Gamification and my classroom 2: rewarding pupils, rewarding course

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

Last night I read an excellent article at elearningindustry.com, titled ‘A Practical Way to Apply Gamification In the Classroom‘, which is a great read, especially if you’re new to the whole term.

In the article, the author, Rambo Levin, specifies that the main features expected in Gamification, especially in the classroom, are:

  • Challenge
  • Chance
  • Competition
  • Cooperation
  • Feedback
  • Rewards
  • Winning
  • Progression

Considering briefly how these can be attained in class, I’ve added:

  • Challenge. – increase difficulty of topics
  • Chance. – need a way to gain XP in class for things like participation or great concentration, and randomly-attainable XP for in-class achievements
  • Competition. – getting more XP than others
  • Cooperation. – with teacher! Responding to comments? Also with each other (group work – reward as per ‘Chance’?)
  • Feedback. – given by teacher in how to gain XP (improvements) for their work. ‘Infinite Learning’ – how to allow students to continue with work until they get it right, while the east of the class moves on?
  • Rewards. – XP, BADGES
  • Winning. – most proficient and consistent wins Classics award at end of year (School award)
  • Progression. – students should be able to have a visual appraisal of their work in their book, and clear signs of both how to progress and how they have progressed from looking at this appraisal


My method of deciding how to organise the gamified course
has already been decided in my last set of notes – tasks within each unit that you can gain XP for, with a badge at the end (and skills pertaining to those tasks!) Each unit should have a skillset, and those skills should be revisited over the year, allowing the student to improve.

However, Homework is a sticky point. Last year, I found that most Homework tasks were far too difficult to mark on time whilst giving adequate (well, for me that normally means ‘too much’ and is another area for self-improvement) feedback, when they were set every week. They were also marked at the cost of class work, which I would like to put more emphasis on this year (skill tasks). With Firefly, I should be able to set less ‘marked’ homework and set more ‘research’ and independent learning – watching chosen videos, reading particular sources from the Internet or which I can post online, which is far more interesting when discussed in the class.
There should also be a chance for ‘Infinite Learning’, which could be a ‘free’ homework used to improve a piece of work, to gain more XP. I think this could foster more personal pride in individual work.

My next decision was how to award XP in a way that meets my school’s expectations. I need to keep in line with the work award system, which values Effort as well as Attainment, and which is used in most departments. This also leads to the need for there to be an expected amount of XP to be achieved in each course. The students will need to achieve a % of that XP to pass. (Note: I do not expect any of them not to pass, and if this did occur, they would need to have Detentions to make up the work.) This system will also allow for showing whether work has been missed due to illness or sport, which unfortunately happens very frequently with this year group (the sport, not the illness!) Firefly, where I will have made an online page with the resources for the lesson that can be viewed and downloaded from home, will also help prevent students falling behind, and should also lessen the workload involved in emailing students resources individually!

Solution: I discovered that by creating a number grid with Effort (1-4) and Achievement (A-D) along the axes and numbers that decrease exponentially, creates an XP system that rewards Effort even more than Attainment, as I wanted:

A.     B.      C.      D
1. 500| 475| 450| 400
2. 400| 375| 350| 300
3. 300| 275| 250| 200
4. 200| 175| 150| 100

So, a 1A = 500XP, exhibiting best perceived Effort and Attainment, while a 1C, demonstrating a great Effort but little understanding and room for improvement, still earns a decent 450. However, a rush-job that’s messy as well as well as showing little understanding will gain a 3C, only 250 XP: far more to improve.

I decided on an overall task award of 500XP, staying away from the dreaded ‘100’ that immediately gets converted into a percentage in most children (and parents’) minds. Overall I’ve estimated 4 marked tasks per unit, and 2 marked task homeworks (I may change this depending on how much Firefly can be used in this experimental term – I can set videos to be watched and sources to be read that can be ticked off, in addition to markable tasks) This creates a base XP expectancy of 3000XP. Students will hopefully enjoy using the number grid to convert their grade into XP and filling in a grid in the front of their books – and comparing their results with others.

However, fulfilling an expectation is not as fun as surpassing it. So, how to give out extra XP? How to quantify it? And will I need to make more badges? (As I’m going to have to buy and print these myself, I don’t really want to have to have loads!)
My ideas followed this route:

Participation badge? Or rising scale? (Self-tick? As a health bar? Keep it up? HOW COULD THIS WORK?) TOKENS!! Have them printed, give them out in class, can colour in their score at end of lesson/ mark in books! (Then take them back)

So, for participating in class, I will toss the pupil a token. For working particularly well in class, another token can be given. If the tokens are for low XP values, they can be collected up, and also given in quantities of denominations during random bursts of delight. Managing class time should allow for a minute at the end to collect back the tokens and make a note of what has been collected: I would prefer to do this myself, to keep a real eye on who isn’t gaining these, and who is gaining lots, although it may be more practical to have the students map these into a separate grid each lesson, that I will check when they give in their books.

Token ideas: Participation scores with stickers over the year! Additional XP for each module. Participation counter : 10XP each
Impressive(?) counter?: 20XP (only a few per lesson?)
Say best can collect up to 100XP per lesson (highest likely)
Over 4 lessons = 400XP (allow for extra lessons)
So make maximum extra XP ALLOWED = 500XP (tbc)
(Counters: make from card or shrink plastic)

I toyed with the idea of creating badges for exceeding the expected XP, but found this would create far too many badges to have printed that might not get used. To avoid this wastage, I’ve come up with the idea of using a 3-tier system of additional stickers that can be used with any of the Units to gauge how many XP over the expected amount:

With Merit = 150+ additional XP (print about 50 for my 72 pupils? Per Unit?)
With Honour = 250+ additional XP (about 30 ?)
With Distinction = 350+ additional XP (about 20?)
RARE ACHIEVEMENT = 450XP (about 10?)

(I’ll think about these numbers again once I have written the course and have a firm idea of how much is potentially attainable)

Now it remains to plan the course, design the badges, and the frontispiece for the books with all their XP and badge-collection grids!

Any thoughts and comments are well appreciated.

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