Game Mechanics (Week 8)

Which aspects of story and game mechanics will be useful in your class and how might you use them?

This coming week, I am planning on teaching a lesson with story, XP (unrelated to grading), and a leaderboard. The lesson is on time management for several groups of teens.

I had a game-based lesson plan already and am looking at ways of taking it to the next level and gamifying it. Once I started adding in the element of story, I began to get excited! The students will be stranded on an island in the North Pacific (irony: we live on an island). I’m still working on the details and how to work the productivity quiz students will take at the beginning of class into the story.

Students will be divided into groups. I thought about adding in some roles (hunter, gatherer, entertainer, builder) but I think that will be too much information for our short time period. Students will be presented with a list of tasks each worth a certain amount of XP and focused on acting out island survival. Going with the idea that survival involves: shelter, fire, signaling for help, water, food and a positive attitude. For instance, students can earn 1XP for every ounce of water their group is carrying. There are also several activities that involve getting up and moving. Kapp (2o15) suggests not to start with objectives, but with having the learner make decisions which immediately engages learners.

Since I’m concerned that these groups could be difficult to motivate as we’ve never met and they are in a new environment, I’ll have some badges on hand to offer to students who are active in the game. Cox (n.d.) notes that badges can have a postive effect on classroom management.

Matera (2014 Loc 803) mentioned a sundown timer and I thought it would be great to have students finish their tasks by sunset. I was unable to find one, but I found another on YouTube that will work and I’ll just build the sunset into the story.

When the time is up we’ll add up the XP (I’m going to TRY to track points as the groups are working, but it might be crazy) and put the groups on the Leaderboard (just marker on a whiteboard). I’ll then show Eisenhower’s Matrix (see image below) and we’ll figure out how the tasks fit into the matrix. Groups can try for a few minutes, then we’ll discuss as a whole group.


Whew! Sounds like a lot of work for a 30 minute lesson, but I’m thrilled with how adding in a story really gave me a lot to work with and added much more depth to the lesson allowing me to draw on students knowledge of the outdoors, which wouldn’t have come up otherwise.


Cox, J. (n.d.). Classroom Management: Using Gaming Elements. Retrieved from: on October 24, 2016.

Kapp, K. (2014, March 12). Eight Game Elements to Make Learning More Intriguing. Association for Talent Development. Retrieved from: on October 24, 2016.

Matera, M. (2015). Explore Like a Pirate: Engage, Enrich, and Elevate Your Learners with Gamification and Game-inspired Course Design [E-Reader Version]. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.




5 thoughts on “Game Mechanics (Week 8)

  1. Heather,

    Time management is always a tricky topic to address. Gamification might be just the way to bring a sense of urgency and fun to the matter. I like how you process as you go, adding or subtracting where you see fit. I honestly believe that your ability to be fluid and flexible makes for great learning experiences or your students!



  2. Interesting story about that math teacher with negative feedback from parents/public because of trying something new. Sometimes I feel that parents want their kids to be taught like they were, which usually means not a lot of technology, or games. Had a talk with a parent today about math curriculum today. We were going out hunting and he asked about what I thought about our “new” math texts and resources. He was not too impressed or understood the choices made. He still feels like calculators have their place, but not necessarily in the hands of kids all the time. I shared my feelings about how there is a subset of students, especially in high school, that really need to use a calculator because it allows them to focus on problem solving, and not hand computations, which kids have difficulty with. This is a little off topic, but I wanted to share that parents are sometimes skeptical about new educational trends, and don’t think school should change. Gamification is one of those trends that are really off in “left field”. But I think it would help a segment of kids.


    1. Hi Gerald,
      Yes, change can be hard, but if the kids buy in to the gamification concept (as apparently happens with Matera’s classes) I think the majority of parents would come along. ESPECIALLY when they see the great gains in learning taking place.


    2. I find that when parents understand why we are doing what we are doing – that there is research behind it – and especially if they are able to see it work – they are more open to these strategies they aren’t familiar with. If their child just comes home and says all we did is play games in class today – then they are left to make the sense they can of that and may not be as pleased :-). Keeping parents as partners when using new strategies can cure many headaches (and complaints).


  3. Heather- This sound like a wonderful unit. Have you have experience with games before in your class. I would love to try one but I am not experience and don’t know how to create badges to anything like that. Its just seems a little overwhelming for me. I was not able to find the sunset timer as well when I tried to look for it. I tried to click on your that you found but would not bring me to it. Can you provide that because I thin I would love to use that someday in my class. I look forward to hearing how you lesson goes! Good luck!


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