I am still struggling to find ways to gamify my high school math class. Part of the reason is my inability to fully embrace gamification. I know that it has the potential for engaging students, and benefiting learning, but I am not a very creative person to begin with. With that in mind, I searched the Internet for other teachers that have tried to gamify their math class and found some interesting tips and ideas.
Alex Sarlin and David Dockterman presented at the 2013 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference about The Gamification of Math. They shared four tips on how a math class environment should look like.
- Use faster, more detailed feedback.
- Create progressively difficult situations with a 50% chance of success.
- Be objective and meritocratic – praise effort and mastery.
- Destigmatize failure by creating activities that demand multiple failure cycles.
I think using game mechanics would create the type of environment that they shared. They also described some badges that can be given in a gamified math classroom.
I think I could use these ideas along with some others that would help gamify my classroom. I acquired a class set of clickers that I will begin to use when I become familiar with their use and implement using them during lessons, assessments, and activities. Having clickers would help with providing immediate feedback, providing situations with a 50% chance of being correct, being objective and meritocratic, and allow students to try and not be afraid to fail. Derek Bruff of Vanderbilt University wrote a great article about how, why, and when to use clickers in class. (2016). I think using clickers would provide a gamified element in my math class.
At this time, if I had to describe how I infuse play into my class, I would have to say rarely, to not at all. The only element of game play I have is giving students a choice to do at least any 10 problems in a math section from our textbook! Not much, but I think it gives some students a sense of ownership and personal challenge to do any problem available to them. Some choose easy problems, some choose the most difficult ones in that particular section, and most will choose a variety of easy and difficult problems. I used to assign particular problems, but have abandoned that routine in my teaching the last 3 years, in favor of this new routine, and I think it has improved the attitudes of my students about math. There’s no excuse now that they are doing the same problem over and over because I assigned 12-50 all. My rationale is that if a student “knows” how to solve a particular type of problem, they don’t need to solve 20 more similar problems just because it was assigned.
Bruff, Derek. (2016). Classroom Response Systems (“Clickers”). Center for Teaching – Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/clickers/
Matera, Michael. Explore Like a Pirate: Engage, Enrich, and Elevate Your Learners with Gamification and Game-inspired Course Design, Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. Kindle Edition.
Sarlin, Alex; Dockterman, David. (2013) The Gamification of Math: Research, Gaming Theory, and Math Instruction. NCTM 2013 Annual Meeting and Exposition Presentation. Retrieved from https://nctm.confex.com/nctm/2013AM/webprogram/Handout/Session15597/NCTMGamificationofMath.pdf