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Super Hero Training Center – A Work In Progress

“[Gamification] is accessible to all…because you are maximizing what you already have and what is available to you. You start with the content that meets your required standards and then explore how to layer gamification over the top.”

– Michael Matera in Explore Like a Pirate 

I’ve been thinking about this quote all summer. I have made this quote the basis of every gamification decision I have made so far. The questions ‘What am I already doing?’ and ‘How can I gamify that?’ have kept me on course. So…what things am I already doing? The biggest parts of my classroom are standards-based grading and collaborative groups.

Mechanics

I do standards based grading with a max score of 4. Inspired by games like Angry Birds, I decided that students could earn up to four stars for each target. There will be about 20-30 targets all year. (I’m not sure what grade I’m teaching yet and it depends on how many standards there are.) Just like in Angry Birds, students can reassess on old standards and earn more stars. It’s actually built into my class. Stars can’t be taken away.

angrybirds

Students will also earn stars doing side missions. I’m thinking that I will have maybe 20 side missions. These will all be content related, but will bring in some creativity. Make a video explaining a concept, explain how a concept can be used in real life, kind of stuff. I’m also thinking of incorporating at least 10 secret side missions. Links hidden on the website that lead to password protected google forms where they have to solve a puzzle or answer a trivia question to get in. A few QR codes on posters in the hallways.

Also, because they get stars for academics, all my temptations will only be available to students in the bottom half of the leaderboard. I should also add that I don’t think I’ll have a public leaderboard. I don’t think I’ll need one because I think that the stars will also be their in game currency. They will be able to buy items to help in their mission to take down the antagonists together.

So, I have items, Stars are my xp and my currency. no teams because the game is collaborative, no leaderboard. No badges. And I’m working on building some linked spreadsheets so I can have a screen for each student to see their personal game information without other students seeing it. I kept my promise to myself that I would only have two mechanics! Hooray!

Storyline

I have a bit more for my story-line. After talking with some folks on twitter (mostly  @MrPowley, @Renard_Teach, and @MeehanEDU).

Students walk into class the first day. Greet them and thank them for “signing up”. Explain that there aren’t many super hero training schools left and play the intro video. Have students do super hero themed activities the first week to discover powers, and logos, and …stuff (?). A weird staticy voice is randomly heard a few times. They can’t seem to get a good connection. Students wonder who is trying to contact us… Are they friend who needs help or a foe to vanquish. *Spoiler* it’s the first of the 3 antagonists – a trio bent on using the world’s math illiteracy to destroy the earth – trying to call in to taunt the trainees.

No one will ever be able to stop us because no one remembers math!!! Bwhahaha!!!
– the trio thinks

The REAL supers are far too busy to deal with this, so they decide that defeating her will be good training for my trainees.

I’m thinking of introducing them one at a time without giving any clues before their actual introduction. Introduce #1 the second week of school (she finally gets through), battle her at the end of the midterm. Introduce #2 when #1 is defeated (“How dare you defeat my sister!!!”/”You never had a chance”). Battle #2 at the end of the first term. Battle #3 at 2nd midterm. Battle all 3 simultaneously for semester review.

The antagonists will send robot underlings, The Denominators, to test the knowledge of the students at the end of each unit. Undefeated Denominators will ally with the current antagonist during the battle (adding some additional HP each) and must be defeated before the trainees can damage the anatogonist. Adam Powley wrote a great system of battle mechanics using spreadsheets that you can find here. I’m planning to tweak his “Dreadsheets” to fit my needs. For next semester, I’m thinking about a computer program that the trio works for. Haven’t gotten very far on that, but I will have up through New Year’s to figure it out.

Things I’m still working on

  1. an introductory video and I have never edited a video before…
  2. a website. I have never created one from scratch before. I’m working on it though using google sites.
  3. puzzles that the antagonists can…antagonize students with (See what I did there?). Maybe some riddles that include vocabulary to hint at what the next topic they have chosen to stump the trainees with so they can destroy the world!!!
  4. main quests that students can solve to prevent earthquakes (via earth quake machine), tornadoes (via weather dominator), and anything else the diabolical trio come up with. (I cant do this part until I know what I’m teaching, still not hired for a position, just the district so far).
  5. lots of side-quests I only have a few right now. I think I will do some that can be used for every unit like “Make a flipgrid explaining how to solve a problem from this unit”.
  6. tweak and create multiple spreadsheets
  7. make lists of abilities and power ups
  8. figure out how to do the audio messages that #1 leaves the students the first few weeks of school, probably 3 or 4 of them.
  9. I need to design the characters and the Denominators, and maybe a few surprises too…I think I’ll try to figure out how to get Bitmoji to do it…
  10. Probably more things that I haven’t thought of yet…

So, basically, I know what I want to do, but haven’t actually built any of it yet… No pressure…

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New Student Work Organization Idea

Well, I didn’t come up with this. My partner teacher at my new school (That I LOVE by the way) uses this method to organize student work. It seems to save a lot of time. I will do the following tweaks for my own classroom.

Each table gets its own folder. Each class period gets its own color.

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Students turn in their work to the right side of the folder. I grade the assignments and place them in the left side, where students collect them. Absent students retrieve worksheets and handouts from left pocket. A team mate writes the absent students name on assignments.

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I start using these on Monday. We’ll see how it goes.

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