BYOT & Me

Exploring "Bring Your Own Technology" and Project-Based Learning

Classcraft

May11

January in Georgia is NOT my favorite time of year.  Christmas is over, it gets dark earlier, a lot of people are out sick and I’m generally dragging myself from one day to the next.  Until this year.  On January 9, 2017 school was closed because of inclement weather- snow and ice.  In Forsyth County teachers post lessons for the students online, which allows students to complete their work without making up the school day.  Teachers work from home, posting lessons, checking emails, and answering student questions, during  office hours for the day. The downtime gave me an opportunity to check out a couple of webinars and plan ahead for the next few days.  I found a webinar about gaming in the classroom.  After 45 minutes I was sold on the idea, but confused as to where to begin.  I thought, maybe over the summer I could figure out how to run my classroom like a game.

Lunch and more hot coffee fueled my desire to figure out how to make my classroom a game, but where to begin?  Suddenly, the idea occurred to me that someone had probably figured this out.  So, I did what I always do and what the students are told not to do- I googled it! That is how I found Classcraft.  This program, which works on all technology devices, changed my dreary winter days to fun, engaged my students, motivated them to work together in teams, provided easy formative assessments, and surprised us daily.  It was so easy to get started, which was good for an old timer like me with no gaming experience.  Classcraft provided a getting starting video and I watched most of it before I jumped in with both feet.

When we returned to school the following day, I had a plan, a skip in my step, and surprise for my students.  I showed my class the Classcraft introductory video.  They were so excited!  I explained that I needed their help and they were more than willing to walk me through it.  Over the next few days we divided into teams, chose team names, team crests, and student roles: warriors, mages, or healers.

Next, students helped me tweak the behaviors that would earn XP points, (experience points needed for the next level) or take away HP points, (health points to keep you alive).  This led to good conversations about behavior expectations and consequences. It did not take very long to accomplish and I think students bought into the game because they had input.

Next, we tweaked the powers of the warriors, mages, and healers. It is essential for each team to have at least one warrior, mage and healer to provide balance.  Each role has special powers that help the team.  At this point the teams were able to start earning points for being prepared, answering questions in class, or turning in high quality work.  (We had a great discussion on what high quality work would look like.)

Then, we added the Random Events.  When students enter my classroom there is a short warm-up on the board.  Students begin this work while I take attendance.  As soon as I finish attendance, I click on the Random Event.  These are so fast and fun.  We started with the preset events and then added more as we went along. Here’s some of our favorites:

  • Gift of the Gamemaster- 1000 XP to one random student
  • Abundance of Energy- 15 AP to the player with the least AP
  • Boon or Bane?- you find a cursed blade, one player loses 25 AP, but gains 300XP
  • Thief- One random student loses 50 GP, and one random student gains 50GP.
  • Plenty to Go Around- the player with the least XP on each team gains 300XP

Next, we added the Wheel of Destiny which chooses one random team or player.  This is where Classcraft went from improving behavior and motivating students to increasing student learning.  The Wheel of Destiny made two immediate improvements in my classroom.  First, when choosing teams, students, who were too shy to answer, would speak because they had an opportunity to clarify their answers with their teams before answering.  I could hear the team conversations and was immediately able to assess the level of understanding.  Secondly, when choosing individuals, the students were suddenly motivated to complete the work to be able to answer the questions to get the points.  (Can you see me smiling?)

Finally, we added the Boss Battles.  Boss Battles are quick formative assessments.  I choose a monster for students to defeat, make a short “quiz” with multiple choice, true false, or short answer questions, and decide the reward.  Students can play as teams or individuals to defeat the monster.  Students LOVE the Boss Battles!

Boss Battles and the loss of health points for negative behaviors caused some students to die in battle.  When this happens, team members may step in the heal them, protect them or transfer power to save their teammates.  However, if a student dies in battle, their name goes into the Book of Laments.  When this happens, a student has to carry out a sentence in order to get back in the game.  We tweaked the sentences to fit my class.  Sometimes, students get a free pass, but other times they have to  clean the classroom, do a review worksheet, work a crossword puzzle or complete some type of assignment to get back in the game.  This is a great opportunity to review material and student work willingly and eagerly to finish their sentences.

Classcraft has other tools that we’ve started enjoying.  My favorite is the new volume meter.  It uses the microphone on my laptop to monitor the sound level in the room.  I set the acceptable level of noise, enter the points and gold pieces for the reward and click start. Have you ever, in your wildest dreams, imagined students asking to work quietly???  My students do!  It is amazing to watch students work quietly in teams, with a partner, or individually for a set amount of time.  Even with the end of the year chaos right now, they will work quietly.  If an announcement is made or a fire alarm goes off I can click false alarm and students do not lose their reward.  If they get too loud, the reward is cut in half- but not taken away. When I started using the volume meter, I could hear the angels singing.

In addition to the Random Event, the Wheel of Destiny, the Volume Meter, and the Boss Battle, there is the White Mountain Countdown.  This is simply a countdown timer.  I use it to inspire students to finish work quickly or focus for short sprints of work.  It really helps them focus.

There are other tools that I’ve just started using.  For example, Classcraft works with Google Classroom.  Classcraft converts grades and work turned in on time to points and gold pieces for rewards. There is also interactive class content which allows me to post extra credit work for students to complete for even more points or gold pieces.  I try to post something for extra credit each month for points, not for a grade.  Students have created tornadoes in a bottle, completed a tsunami web-quest, completed a water cycle web-quest, carried out at-home science experiments and discussed a Ted Talk about the oceans just to earn bonus points to get to the next level in the game.

So, Classcraft has  increased student motivation, participation, and engagement, along with improving behavior.  It has encouraged students to work in teams, to collaborate, and build on each others knowledge.  It has also added an element of surprise and fun into my classroom on a regular basis.  I highly recommend Classcraft for your classroom.

3 Comments to

“Classcraft”

  1. May 19th, 2017 at 11:38 am      Reply 109182 Says:

    The first paragraph really got my ATTENTION. In other words it is making me want to read more of your blog.


  2. May 22nd, 2017 at 2:13 pm      Reply 102428 Says:

    I like how you took the time to put in all those detailed pictures. The paragraph looks really good!


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