LearnBop Community Blog

Engage Students Through Gamification

Posted by Travis Phelps

May 14, 2015 12:17:00 PM

Getting Students Motivated

As educators, we have to do a gazillion things. We have to unpack standards, meet learning objectives, design curricula, and analyze data.

All of these are good and noble goals, and if we reach them, we are doing a great job as teachers. However, if the students are not interested or motivated, the entire house of cards falls apart.

Motivating students—especially teenagers—can be a difficult task. What seems exciting and relevant to us does not always translate to our students. How can we succeed in making our students interested in the material we’re teaching?

Learning Through Play - Gamificiation

One way is gamification.

Okay, great. But what exactly is gamification?

Gamification is the idea that as students perform necessary behaviors or complete learning tasks, they earn experience points (XP), and inappropriate behaviors can lead to them losing health points (HP). Gamification platforms like Class Dojo and Classcraft then keep track of these point totals, so teachers and students are fully aware of where they stand at any given moment.

Tracking and Rewarding Through Points

ClassDojo-IconAs students earn more and more XP, teachers can reward students in a variety of ways. Some teachers have created badges using Edmodo to reward students who achieve a certain level of mastery through the number of points earned in Class Dojo. Other teachers offer class rewards for gathering specific numbers of points.


classcraftWith Classcraft, students are also able to “level up.” Classcraft offers—in addition to XP and HP—a third category called action points (AP). Students can use AP to purchase real items or activities from the classroom. If students reach a certain level, they can purchase certain items from the class, like eating food on a certain day or asking the teacher to make a baked good. Classcraft also offers an enticing “event of the day,” where a random thing happens to the class. These can be simple (every student earns 10XP), or comic (a random student has to sing a song before the class).

Generating Classroom Buy-In

The overall effect of gamification is a class buy-in to the game. It can be challenging to get 8th graders excited, but my students always look forward to the “event of the day.” It can be difficult to get them talking in literature circles, but when I start awarding XP and taking away HP, conversations come to life. To be sure, gamification with poor pedagogy will still be bad teaching. But adding gamification to an engaging lesson will further engage students and get them involved in the learning process.

And once they’re engaged, the real magic of the classroom comes alive!



About Travis: Travis Phelps is the Assistant Principal and 8th Grade Teacher at St. Justin School, where he has worked since 2008. He is a Google Education Trainer, Classcraft Ambassador, and Adjunct Faculty at Santa Clara University's Academy of Blended Learning. When he is not trying to change the world of education, he is spending time with his beautiful wife and two charismatic children.

Topics: Differentiating Instruction, Inspiration

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