For the last nine weeks of the school year I decided to check out Classcraft.com as I look into gamification in the classroom. This won’t be a review, but more of a first look at Classcraft and how it can work in the classroom.
What is gamification?
Gamification is the use of behavioristic tools in the classroom to reward and punish behavior. It is hoped that it would lead to higher intrinsic motivation levels in the students, but for the most part, it’s using a stick and carrot approach. Is this good or bad? The jury is out.
Once implemented, students completion of tasks or modeling behaviors rewards the students with XP and/or AP. XP is short for experience points, and could be thought of as a gauge of how much the students have learned or completed in the classroom. AP is an acronym for Action Points, and can be used by students to activate powers that their characters may have in the game. Hit Points are called HP, and this is where the student can take damage. If their HP falls below zero, they fail in battle and a random consequence is chosen.
A little history of using gamification in my classroom
This is my first year back in the classroom, and around the 10 week mark I realized that I needed to come up with a way of dealing with classroom management. I had read up on gamification before, and was going to use Classcraft. Then I looked at Classcraft. For someone who is not totally versed in role playing games, the introduction and terms used in Classcraft are very intimidating. I decided to do my own version, using a Google Sheet and a lot of formulas. It’s to the point now that it works really well, but is cumbersome and tedious for me. The students’ acceptance is a mixed bag. On one hand, taking away hit points does have a calming affect on the entire class. But gaining XP wasn’t enough of a carrot. I have since expanded the number of daily events to include more rewards for those students that are higher in XP.
The last nine weeks
I have one small class that works pretty well together. This class, I decided, would try out Classcraft for the final 9 weeks. So far, it’s caused an interested dynamic, where it’s easier to get them excited or on task then it was before. Unfortunately, there are things in Classcraft that are cumbersome.
Boss battles remind me a lot of a Kahoot, but with more dragons. As the teacher, I enter in multiple choice or short answer questions. In battle, random students are selected to answer each question. It’s more fun than Kahoots, but entering the questions are a pain. And there is no way to import or export your questions, so you are stuck using the web interface.
There is an area that I can add content to the class, and reward students for reading or contributing to a discussion. But, yet again, it is tedious to enter information and you can’t import or export the information.
Since it was the last two months of school, I was able to invite two other teachers to try out Classcraft so I could unlock the premium features. One would be hard pressed to use the site without paying, since two very nice features, gold pieces and class content/discussions, aren’t available in the free version.
This is just a brief starting look at Classcraft and gamification. I’ll have a more complete picture of Classcraft at the end of the year.