Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gamification Day 2

Image courtesy of mconnors

Upon the advice of Alex Moseley, I thought about my "subjects, topics and learning objectives in game terms, rather than simply applying a layer on top". For today's Numeracy lesson I built up a strong narrative around the learning objective. I created a fictitious character, The Dangerous Spy, who was making his escape using his clever understanding of time. I broke the gamelearning into 3 stages, each having to be solved and demonstrated before moving onto the next stage and finally capturing the spy. And there was going to be a lesson observation by my Head Teacher too :-)
Stage 1
Children had to demonstrate they could read the time using o clock, quarter past, half past and quarter to. This was used as my review lesson to gauge understanding of basic time concepts. For the class it was their first chase after the missing spy. With every moment that passed the spy would be getting further away so the discussions around the room centred immediately on who was able to complete the first mission accurately. These children then used their expertise to teach others and demonstrate how to read the analogue clocks. All but 3 children completed this stage and they insisted on 'replaying the level' with me on the carpet.
Stage 2
Children now had to demonstrate they could read time to 5 minutes and had the option of writing their answers in digital format. I used digital format as an extra skill point and to my surprise, every learner tried to achieve it. This was all done with no IWB or whiteboard demonstration from me. Children who could do this appointed themselves group experts and advised their team players how to do it. My role became one of facilitating learners who found the stage difficult and I returned to my 'traditional' teaching role at these times. Four children found this stage challenging but enjoyed it as they wanted to catch the spy.
Stage 3
No one managed to get to this stage today and it has been left until tomorrow which left a dew children on the edge of their seats as they desperately wanted to complete the stage and catch the spy. The stage involved the use of real life skills - children would have to use the national rail website to find a train that would leave Leicester and arrive in London before 2pm on Saturday 26th November. Only by providing the times of departure, arrival and the journey length would the players be able to have completed the stage and face the final End of Level Boss - a question to test their overall understanding of reading from a timetable.
Points to note
I found a couple of children who found this work difficult and they had sat back in their groups to let the rest get on with the problem solving. Gamifying lessons or a series of lessons is a fantastic approach to enlivening lesson content and learning but I need to ensure that every child has access to the learning and does not feel left behind. Telling the time is a difficult concept and many children require many lessons to succeed, I have explained to my class that they can return to this stage of the game at any point in the week or coming weeks. The content, as it is, can be reused and 'played' again.

Positives to consider
Continued cooperation throughout the gameplay learning stages.
Discussions between learners demonstrated high levels of understanding and use of language to instruct others.
Learners were open to learn from others and not just me.
Learners felt more comfortable expressing their desire to replay the stage when their learning wasn't complete.

Final note
I am finding more and more that using this approach in class can not only benefit the learners but the teacher and your assistant (if you have one). My head teacher said the lesson was Good with outstanding points noting the 'creative problem solving' techniques the children used during the lesson and was impressed with their desire to learn. I am enjoying gamifying my lesson content more and more and I am now devising a block of learning that will involve a strong narrative, characters, sets, scenes - just like a game.