Gamification and my classroom 1: ideas and thoughts

Gamifying the KS3 Classics course: Greece and Rome in one year

(I haven’t written in months due to health issues this year – my apologies to those of you who may have thought I’d given up!)

Background: This year my 3rd year Classical Civilisation students (aka Year 9, KS3, GCSE-1) are starting their elective Classics course are doing two years of Latin; as 1st years, they showed so much promise that we changed back to the old system of 2 years of Latin before possibly taking Classics instead. The impact of this is that I now get to rewrite my 3rd year course to offer an overview of Ancient Greece and Rome, choosing the best bits of my old 2nd year Greece and 3rd year Rome courses.

The other ‘new thing’ is that our school will be getting Firefly VLE this term, and I am one of a few teachers testing how it can be used before we help roll it out to the rest of the school. I plan to use it heavily in the construction of my course: creating the ‘pages’ for each course has proved to be quite a useful planning tool so far, even though that’s kind of a backwards approach.

The pupils: On top of being promising in Latin, this year’s crop are a fun bunch, who have responded well to the individual achievements in the Latin grammar course, and then enjoyed applying their knowledge in translation. But, they have shorter attention spans that this year’s 3rd years, who actually named the three weeks of reading antiquated translations of Livy and Polybius’ accounts of the Second Punic War and studying Hannibal’s battle tactics as their favourite part of the course (Mission accomplished!) I’m the only teacher giving this course, so I get to do what I want with it, and ‘gamifying’ this demanding course looks like a fun way of dealing with a rewrite and maintaining interest over the year.

Challenges: Finally, I have a personal mission to make my courses better than before. I have a habit of trying to cover everything, and while I half expected this forcibly more selective approach, with less time overall for the course to be delivered, to be stressful, it is actually a breath of fresh air and a load of pressure off to not have to cover so much. So, this year I intend to go back to the model of standalone lessons – one lesson = one topic, or one separated part of a topic at least, rather than several continuing lessons on the same topic. There shouldn’t be too much of an issue with differentiation between my three classes as we don’t set/stream in this subject, but still the object is to have lessons that fit within the timeframe and still allow for stretch and challenge of those of higher ability. (NOTE: I tend to set high expectations at KS3. They’re always met, in some way and at some point, by every student. However, if something isn’t working, I always change direction then and there rather than flogging it, and then rewrite the course appropriately before the next lesson. I rarely have to do this: Classics is a pick-n-mix of fascination, so it’s easy to create an interesting course.)

These are my thought-process notes so far, and later on I’ll be publishing a more detailed outline of how I have families the course, possibly along with some downloads. Any comments from teachers similarly approaching their courses for the new year, or those with experience of GAMIFICATION or Firefly VLE, are very welcome!


FIRST Ideas for course:

Need to include most important/interesting aspects of Greek and Roman history, and then have 3/4 tasks inspired by and based on them to complete (class work/homework), some of which can be completed on Firefly.

Favourite topics as voted by last year’s classes:

– timelines of Greece and Rome (context is important)

– epic poetry (Iliad and Aeneid extracts)

– religion/mythology (Basics, gods etc – as this is covered heavily in the GCSE course it’s preferable not to cover it in depth now)

– wars and war tactics (Hannibal 2nd Punic War was most popular last year despite reading a ton of Victorian translation of Livy and Polybius)

– everyday life? Through relevant topics: youth, law – videos (eg: Murder in Rome would make a good ‘Orate like Cicero’ task, where students identify his techniques and attempt to use them – underused last year)

– champions of history: both male and female heroes (Hannibal, Julius Caesar….? Who are the Greek heroes save for the mythical ones?)
GAMIFICATION aspect – show understanding of some basic principles, build skills in certain areas.

Reward system:  gain custom stickers for them after achieving a certain number/level of skill.

Or, desirable sticker for each completed pat of the course, with bonus stickers for achievements?

Beautiful and inspiring achievement badges by Geri Cody for a health app:
Beautiful and inspiring achievement badges by Geri Cody for a health app: http://hellogeri.ctom/


**Each section needs to be built around a series of tasks, skills, eg: poetry technique analysis, text analysis, reading of sources, paragraph writing (discussing, explanation, analysis) – ‘scorecard’ for these in front of books. When each one achieved, get sticker. BONUS stickers for achievements available**



SECOND Topic ideas so far (need to pin down further)

1) Minoan, Mycenaean

– architecture and way of life, Minotaur myth, Mycenae buildings, Iliad, Troy’s discovery, end of period

2) Dark Age, Geometric

Language, how to redevelop your culture!

2) Archaic, Classical

Domination of Athens, Democracy, Persian wars

3) Athens (and Sparta)

4 -6) Rome: settlement, Kingdom, Republic, empire
**realisation: Could also do this simply with Latin course for 1st years – each part of course turned into an achievement with a sticker on a grid? get sticker when have shown understanding, such as through explaining to class, helping another student, achieving in a written/translation task.


THIRD The course in more detail a Topics, tasks and achievements so far:

1: ‘Ancient Greece’ (badge: Archaeology)

i) Lesson on timeline of important periods

Researching features of each time period? (Usborne books)

Share on the board

ii) Lessons on Minoan culture in more depth – archaeology: wall paintings, architecture, Myth of the Minotaur

iii) Lessons on Mycenaean culture in more depth – archeology: Mycenae ruins, grave findings, Trojan excavation By Schliemann

2: Iliad and Odyssey: (badge: Epic Poetry)

i) Lesson on the stories – epic poems, rhapsodes, time frame of stories, precise of both stories: leads to choosing one to read about in more detail?

ii) Lesson on types of plot (linear rising action, non-linear quest plot): make your own plot to match each, or use a story you know

iii) Lesson on characters: what makes a Homeric Hero: make a diagram

iv) Lessons on reading and analysis: reading and listening along to the story, analysing the description but also just enjoying the listening! : leads to a written paragraph


I intend to do a bit more reading before finalising my gamification plans, starting with these articles on Gamification in Classics:



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