Scott Hebert on Gamification in the Classroom
“There is an engagement crisis in school.”
Scott Hebert, a new teacher, in a new school, in a new community, realized there was a problem with the way students were struggling to pay attention in class. He went from being a fourth grade phys ed teacher to being a eighth grade sciences and technologies teacher. The differences in the classrooms were alarming. The younger grade was full of children who were enthusiastic and engaged during class. The new class was filled with older students struggling to pay attention and hold onto the information being given to them. Scott realized his class time was too much of him talking, and too little of the kids doing.
So, he gamified.
As he researched ways to help his students, Scott came across the concept of gamification. Essentially, gamification is the act of applying game elements to non traditional game settings. Scott took a normal eighth grade classroom and turned it into a medieval land. The students were put into teams, called guilds, and given school work that had been completely gamified. They had to earn everything. Whether it’s their school desk or their pencil, if the students wanted it, they had to first complete certain challenges. The students would encounter people and have to use science to solve their problems or defeat their enemies.
They’re progressing to try to stop a monster they refer to as the minotaur king who has enslaved Scott. The students travel through five different kingdoms, the five units of science, meeting different monsters and completing challenges.
The result of the gamification of Scott’s class has been phenomenal. The students love it. They are completely engaged, and they are learning and retaining information at a faster rate than normal.
Although Scott has met with great success jumping straight into the complete gamification of his class, he suggests taking it slow for most people. One example of how to do this is Jenga.
You set up the jenga tower and ask the students trivia questions which they earn points for. However, they can only access the points to their team total if they successfully pull a block from the tower. You can make rules for the block, like saying you have to pull it out with your eyes closed. Something that should be simple becomes really difficult. The achievements of knocking a block out suddenly becomes a way for kids to earn hero status.The students leave on a high of achievement and excitement and, through it all, the teacher is able to give the students an excellent review of class material.
There are challenges to using gamification. One problem Scott ran into was the amount of time it took for him to gamify his class material. In order to help other teachers avoid a bit of that struggle, he has offered to help others with basic resources and he shares what he has learned on his blog and youtube channel which will be supplied below.
The approach of gamification helps teachers and students alike as it keeps the students engaged, and helps the teachers share knowledge in a way that helps the information stick and stay in their students minds. Gamification is an awesome way to solve the engagement crisis.
Helpful Links and Resources from this Interview:
Scott’s website: www.mrhebert.org
Twitter and Instagram: @MrHebertPE
Youtube Channel: Master Heebs