Friday, February 28, 2014

Gamification Series Part 1: An Introduction

In September of 2013, I gamified my World History course.

Let’s unpack that a bit.  About a month earlier, I conducted a Flipped Learning presentation and workshop at the Games in Education Symposium in Malta, NY.  Before presenting, I had the opportunity to attend RPI professor Lee Sheldon’s morning session.  After hearing about his incredible journey (from Hollywood writer & game designer to academia) and how he successfully morphed his college courses into live-action multiplayer games, my mind was made up.   I had to try this.  World History at PHS would be gamified. 

The thought had crossed my mind several times over the past few years.  I actually remember one conversation with a student in detail.  It was in the spring of 2012 and we had just transitioned completely from “Flipped 101” to a “Flipped-Mastery” environment.  As the class worked their way through our World War II unit, one student mentioned that the learning objectives grid resembled levels in a game.  He also suggested that I reward fellow students who progress through these learning objectives the quickest.  Although intrigued, I did not pursue this concept until the Games in Education conference gave me the inspiration and guidance necessary to take the initial steps towards gamification.

I spent the next few weeks combing through any gamification resource that I could find, from Sheldon’s The Multiplayer Classroom, to McGonigal’s Reality is Broken, to the countless websites, blogs, and Twitter chats about gamification and game-based learning.  I even came across some solid research about gamification conducted by Columbia University

I then spent the run-up to the 2013-2014 school year adding game elements to my course.  My colleague Brian Germain, who was already flipping his US History classes, decided to go all in as well.  We were both about to LEVEL UP! 

The purpose of this post is to provide context for the gamification series to come.  I decided not to write about our experiences until we had a full semester of gamification behind us.  This allowed time to reflect and wrap my head around all of the incredible changes going on in our class. 

I also wanted to share my experiences in a more complete and concise way.  I am therefore writing the following series of thematic posts that will hopefully prove a useful resource for those interested into venturing into the gamification realm.  

My goal is to publish an article each friday over the next 14 weeks. Here is a outline of the upcoming posts. 

What is Gamification?
Why Gamify?
Our Quest
Student Viewpoints on Gamification
Badges & Achievements
Points Through Attrition XP
Guilds & Team Missions
Narrative & Avatars
Managing Gamification
The Next Level

I am wrapping up this initial post with a question that all teachers should consider when thinking about gamification and it’s role in education: 

How can educators leverage the motivational power of games to create environments that engage students and enhance learning?

This series is my sincere attempt to answer this question.  I hope you can learn from our journey at PHS and help take gamification to the next level!

Next Post: What is Gamification?

Complete Gamification Series

Part 1: Introduction
Part 15: The Next Level

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

FlipCon14 Coming Together

The 7th Annual Flipped Learning Conference will be held June 23-25th (outside Pittsburgh) and the sessions and events are all starting to come together.  I along with several members of my PLN were excited to hear this week that presentations have been accepted, now it's just a matter of booking the flight!  I can't wait to meet, collaborate, and learn with so many awesome people that I've known via Twitter/GHOs/etc but never have had the opportunity to actually meet in person.

I encourage anyone interested in Flipped Learning to consider making the trip to PA, it is going to be an incredible event!  If being there in person isn't possible, there is also the Virtual Conference.  I actually participated in the virtual event for the past two years.  The sessions are streamed live with a backchannel that encourages virtual attendees to ask questions during each presentation.  The videos are then archived for about six months for you to view, which is great since you can take your time going through great resource.  

For those interested, here are the sessions that I am Leading or Co-Presenting at FlipCon14:

- Level Up With Gamification (Co-Presenter - Brian Germain

- EdTech to Democratize Your Flipped Class (Co-Presenter - Jason Bretzmann)

- The Places You'll Go.  From Flipping 101 to Flipping 2.0.  (Lead Presenter - Jason Bretzmann)

- Panel Discussion -  Flipped Learning: Gateway to Student Engagement (with fellow co-authors...)

I hope to see many of you in PA this June!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Gamification PD With Viewing Guide

I was recently contacted by Carl Harrington, Social Studies Dept. Head at East Wake Academy in North Carolina.  He wanted to share the Level up With Gamification video with his staff and decided that to help them "Eat the Elephant"  (Carl's awesome word choice), he created this timestamped outline of the PD session.  A big thanks go out to Carl and I hope that this outline proves helpful to anyone interested in gamification.  The outline here is accompanied by the embedded video further below.  (If you view on Youtube, timestamped links are included in "about" section.) 

Level Up with Gamification Viewing Guide
:50     Sorting game to create groups
2:41   Tie-breaker activity to determine the winner of the sorting game
6:00   Nail game
8:30   Overview
10:00  What does it mean to Gamify?
12:00  Why Gamify? (Connection to brain-based and mastery learning)
14:30  Grading “Earning” the grade rather being “given” the grade
19:00  Creating Levels and Level Challenges
23:00  Mechanics of Creating a Gamified Class
25:40  Leveling
26:20  Badges and Achievements
29:00  XP and Leaderboards
30:15  Team Missions
31:06  Creating a Narrative 
33:30  Managing the Gamified Classroom
34:00  Mission Guides and Learning Maps
37:00  Progress Monitoring
38:00  Swiping in
40:30  Mission Progress/ Rundown
42:00  Tech Integration
42:00  LMS System
45:50  Google Apps
47:00  Empowerment
49:46  Pacing
52:00  Challenges
53:00  Achievements
56:00  Student Viewpoints
1:03:01   Level up Button  (Immediate Feedback)
1:04:40   Changes and Improvements
1:05:15   Augmented Reality
1:11:00   Question and Answer

Level Up With Gamification Video (View on YouTube)

Friday, February 7, 2014

"1 Minute Pitch" Videos for 20 Time

We've made several changes to this year's 20 Time project, thanks in large part to my awesome PLN that shares their 20 Time resources and reflections regularly, particularly Karl LS.   (If unfamiliar w/ 20 Time projects, here is a great place to start)

One big change has been a focus on the "pitch."

By November, most students had completed their 20 Time Proposals and were ready for the next step. Before diving right in, we instead spent a couple weeks developing 1 minute pitch videos. They completed this form to help organize their thoughts and develop a script.  Then, each team went into the "green screen room"  (vacant office in the back of the library) to film their videos.

In general, each video needed the following components:  Project Title, Problem/Issue, Your Product (Solution), Audience, and Closing Statement.

Although some took this process less seriously than others, I think that it still helped all students think more deeply about the purpose of their 20 Time projects while also taking more ownership of their work.  

Here are a few samples of their pitch videos from December:

Volleyball: Will You Play Today?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Flipped Learning: Gateway to Student Engagement

It was recently announced that Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams' new book "Flipped Learning: Gateway to Student Engagement" is now available for pre-order and will be officially published by ISTE this June!  Jon and Aaron's first book was incredibly influential to me and countless other educators around the globe, and I'm sure that this new book will inform and inspire even more as the Flipped Learning movement continues to grow.

I was honored to be asked by Jon and Aaron to contribute a chapter to this book along with eight incredible educators from across the nation that I appreciate and greatly admire.  My chapter is titled "Democratize Learning Through the Flipped Classroom" and is based upon both my graduate research at Columbia University and classroom experiences with my students at Putnam High School in Connecticut.  

Below is the official description of the new book provided by ISTE:

"Flipped classroom pioneers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams take their revolutionary educational philosophy to the next level in Flipped Learning. Building on the energy of the thousands of educators inspired by the influential book Flip Your Classroom, this installment is all about what happens next -- when a classroom is truly student-centered and teachers are free to engage with students on an individual level.
Flipping, combined with practical project-based learning pedagogy, changes everything. Loaded with powerful stories from teachers across curriculum and grade levels, Flipped Learning will once again turn your expectations upside-down and fuel your excitement for teaching and learning."