Matt Bowers teaches remedial reading (Read 180) at Pioneer Trail Middle School in Olathe, Kansas. A few years ago, he flipped his classroom and his students began to love reading. Their Lexile scores jumped and students who didn’t check out books from the library started checking out books. Over the past few years, Matt has continued to improve his flipped classroom. This year he wanted to up his game and add elements of gamification to his class.
He could have used fancy software to gamify his class or come up with a complex system, but that seemed like too much for him. Instead Matt used a simple spreadsheet, some ingenuity, and the help of his students.
His students were reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; so, he had pairs of students create their own chocolate factory. Students earned points based on completing tasks such as watching a flipped video, reading aloud, or completing specific tasks. They received extra points if the whole factory did things on time and if they worked together. Each factory (pair of students) were a part of their class, and the whole class was labeled as a town. Since Matt teaches four sections of Read 180, he had four towns. Towns could also earn points by doing activities, watching flipped videos, reading chapters, or any other number of tasks.
When Matt introduced the game to his students he shared with them the rules of the game but also asked them to suggest other ways to improve the game. For example, several students wanted him to add bonus points for the first factory or town to accomplish something together. When Matt added this component, students became even more engaged.
The result of adding simple gamification elements to his classroom was hyper-engagement by his students. In fact, his students were more interested in the gamification points than they were interested in class points. All it took was a simple spreadsheet, a few rules, and engagement followed. To see his embedded spreadsheet simply click HERE
Now it’s your turn: How could you simply gamify your class? What simple thing have you done or could you do to increase engagement for your classroom? Share your thoughts and comments below.