6 Easy Ways to Gamify Your Classroom
As kids today migrate from text-based digital media to image-heavy apps like Instagram and Snapchat, it becomes harder for them to pay attention to the traditional school task—let alone long lectures. Can you imagine what life would be like if students didn’t just enjoy class but looked forward to it? It’s possible with gamification!
With classrooms filled with tablets, e-books, and digital tools, everything is more interactive. If you’re looking for a little spark to keep your students’ attention in the classroom, you may be hearing to “gamify your curriculum.” But how can you incorporate gameplay in meaningful ways if nobody has shown you how?
Let’s take a look at what game methodology and tactics are and how to develop them to engage students more quickly. Read on to learn 6 easy ways to get your class really excited about learning.
What is Gamification?
Wikipedia defines gamification as “an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using game elements.” It continues that the goal is “to maximize enjoyment and engagement…that inspires them to continue learning.” Sounds great. But how?
Games, in any form, increase motivation through engagement. These days, you can argue that nowhere else is this more important than education. Gamification uses game design and mechanics in non-game contexts to increase participation, engagement, loyalty, and competition. These methods can include (but aren’t limited to) points, leaderboards, direct competitions, and stickers or badges to transform regular classroom activities.
Doing this successfully only means inserting creativity, collaboration, and play. It doesn’t have to be complicated or hard. In fact—with just a few small changes—gamifying your lessons can be just as fun for you as for your students. First, let’s look at why gamification works—especially in education.
Why Use Gamification? Engagement!
As kids today migrate from text-based digital media to image-heavy apps like Instagram and Snapchat, it becomes harder for students to pay attention to the traditional school task, let alone long lectures. In response, many teachers try to hack lessons into smaller chunks.
But switching between small lessons too quickly could rob students of valuable comprehension. The good news is that incorporating motivating gamification techniques means you don’t need to sacrifice substance to service motivation. When done well, students can feel a more profound sense of accomplishment. As a result, engagement and motivation naturally follow in close pursuit.
The best part is that the structural elements of games make them especially suited to serve this current generation of learners. Storytelling, problem-solving, rules, collaboration, competition, rewards, feedback, and learning through trial and error are all immediately familiar to digital natives—and translate seamlessly into non-game situations.
Since it’s hard to find relatable guidance on techniques and evaluation methods, we came up with six ways you can bring gameplay to your classroom. Keep reading…
Complement Your Teaching Style
Luckily, it’s easy to adjust the methods of gameplay to complement your teaching style—no matter what it is.
We’re not just talking about adding points, levels, and badges and calling it “gamification.” Instead, you’ll want to tailor game methodology to what you’re already doing. A few tweaks can reinvent the way you teach to make it engaging and relevant for this new generation of digital natives.
- Versatile Lesson Plans
Each classroom contains students with many differences and learning levels. These make them unique and interesting individuals—from the kids that breeze through to the ones that don’t, and everything in between. One thing gamification can give them in common is the desire to learn and be successful. You increase the chances that you’ll meet this desire on a daily basis by providing variety to otherwise routine tasks through gameplay.
Allotting points, creating levels, or making badges available for your students to strive for electrifies lessons without changing the goals you set. When you give your students many paths to the same goal—all within their control—you’ll soon find that their creativity starts to shine brilliantly through. Each lesson becomes fundamentally different for each learner, without having to tailor how each student progresses.
Even for students who blow through their goals, tools like Typing.com offer tons of extra content to practice that’s really engaging while pushing their skills. Incorporating customizable content into tasks where your students’ imagination is required to reach success is a wonderful way to motivate students to take control of their learning.
If you want to see how to enjoyably push all the different students in your classroom to improve, check out how Typing.com helps kids learn at their own pace.
- Nurture the Quest for Accomplishment
While there are many tools out there that are full of color and cartoon characters, these overstimulate the brain and—more importantly—make the task harder. Instead, find ways to reward learners by completing specific tasks, participating for predetermined amounts of time, or solving certain problems. Instantaneous feedback and small rewards (or big ones, like winning) encourage the development of grit to persevere and intrinsic motivation to achieve.
With Typing.com, for example, as the amount of experience a student has increases, so does their point total. Achievements like this challenge them to progress. Make things even more interesting by mixing in rewards for mastery and elements of celebration for completion.
An example is the star reward system in Typing.com. Students can earn up to three stars tied to accuracy as they complete lessons. At the end of every task, students can strive to earn all three. They’ll do it over and over again until they do! In this way, their desire to improve is driven by a sense of accomplishment after every attempt. And, once they complete a lesson, Typing.com celebrates their success with fun elements like fireworks.
- Make it Tangible
The grade book can only go so far. You’ve seen the limit of getting an “A” to sufficiently motivate some students. But, giving out tangible achievements—what is known as badges–act as public recognition for meeting a specific goal. When students can see which achievements they’ve earned, as well as those earned by classmates, you encourage eager participation.
Students who improve their mastery of material—even in small ways—are driven to achieve more. Give your class achievements to unlock as the students get closer to completing their goals. Once a goal is completed, they will have something to hold onto and remember.
In Typing.com, students can see their improvement with visual bar graphs, by counting the achievements they’ve unlocked, or with something as simple and gratifying as a printable certificate they can proudly display for themselves or others.
- Innovate on Tradition
Expanding on a traditional grading system gives students the ability to progress through levels of mastery, as one does in games. Using points or rewards as a more holistic measure of success can make each assignment and each test feel progressive, rather than disheartening for not making a certain grade. As an educator, you can align levels with skills and highlight the inherent value of education.
Let students assign their own goals and compete against others for rewards. As they gain experience points, they can level up. Use avatars that mirror their own journey. This makes wins feel personal while transferring any failure as just “part of the game.”
In Typing.com, students can take on a fun persona, earn points, and feel a more profound sense of accomplishment. A young learner can start out as a pirate with a small dinghy and end up with a pile of riches—and valuable skills—on her own island. Elements of fantasy make learning almost magical—transforming the experience.
- Introduce Teamwork
Encourage camaraderie among students by setting up a rewards system where students achieve something as a team. For example, you can set whole class improvement goals. As a reward, give the entire class bonus points. That way, students work to master material together instead of competing, and the highest-achieving students will help those around them.
In their teams, students can share points, rewards, or even level up together. Students will want to work harder to help their team and make their team members proud. This is especially true if they can share the rewards. You can encourage students to work together for mutual gain, track progress, and encourage perseverance.
See how the Typing.com scoreboard feature allows you to see your most active and most accurate students challenge themselves, or compete against classmates.
All of this can inspire healthy competition while helping you identify which students really understand material and which may be struggling. When the latter occurs, encourage students who understand certain subjects well to work with those that need an extra hand.
Want to check out a game that encourages teamwork in thousands of schools worldwide? Nitro Type lets students become captains, create teams, and share rewards through playful competition. You can even let your students earn time to play as a reward!
- Let EdTech Do the Work for You
If you don’t feel comfortable customizing your curriculum, let technology do it for you!
Today’s EdTech delivers new forms of learning architecture. Technology in the classroom is not new, but these modern tools redefine how education is consumed, applying gamification to change the way people learn.
With Chromebooks and tablets entering more and more classrooms, teachers are challenged to maximize the benefits of these tools. What easier way to engage students in required content by presenting it in a format that’s relevant and familiar for them?
Game play allows students to fail, overcome, and persevere. Most importantly, learners develop a sense of agency—in games, they control the choices they make. The more agency students have, the better students do, now and into the future.
Ready to jump in and gamify your classroom? It’ll take time, but it’ll be worth it when your students won’t be able to get enough of it.
Let Typing.com do the work for you. Click here to see how.