Blogs are great for reflection so with any ado whatsoever…  My reflections on the Fall17 semester of my game inspired classroom.

  1. The Flipped Class Approach. The Good part is that about 80% of my students are consistently completing the notes on time in an appropriate fashion. This is way up for last year. I attribute a lot of the improvement to maintain,g the narratove and, the next point, Late Hearts.  The bad news is that other 20% are consistently the same students. I need to work,with them to understand why they are having troubles completing the Flips. I also want to develop a pre-test or optional assement for the major content from a set of notes that might get a student out of taking the note. I’m not sure what that looks,like yet, but I am contemplating some sort of enemy battle. Not a full blown Boss Fight but a mini battle testing the content. Maybe as a guild fight to encourage some social cooperation.
  2. The Late Heart System – When I worked in retail during college they told all of us over zealous young stock clerks to never, ever chase a person out of the door if the ran when the shoplifting buzzerat the exit went off. If the person stopped assist them however if they ran it was not worth the risk to stop them. The security system was there to keep honest people honest. The Hearts system has played a similar role. Students have told me that they stayed up late to finish a part of an assignment or have emailed me before a due date simply because they didnt want to lose a heart. The heart recovery form is a positive. I have tied it to vocabulary but the actual activity needs to be refurbished and maybe offer some alternatives.
  3. The Ranking System – this has quickly become one of my favorite mechanics. Next year (jeez, I’m already talking next year!) I am going to reduce the number of rankings by 2-4 levels. As currently constructed some student are so focused on ranking that they are forgetting some other elements of the class. Overall though about 3/4s of Students have voluntarily ranked up at least 1 level which involves a quiz and performance task. Some of my higher ranks are the top students according to grade, but many are not.
  4. Powercards – I could make powercards all day. makes them look awesome and the students that take advantage of the cards are deeply emgaged. One downside is that even after a full semester some students have chosen not to take full advantage of these cards. I am not certain why this but I have built the course so that powercards are not necessary to be successful.
  5. Boss Battles! – I have called my common assessments (tests) Boss Fights but that is really a misuse of the vocabulary. Its like when an “expert” gives a PD and says “your already doing this.” Changing the name of the test won’t change how students respond to the test. I am really excited about the possibilities of Boss Battles (and my Dreadsheets Boss Battle Spreadsheets) to really change my thinking on testing. At the moment I have used boss fights as a review game and the students are engaged. The way I’ve structured the keeps more students answering each question than most jeopardy style games. The last time we played we got through 50 questions and discussion of answers in a 90 minite block. It is a nice formative assessment.

    Things I am Considering

    1. Improved Building System – this semester I attempted voluntary guilds. After either achieving the first rank up or the first test students earned a guild chip which allowed them to form permanent guilds with various privileges. This effort was by and large a dud. I had one guild form in 3 out of 5 classes. Not the turn of I hoped for. I’m not sure what next semesters system will look like yet, but I am envisioning 3 trimester with rotating guild membership. Each guild would be together for 2 units and would fight the mini enemies together and be the groups in the big boss fights. Maybe each member in the group could have a unique group based power (healer, mechanic, warrior, mage, etc…). Since I am making the guilds I can have mixed groupings and award gold or a status plaque for “guild with most notes completed” or “wealthiest guild”. I am also thinking of shifting the seating in the room to accommodate this. The guilds would work well for the next point.
    2. More Depth of Knowledge/Inquiry based informed Project Based Learning – my state just released new Social Studies Standards that will likely go into effect in 2020. They heavily emphasize thematic understandings and skills application. The downside is a move away from some content requirements but it opens up way more possibilities for Project (Quest!) Based Learning. Having the premade guilds will feed into these team based quests.
    3. A Narrative Shift (option?) – I love my narrative about a dystopic future with secret police and underground historians. I worry that it might be too… Adult… For the students. I have a couple of students pitching me knew ideas for themes for next year. The leader so far is one about a time traveling immortal with an ability to erase generational memory and history who recruits power hungry historic figures from each era and gives them special powers in order to defeat a group of student historians that got caught up in a vortex. I’m thinking something like Benedict Arnold is given an mid control device to complete his traitorous turn. Each student will have recieved a superpower as they were taken through the vortex. Still in the works… 
    4. Mini-bosses – I am intrigued by the possibility of creating smaller scaled boss fights instead of giving quizzes. My raw plan is to create guilds next semester and, as a reading check or pre-test, have the guild “battle” the enemy. I’m thinking each guild member will be able to choose a special ability to help with the battle or influence the rewards. Powercards can be used as will. Most importantly though is that this will be a formative assessment that could direct students in their learning. 

      So these are my initial thoughts on specific mechanics from the first semester. As always the level of choice, the XP grading, the lessons designed around player type motives are still the core of the “gameplay” and still very engaging. I’m looking forward to semester 2 and would love any thoughts or suggestions!