the wind, weather, etc., that you brought out. As I read, I was there—like the survival mode of Minecraft.