A major learning goal for me this past year has been to expand upon the gamification strategies that I have begun to implement into my personal practice. This is also in line with my Capstone Project, and very much in line with this course (7485). Before this year, I implemented a few game-based learning activities, and even occasionally used Minecraft Education (which my Capstone is based on); however, I only attempted monthly build challenges. At one point, I used it as a reward, but had mixed results with this, so I eventually stopped using that approach. I have begun integrating Minecraft Education units to teach my sixth-grade computer science standards. The idea is to use Minecraft to engage the students and improve SEL, while also increasing interest in STEM.
ISTE Standards 1.1c, 1.3d, 1.4a, 1.4d, 1.5d, 1.6c, 1.7a, 1.7b, 1.7c, 1.7d are all addressed with this goal. Students work independently and collaboratively to investigate and examine real-world and global issues. They are taught about and encouraged to use a design process to iterate and re-iterate through solutions, making improvements along the way. In Minecraft, the generate models within an authentic game world that many are already familiar with.
As an educator, I highly value student engagement. Students who are not engaged are not truly learning. Young people today are digital learners and trying to fight against that usually does not end well. I am not necessarily saying that they are high-level technology end users, because they often are not. But they are digital consumers. It is natural to them. Many of my middle school students have never not been exposed to screens and digital learning environments, so responding with gamification strategies is a no-brainer for me. I am also in a subject area that successfully supports this strategy.
As an educator, I will continue to expand upon the game-based learning strategies that I have in place. For my Capstone, I focused on the Computing with Minecraft unit that I implemented this year. This follows GA PSC Standard 6.3, which asks candidates to synthesize and apply what they learn to field experiences. I will continue to gain insight as I gain experience and have more data to analyze. There are so many levels to working with Minecraft. But Minecraft is not the end all. I have integrated digitalcompass.org and Common Sense Media lessons, and use Kahoot, Quizziz, and other tools that have a strong gamification aspects. It is exciting to see so many sources and organizations and their improvements. I see gamification growing stronger and I will continue to do my due diligence to learn and grow upon this foundation that I have been building recently. It is important, however, to be prepared before you implement these tools and resources. I have tried to implement them too soon in the past, and it takes away from the success you can. Take the time to run through the lessons yourself and create artifacts along the way to help demonstrate concepts. This provides the scaffolding that many students will need to successfully complete the activities.