How many times have we teachers had to “police” our students and take cell phones or iPods? Why not harness that technology to engage learners instead? Let that sink in for a moment.
I’m the weird teacher who assigns online homework using a variety of sites. We use SenorWooly, Socrative, Zooburst, ClassDojo and Prezi. I recently discovered ClassCraft, and it has been a fun week. ClassCraft is designed to be used quickly in class. The teacher can assign points for correct answers or deduct points for misbehavior. There’s a section for adding questions, and students claim points for answering. The graphics are awesome, by the way.
The first step, of course, is to sign up. I saw an option to change the game to Spanish instead of English, but there are other language options. I noticed there is an app for iPhones and iPads, so students can even play on the go. I divided students into teams and gave them an identity: mage, healer or warrior. Players start with a predetermined number of points based on the role they play. They can change the clothes of the avatar, and some can even get a pet. When students earn 1000 points, they can level up and unlock rewards. Rewards are preset, but the teacher can also customize things to fit the class. A few preset rewards include the power of “invisibility” (two minutes out of class, maybe a bathroom break or a trip to the locker), using notes on a test (!) or a “free” question concerning the correctness of an answer on a test.
When my (homeschooled teen) daughter saw what I was doing, she demanded to have an avatar to play, too. I made her account like I did the other ones. Instead of having students sign up individually, I created user names and passwords that we could all remember easily. Trust me—it simplifies life!
Once I introduced the activity to my Spanish 2 students, they were eager to play. I gave them a day of two to learn how it would work. I directed them to the assignment section, and they were on task! I was generous with points for good behavior. A few students completed all the assignments quickly, we discussed errors (so they won’t be repeated in future work), and we all had a good time. Several students even asked me to post more assignments! Has that ever happened in your class? My reaction was to add work before they changed their minds!
Since students are grouped into teams, if one student misbehaves and loses points, a healer can decide to help lessen the damage. If the team members think the teammate deserves the penalty, the offending student takes the damage. One student told another, “The teacher did warn you to stop it, so take the damage!”
There is an option to challenge individuals or teams. The teacher can spin the wheel of fortune and a random person or team shows up. I picked fairly easy questions to encourage participation. I also used my large screen projector to show students exactly what was happening.
I was invited to join a team as a healer, so I created my own avatar. It was fun to change the clothes and learn my powers! Don’t tell the kids, but learning really is fun!