Boss Fighting and Other #Gamification Thoughts

The quest that is Calculus in my classroom this year has really started to turn interesting. Students have officially moved into that space where teachers can start to feel uncomfortable – they are all over the place! I have students blazing through Quest 3A others scheduling their Quest 2 Boss Fight and yet others still working through their Quest 2 Strategy Guide. Remember those days of keeping each kid in line – leave no child behind because we keep them all together?? GONE!!!

I do have a timeline for all of the kids – they need to complete Quest 5 to earn full credit for the first semester.  As the teacher of record, I have to give a semester grade and if the students are not where they should be (determined by my experience teaching calculus) by the end of the semester, they will have a penalty (you know, like when a game level has a timer and you cannot move on unless you complete the objective in time).  I have told them that I can make a semester grade change if they meet those requirements in early January.  I hope that I am not creating a lot of extra work.  I feel like some students could have a difficult time completing this objective.  But with the mastery learning component – will they be able to work a little quicker later???  I cannot wait to see how all of this turns out, it has been fun and interesting to so far.

Some observations about my class to this point:

  • Students don’t feel threatened during the Boss Fight.  Several students have had to fight the boss more than once.  I don’t have a problem with that.  It gives me and the student an opportunity to work with areas where the struggle is real.
  • I am grading all of the time – students need to know whether they can advance a quest line or not.  On the flip side of that statement – I am not grading as long.  Students hit Save Checkpoints and Boss Fights at different times, so the grading load is less.  Keeping up with it all has not be difficult.
  • Students love knowing that if they fail, they can have a redo without penalty (just like angry birds).  Its about the learning right?  As teachers we need to get over ourselves and let the students learn.  Students CANNOT ADVANCE unless they demonstrate 80% mastery of a topic.  Students also schedule their tests with me – so the whole “when can I redo this” phrase that drives teachers crazy is now more acceptable.  It is also a phrase that I have not heard very often since students are now taking ownership of their Boss Fight date.
  • This is happening inside of a flipped classroom – so on any given day of the week you might see students watching video, students working on a save checkpoint, students participating in a Boss Fight, students working in small groups, students asking me questions and me grading or checking work.  It is busy and if my days went by quickly before – they absolutely zoom by now!!

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