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The Magical Leaderboard

As many of you know, this is my first experience with gamifying my classroom, and there is certainly a lot for me to learn! As a teacher, my focus is on the content/curriculum, and game design comes second. My first app (STAAR Wars) is far from polished and I'm building as I go, but being pressed for time (hey, I'm in grad school) and needing to get my students started, I had to just throw it out there for them.

I cannot stress enough how new this journey is for me, how much I am learning, and how much I still have to learn.

Today, I want to talk about the leaderboard. For you non-gaming folks, this is basically just the scoreboard that lets you know how you score against the other teams. I knew I was going to add this element, but again I was focused on getting the content out there. Also, I was struggling with the how of building the leaderboard.

My students, though, live in a game world, and they were not allowing me to skip this fundamental gaming principle. I threw something simple together using Google Docs, so that they would at least have something. Here is what it looks like.

Because it is web-based, I only used the student's initials (which I changed for this post). I inserted a formula so that it automatically adds the points for each team. I keep this leaderboard up on the overhead throughout the class, adding points as each student scores.

Some amazing things have happened since posting this leaderboard:

1. The student's level of motivation has increased even MORE! Holy engagement, Batman!

2. The students are deciding for themselves to complete missions (aka assignments/activities). They do not like to lose!

3. Students are TRULY working together (naturally), because they recognize the importance of each member's contributions.

4. I was concerned about embarrassment (I am the ultimate soft-heart and would never want a student to feel embarrassed).....but the most AMAZING thing happened...the students use this leaderboard to see who needs help. The struggling students want the help, because they want to score points.

5. I am hearing the students say to each other, "Here, let me show you. You have to understand it, or you won't be able to do this in the big battle."

6. Students are eager to try the hard problems, because they want the points. Previously, I'd hear, "I can still pass if I don't do this one."

7. Students are rushing to class to get a head start! What?!?!

8. Two students emailed me from home, asking for the website, so they could work ahead. Ummm....yes, please!

I am truly floored at how motivating and positive this leaderboard is. What a simple thing!


Gamification One of the newest buzzwords of education is GAMIFICATION. Put shortly, gamification means using game principles to engage and motivate students. Gamification is NOT putting a student in front of a computer all day, every day.

Gamification Mistake #1: Fair Play I titled this post Mistake #1, because I am certain that I will make many more mistakes while gamifying my class.One thing I've been learning about is the aspect of "Fair Play," which basically just means making sure the game is fair for the players.

So You Want to Gamify? Based on the popularity and interest of my last blog, Gamification, I decided to create a list of resources, for those brave enough to embark on this journey.

How Not to Use Technology in the Classroom Technology should be used to engage and enhance, not to distract and ignore.