Rachel Langenhorst. Rachel's work has appeared here in the past and been quite well received. I was excited to get another guest post submission from her.
Every teacher in this day and age must be able to juggle 3 to 45 things at any given moment. There are days when I feel that my head might spontaneously combust because, quite simply... Nothing. Else. Will. Fit. Classcraft, however, has proven to be a tool with which I can most effectively lead with the least amount of disruption, in a way that is both engaging and motivating for students of all ages. Gamification is a research-based way to take the fundamental appeal of play and apply it to non-game activities such as schoolwork and classroom management. My first experience with the game came at a Google Summit session I attended this summer. At first, I was curious, although admittedly skeptical. How effective could a game really be? However, upon signup and the interactivity provided during that session, a fire was lit. I signed up for the free version and experimented with it throughout the summer. It didn’t take long to see that this was the real deal. Since then, we have been able to successfully incorporate Classcraft into our at-risk room, elementary classrooms, as well as my middle-high school technology team, with more sure to follow!
What sets Classcraft apart from other forms of gamification is the fact that it is grounded in actual classroom behavior and accomplishments. There is the ability to create teams within Classcraft, which, I have found, adds a particularly effective form of peer motivation. Teachers can and should be the creators of their own environment and should adapt the experience to fit their own classrooms. There is a preset list of items for which students can receive or lose points, but they are completely customizable. While these are touted as “classroom management” points, I have found that with a little ingenuity, I was able to tie points to anything, including other types of formative assessments I do in classrooms like Kahoot, Wizer, and Quizzizz. These points can be divvied out to individuals or teams as desired.
There are five different point types found in the game. There are HP (Health Points), XP (Experience Points), AP (Action Points), GP (Gold Pieces), and PP (Power Points). Each serves a distinct purpose that helps maintain student interactivity and success. Additionally, there is a parent connection, where you open up the ability for them to award GP to their child for good deeds done at home. Within Classcraft, students have the capability to completely customize their own avatars and select from the role of Warrior, Mage, or Healer. Each role comes with a certain set of skills that can be advantageous for their team. With a coordinating Classcraft app and a Chrome Extension, you are able to manage your class with ease. This video helps describe a typical day in Classcraft.
A Typical Day in Classcraft from Classcraft on Vimeo.
Classcraft does offer premium access to their site for a minimal cost of $12 a month, discounted to $8 per month if you pay for 12 months up front. There is also a school/district account package available. If you should decide to upgrade, all data will be carried over into your premium version. The paid account allows for additional features such as linking to Google Classroom, analytics, gamified curriculum, extra gear/pets to earn, as well as several interactive class tools like the volume meter. The school/district package adds those plus admin controls and security features.
Classcraft has a unique penchant for encouraging positive behavior and deterring negative through common sense cause and effect. Their continued goal of using gamification for good has resulted in a recently published online guide for using Classcraft to prevent bullying.
Classcraft has been a fun adventure that has the kids abuzz and showing real progress and teamwork. Give it a shot! Before you know it, you will have the power to encourage continued learning, accountability, collaboration, and ownership through gamification, leaving you to do the one thing you never seem to have enough time for….teach.
About the author:
Rachel Langenhorst is a K-12 Technology Integrationist and Instructional Coach for Rock Valley Community Schools in Rock Valley, Iowa and serves as an adjunct professor in the graduate programs of the University of Sioux Falls and Northwestern College. A 20+ year teaching veteran, she presents throughout the country, focusing on technology integration strategies and best practices. Rachel serves as a contributor for edWeb.net, Mackin Educational Resources, and Education Talk Radio. Find her on Twitter and other social media @rlangenhorst and her blog, Tech from the Trenches.