Week 11 Reflection

This week I’ve been thinking about how to gamify a Thanksgiving walk more than the gamification of my course. For my course I feel the need to step back a bit and figure out which parts are essential and which I have the time to tackle.

My previous walk was well received. No complaints, which was my goal. I had my 9 year old daughter a little freaked out because I said that the Orcs who were chasing us were all driving white pickups and there were white pickups EVERYWHERE on our 2o minute drive to the hiking spot. She thought I had lots of accomplices. Below, climbing trees to escape the Orcs.


On this upcoming Thursday, a few of my under 15-year-old friends and I will be running from giant mutated turkeys.

Challenges will be a bit more complicated involving some STEM-ish activities

  • Catapult  (make a weapon) shoot spruce cones at the giant turkeys. We can do this several times on the walk.
    • popsicle sticks
    • rubberbands
  • Use found materials to hide paper turkeys as decoys to distract the giant turkeys.
    • paper turkey
  • Make a boat that floats as another decoy attempt.
    • paper (recycled)
    • pennies
    • tin foil
  • Make butter. Turkeys happen to be terrified of butter. “Butterball” is what turkeys call the boogie man. It will be our weapon of last resort and we’ll eat it at dinner, too.
    • jar
    • clabbered cream
    • salt
  • Bottle-flipping and hula hooping are both de rigueur in my house this week, so I’ll incorporate those as challenges, too. I think the hula hoops will create a forcefield. and the bottles will be weapons (hit the turkey on the nose, or something).

I know this walk will go well, I already have buy in. Here’s hoping the weather holds.


Hi Gerald,
I like your plan, it sounds great. I think it’s really important that we begin with what we’re comfortable (or maybe just slightly uncomfortable) with so that what we are doing will be sustainable. You started with language, which is really the foundation. Thanks for the resources you shared.

Hi Theresa,
Thanks for posting the resources. I’m going to check out Quizizz. That would work better for me than Kahoot, since my classes are asynchronous. I like that the quiz can be assigned as homework.

I was intrigued by Aurasma, too, it has a high cool factor. But I’m not interested in working with it right now because it’s glitchy and inconsistent.

An Alaska unit would bet rich with possibilities! For example (depending on your subject), students could choose a famous Alaskan to be their avatar and find out some information about that person to share. You could also do something with the Iditarod race such as students are racing and they have to meet challenges along the route. The challenges can be your activities or assessments. If students are moving too fast, you can create mandatory stops or have a blizzard to slow them down. 🙂 I love brainstorming ideas!

Fantastic, Sarah! I bet you’ll get a lot of buy in! It would be interesting to take some sort of a poll before you begin your gamified unit to measure engagement, and then again after playing the game. I’ve been looking for some sort of quantifiable evidence for a gamified classroom for students especially at the high school level. Your students are lucky to have you!

Gamification Rough Draft Week 10

Please keep your post between 350-550 words. We just want an outline of your game and some of its best attributes as you are thinking now.


A version of Monopoly will guide the students through the coursework as they learn about the modern world of computing and learn skills in Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint.

The course is Computer Concepts in Business Applications. I’ll develop a story (which is in flux!) that has students moving through a world in the future. They need to collect game pieces for some reason yet to be identified.

There are 8 sets of cards for the board above. Each property/card would have 2 tasks to be completed to earn title to the card/property. Two sets of cards have tasks relating to one of the 4 programs.

In my initial idea was that students could collect the cards in any order. Which would keep the game from getting too complicated from a user perspective.

I’d like to incorporate a surprise once a week: awarding  a lucky student a “Get out of jail free” card which could be cashed in for one assignment. I could easily track this in the gradebook. Every student would get one by the end of the semester. I could even choose the week students would receive the award ahead of time.


  • How to hold students accountable for completing a certain number of tasks each week.There is a way to set up Blackboard so that students move through material sequentially and only after they have completed certain tasks, but it’s not a feature I’ve used and it doesn’t allow for the randomness I’m proposing. I’d likely have to set up paths.
  • There is potential for cheating, students could split up coursework pretty easily.
  • Grading would be more difficult as students would not be completing the same assignments each week. I could incorporate some self-grading with rubrics.
  • Coordinating discussion boards, which often relate to the program students are working on–I could make the discussion boards asynchronous.
  • “Monopoly”, the idea of the game, and all its “-opoly” variations are copyrighted. To set a good example for students I’d need to do quite a bit of tweaking.


  • Use the Monopoly formula only for a few weeks of the course. Get ’em in and get ’em hooked. Most students enjoy the hands-on portion of the course using the different programs.
  • Limit (or eliminate) choice.
  • Use the Monopoly board only for the discussion boards.
  • Use VoiceThread (a more engaging way to have asynchronous discussions).

Thoughts & comments?





Reflection Week 10 Final Project Rubric

After reading my classmates’ posts I feel better emboldened to try out rough draft of my final project. I think I have a strong enough grasp on the concepts to say that I can meet the expectation on the rubric. I’ll work on exceeding the expectation as I move forward.


Clear purpose: The game, Monopoly will guide the students through the coursework as they practice learning skills in Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint.

(Insert course learning objectives here.)

Narrative context/Storyline: The course is Computer Concepts in Business Applications. I’ll develop a story that incorporates the monopoly concept. Perhaps the little guy with the monocle has had too long of a run as chief monopolizer and we’re going to see who gets to replace him. Of COURSE students can either pick their game piece or create their game piece.

Well-organized, risk oriented problem solving: Students will complete challenges (activities) to gain pieces of property on the Monopoly board. There can be a choice of challenges. Current assessments will be broken into small chunks. This part will take much more development.

Engaging and motivating: A choice of activities of varying difficulty.  I’m hoping the game elements: choosing a marker, keeping track of one’s progress, the ability to choose a set of topics at will, prove motivating and engagine.

Interactivity (Collaboration): Students will have a chance to interact with one another, particularly in the discussion portion of the class. Students will be able to work with others who are working on the same section of the course.

Skill scaffolding and mastery: Activities will be leveled, either by students choice or by students working their way through a set of activities.

Encouragement and Feedback: Feedback is given regularly. Students can re-do graded activities after feedback so that students can learn from mistakes. Feedback will be somewhat timely (within a week).

Utility: If all students are familiar with Monopoly, then that will certainly help. If they aren’t I’ll need explanations. After initial set up, I don’t see the game needing more administrative guidance than reminders and encouragement.


Wow, Aleta! This is great. I like your idea about making a rough draft/outline.
I read your comment about how you felt you were writing a novelette for the class. I think it’s OK to develop the story as you go along. And I don’t think story needs to be very complicated. My “story” for my class will be that we’re playing Monopoly. Context and connections are so important!

Hi Gerald,
Story doesn’t have to be the way we traditionally think of storylines. Maybe stories don’t go with math, but if we about connecting to our students’ experiences. (Prior knowledge!) I was math-phobic in high school. It made it hard to learn. Maybe if I had been distracted by another element I could have forgotten to be afraid. Adding elements that stretch us as teachers AND stretch our content could help students who struggle to connect.
I know my first inclination is to teach as I like to learn and I take my favorite methods for granted. My students hate to read their textbook. They want videos. I LOVE my textbook–it’s SO self-explanatory…to me. I’ve begun telling stories about the particular content using videos. “This week we’re working for a snow plowing company and we’re going to use our database to find out who hasn’t paid their bill…” It’s not the great novel, but it provides context that the majority of my students miss.

Hi Sarah,
I like your plan! You make it sound do-able. When I think of a final project I want to have something “final” but it really will be a draft, because we WILL be tweaking as we go along.

What about calling your Easter Eggs Calcium Carbonate (what eggshells are made up of) Challenges? 🙂

Final Project Fun–Week 10

Matera suggests that we “embrace the freedoms within playful planning and put no anchors on the possibilities that take shape” when developing gamification in our classes (2013, loc. 1001).  Matera makes the process sound so fun and I want the process to be fun. Let’s make this project useful, worthwhile and fun–or at least not painful.

Let’s consider Matera’s explorer theme. Instead of a rubric, let’s have a treasure map. Let’s use Matera’s routes (see chapters 6-9) instead of columns and rows. Let me be a renegade pirate teacher looking for places to incorporate (or hide) my gamified treasure in my island classroom. I’m excited about gamification, I want to incorporate gamification in my classroom. I’m a teacher with years of experience. The elements of the rubric are important, but rubrics aren’t fun. Let me create my own path and I’ll have something worthwhile that I can and will use.

If we do use the rubric in some rendition of its current form I have concerns about trying to focus on too many elements and being detailed where I need to be flexible.

After (my rather tangential) reading this week, I’ve been pondering the importance of stories in games and presentations. Duarte asserted, “stories are the most powerful delivery tool for information, more powerful and enduring than any other art form” (2010, p. 16). Stories stick with us, that’s why games need stories, context and themes. This applies to our rubric as some elements may be more important than others and may need to be considered first. Matera’s first route focuses on the story elements and of course the learning objectives are paramount.

Currently, for my own plan, I have a clear purpose and learning objectives, I’ll need to develop a storyline, and add some mechanics  and mini-games so that students are engaged. I’m not sure how to articulate my ideas surrounding feedback, risk-taking and skill mastery, but feedback and skill-mastery are inherent to how I teach, not necessarily gamification.

Needs improvement Meets
1. Clear purpose that correlates with multiple learning objectives standards pertaining to coursework (20) The game does not relate more than superficially to the objectives or goals. The game correlates with multiple learning objectives, requiring only basic understanding of required skills. The game requires deep understanding of multiple learning objectives and provides opportunities to demonstrate higher level thinking.
2. Narrative Context/Storyline (20) Storyline is basic and does not “thread through” all of the game play. The context or storyline is apparent and continues throughout the game but there are limited opportunities to increase understanding of them. Provides opportunity for the player to explore other avenues of learning/adventure. Allows the player to deepen knowledge about various aspects of the game and naturally develops a deeper understanding of the context or storyline.
3. Well-organized, risk oriented problem solving (20) The game does not have well-organized problems. The problems require only basic recall and do not involve taking a risk; the problems do not increase in difficulty. Has multiple opportunities to problem solve at varying levels of abstraction. This may include (but is not limited to): puzzles, decisions with consequences reflecting those choices (i.e. involves risk taking); or playing out scenarios. The user should come away from the experience able to easily discuss with others using interpretation, meta-cognition, logic and other elements of critical thinking. Problem solving opportunities are recursive and transformative. The player is able to finish the game with an added skill set or transformed world-view. The user is able to create their own environment and scenarios that can be shared with other users. Users elicit their own discussion about the gaming experience.
4. Engaging and Motivating (20) Game does not offer sufficient engagement for players. Game play is either too easy or too difficult. The game involves activities that lack enjoyable elements. Game offers sufficient engagement for the players. Game play varies in difficulty and activity. The game has many fun elements that engage a wide range of players. The game is so engaging it is difficult to stop playing. The games learning environment offers an ideal mix of fun and challenging material. The game provides and excellent risk/reward system.
5. Interactivity (Collaboration): students are able to interact with other and the game (20) There is little or no interaction between players or between players and the game. Interaction with other players and with the game is occasionally encouraged, but may not play a significant role in game play. Interaction with others and/or with the game occurs regularly during game play. Collaboration is encouraged and allows the player to progress in the game while receiving support from other players and the game.
6. Skill scaffolding and mastery (20) Game is either frustrating for novice users due to difficulty or it doesn’t provide enough challenge for experienced users. Different levels/stages of game play are poorly related. Different levels of the game build upon prior learned skills. Initial game play may be difficult but rewards are attainable. The level of challenge provided by the game and player ability converge quickly. The difficulty level and pace of the game adapt to the player. Different levels of the game build upon prior learned skills.
7. Encouragement and Feedback (20) Feedback is not specific and does not happen in a timely manner. Feedback is provided less than 25% of the time. Feedback is somewhat timely and moderately specific; feedback doesn’t always help the player learn from his/her mistakes. Feedback may only occur 25-60% of the time. Feedback is immediate and specific, offering support for the player at least 60% of the time, allowing the player to learn from his/her mistakes.
8. Utility (20) Game play takes large allotments of time for instruction. Game play is too difficult for the user to understand. Game play is simple and easy to understand with little administrative guidance. Game play is simple enough to allow for user modification for creative purposes or customization, such as adding an avatar. Game play is intuitive and requires little or no administrative guidance for use. Game play encourages modification and customization, allowing for imagination and ingenuity. Examples might include: creating an avatar or some design elements like building/creating a home.


Duarte, N. (2010). Resonate: Present visual stories that transform audiences. John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.

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.

Zichermann, G. & Linder, J. (2013). The gamification revolution: how leaders leverage game mechanics to crush the competition. New York, NY, McGraw-Hill.

Infusing Play Reflection–Week 9

For my Journal this week, I’m sharing a collection of reviewed games, requiring little to no prep that should work in many different types of classrooms. I’m reminded of the importance of play in everyday life. Whether or not we’re successful in gamifying our classrooms, we can at least add in fun!


Prep: I have students write vocab words from particular units/lessons down on small pieces of paper and toss them in a (clean) hat I reserve for the purpose. Divide the class in two down the middle. I always called one half Group 1 and the other half Group A, so they would be equal. Sometimes I would give them 1 minute to come up with a name for themselves–sometimes the group name had to be a vocab word, if it fit, for example a color or an adjective in Spanish.

Each group has a speaker and a drawer. The speakers have a maraca or sound maker–you could have them raise their hands when they know the answers, but no shouting out and only the speaker can give the answer to the judge (which is usually me, but you can have a student fulfill the judge /scorekeeper role). The drawer comes to the board, draws a piece of paper with the vocab word from the hat, shares it with the other drawer. They might discuss for a few seconds if it’s a tricky word, or the first time you play. Sometimes I would offer an idea on how to draw if a student was stuck.

On your mark, get set, go! Drawers begin drawing. You may put a 30 second time limit on this part if you’d like. As soon as a team has the answer the speaker may shake the maraca/raise the hand. Once the judge/teacher calls on them they can answer. If correct the answering team gets one point. If incorrect the other team may attempt an answer. You can go back and forth until the answer is arrived upon or you’re ready for another round.

Team speakers pass the maraca to the next student and a new drawer for each group comes to the front of the class. I would typically give some item to the drawers so that they can pass a physical item off to keep track of whose turn it is.

I would typically play for 15 minutes or to 10 points. Sometimes in a challenge round I would pick something really hard to guess.

5-3-1 Chain Attack

This game is from Alexis Jackson, a high school math teacher. It does take a bit of prep. Make up a list of 10-20 problems for each group in your class–aim for groups of 4. You’ll need to cut the “chain” of problems–See the following document ch4-review-5-3-1-chain-attack. The problems are not cut apart completely, just on the blue lines.  The problems are ripped off one at a time as students go through them.    There is no reason that all the groups need to have different problems, but you could differentiate here.

Each group gets a problem from their chain and they work to solve it quickly with their group. When they are done the spokesperson brings the work to the teacher to check. If the problem is correct the group is awarded 5 points and gets the next problem in their “chain”, if they’re wrong they have to go back and try again. If they’re correct on the second attempt the group gets 3 points, if not back for one last try. They can gain one point if they complete the problem on the third try. If not they move on to the next problem in the chain with no points.

Make the students take turns being the spokesperson. After the problem is checked the spokesperson also adds to their score on the board.  So, the teacher sits in one corner to check answers and the students do the rest!

Royal Corners

This game is also from Alexis Jackson. This works best if your class is set up in desks in a grid. The front left- or right-most desk is designated “Royalty”.

You’ll need a list of review problems.  Post one problem on the board, overhead, or whatever you use, that each student in the class completes (on their own). You, the instructor, tell them whether it’s a horizontal problem or a vertical problem–you could choose this ahead of time, or strategically choose when to offer a horizontal or vertical problem.  When all students have finished, correct the answer as a class.  All students who complete the problem correctly raise their hand.  In the case of a horizontal problem, have the students look left and right. Students with hands raised move in the direction closer to royalty, while students with no hand up move away from royalty.  If all hands in a row are raised, there is no movement.  The same would happen if no hands are raised.  If 2 students raise their hand for correctness, the one that is closer to royalty will stay closer to royalty than the other. The only way to “jump” over another is the get the problem right while they get it wrong.

(The king or queen can get a problem wrong and stay in their position as long as no one else in the row gets it right.)

This continues for whatever amount of time you allot.


Attack works as a review game with whatever questions you’d like. Here’s a free PDF download, directions for the game.


Similar to Attack (Wilkins, K. 2013). The blog that has Grudgeball has a lot of other resources for middle school social studies.

Snowball (or paper airplane) Review

Have each student write a review question on a piece of paper. Divide class in half. Have students either crumple up the paper (snowball) or make it into a paper airplane and toss it across the room to the other side. Each student retrieves a paper and must answer the review question on the paper in turn. Points for correct answers. You can give the other team a turn to answer if the first team answers incorrectly.


Divide the class into two teams. Give a student on Team B a stuffed animal or soft ball. Give a vocabulary word or a question to Team A. Everyone that knows the answer on team A or bluffs that they know the answer stands up. Count the number of students standing and write it on the board as the score for Team A. The student with the stuffed animal/ball throws it to someone standing. If that student knows the answer then that team earns the number of points that written on the board as a score. If that student was bluffing and doesn’t get the answer correct, subtract all the points from the score. Then pitch a word or question to Team B and start the process again. (Evans, 2007)

The No Name Review Game

(I’m sure it had a name at one point…) Divide students in groups as for ATTACK. Groups of 4 or 5 work well. Have them get out a piece of paper and a pencil. Ask a review questions. One student  writes the answer on the paper–with input from the group.  As the writer finishes he/she raises the paper in the air. That is the teachers signal to check the paper. If the answer is right I have the student put a point in a small points area on the same sheet. If you’re doing an question with calculations you may have to use a separate sheet for tallying the score. For the next question the paper is passed to the left and a new writer answers the next question. Students never cared if there was a tie, I just awarded points to each team.

Other resources

This page has a great list of review games that are pretty well explained.

This week’s comments:

Hi Theresa,
I think using games is a great place to start. Even if one doesn’t end up gamifying one’s class, I’ve found using games a great motivator. For my reflection this week I posted a bunch of games I’ve used and some from my friend Alexis, who uses games extensively in her high school algebra class.

I love finding ideas on Pinterest, too.

Hi Gerald,
Maybe games are the place to start rather than gamification. If you had some success there you might want to investigate other options. I checked with my friend who uses games in her high school algebra class and she had a couple of suggestions which I posted on my reflection this week. There are two games for math there. I’d love to hear if you give them a try. I also like Pinterest and YouTube for game ideas–it doesn’t even feel like research :-). Sometimes it’s easier to see how a game works than to read about it.

Hi Kate,
It sounds like you are consciously engaging your students. I’m going to research some of the games you mentioned for the STEM Halloween activities for some challenges on my upcoming gamified walks with my kids. You mention how hard it was to let go and let the students “goof off” when they were coding. I can relate. I consciously remind myself that students don’t have to take my preconceived path to a learning outcome.


Evans, R. 2007 24, May. Comment on Quick and Easy Review Games. A to Z Teacher Stuff. Retrieved 2016 5 November from: http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/index.php?threads/quick-and-easy-review-games.36190/

Wilkins, K. 2013 20 February. Grudgeball review game where kids attack. To Engage Them All. Retrieved 2016 5 November from http://toengagethemall.blogspot.com/2013/02/grudgeball-review-game-where-kids-attack.html


Infusing Play

How do you currently infuse play into your class? How might you change this as a result of some of the ideas you have encountered?

I have used games when teaching as long as I’ve been teaching: Jeopardy, Pictionary, Bingo, Hangman other games (without names) for review. I think there is a lot to be said for teacher enthusiasm, too. What I love about what I teach (languages and computers) is the puzzle of it all: using clues to figure out the bigger picture. This is something I enthusiastically try to pass on to my students.  I want my students to know I love what I do and I think that translates into helping them love (or at least not hate) being in my classroom.

Currently, teaching online classes makes using games trickier. I’ve played Jeopardy a few times and used some team building games. Online teaching does present an opportunity to do some things that might be more difficult in a face-to-face class. For example, the structure of my online classes could make it easier to manage students choosing to work on different tasks (or units) at different times.

This week I’ve turned to reading books about gamification in the commercial world. In education we have much less time and money for development than companies who are excited about the money making side of gamification. As an example, Zichermann touts McDonald’s Monopoly game, as one of the most successful and longest-running gamified projects in the customer facing world”(2013, p.9) in 2011 the Monopoly game was responsible for a 5.5% increase in sales for the fast food giant. He points out that, in business anyway, the challenge isn’t to make games, but to “make games work for you”(p. 15).  This is the challenge in education, too. I’m thinking of using a Monopoly-type approach (in  online Intro to Business Applications), having students fill in their syllabus/assignment schedule which will be arranged more attractively than a simple list. Students could choose their own path to complete units on Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access, in any order they wish.

I’m also experimenting with gamification on the home front. Last Sunday I took my kids on a gamified walk. We had battles and challenges and, perhaps most importantly, a picnic lunch with food. I’m seriously considering a turkey trot over the Thanksgiving break and a Christmas hike with a treasure box hidden at the end.

The game I used in my time management lesson went well, but I needed more time to fully develop the connections with real life. A 30 minute lesson is so short. It would be great to talk about time management a little bit each day over several days and culminate with the game.

My quote for this week is that gamification is like the icing on the cake. If the cake tastes bad, frosting won’t help (Zichermann, 2013 p. 23).


Zichermann, G. & Linder, J. (2013). The gamification revolution: how leaders leverage game mechanics to crush the competition. New York, NY, McGraw-Hill.