Thursday, April 25, 2013

Galaxy Fleet Gamification Day 1 recap

Well I survived the first day of my classroom gamification experiment. This may have been the most important day of the lesson, the day I had to sell the students on the idea. Here are a couple of observations from that first day that I think I should share.

  1. I did not bring out the coat to turn myself into the hard ass admiral as I planned. I ran the class as myself, but as we got into the game I did joke about how I was thinking of using the character. They thought the yelling and the southern accent was pretty funny. I will pull him out when the class needs some motivation (in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way)
  2. Overall they seemed to think of this as a pretty good idea. It is hard to get a read on every student in the room, but most expressed willingness to try it. 
  3. I heard comments from some of the best students in class that they were going to be the first one to the level of Captain. For the top end student, it took me literally four minutes to tap into their competitive nature. Lets see if it will hold for the entire unit.
  4. The mid-level students seemed to like the idea in general (most are "gamers" and the idea of gamification seemed natural to them). I think they are a bit hesitant about the amount of work that I am going to ask them to do, and the testing involved, but hopefully they will fall in line as we go. 
  5. I have a group of lower-level students that concern me the most. There are two sects here. There is a group of four that sit in the back, do little work, and thus do poorly on exams. I know for a fact that these are smart kids, who have the ability to learn this. However, they are disenfranchised with high school in general and thus are the hardest to motivate. I have been working with one of these individuals a bit lately, talking to him about being a leader of his group of friends, and how he can help focus their attention. I am happy to say that out of all of the students in the class, he was the most excited about the game on that first day. I think he wants to do well, but for some reason that is not "cool" with his friends. This is giving him an avenue outside the normal school-type functioning, that he can embrace. I will work on him a lot through this experiment. 
  6. The other sect that worries me are the students who feel that they are not smart enough to do the astronomy. They feel that their background, especially in math, is hindering their learning. It is my hope that both of these groups of low-level students can feel some successes in the lesson as they go and that that success will carry them to learn the material. 
  7. I will say that the game is also fun for me. Having created a "Star Trek-like" game, I made myself the commander. I asked them to call me "Sir" or "Admiral". That is fun in itself. They stand at attention when I enter the room, which really is a cool feeling. 
Yesterday we did an intro to EM radiation with the activity Lost in Space. Today we will be exploring the EM Spectrum and beginning an activity on the Inverse Square Law. 

I will let you know how it goes.