If you are a fan of Class Dojo, but you teach a more mature set of students, you might want to check out Classcraft, a great new way to turn classroom management into an online game with a feel that is similar to online role-playing games like World of Warcraft.
To be clear, there are a lot of moving parts to this interface, and it took me an afternoon to really get my brain around how it all works, BUT the interface and workflow are easy to learn, and many of the features are really cool. I could definitely see kids buying into this experience. And I think that the teacher who is willing to try this out would find that it is an engaging and easy way to encourage positive behaviors.
What is Classcraft?
This is where it is hard to paint a brief picture that makes sense. Basically, teachers create classes of students and teams of students within each class. Students work in their collaborative teams to help one another gain experience points for positive behaviors (e.g. coming to class prepared) and avoid losing health points for negative behaviors (e.g. interrupting the learning process). Teachers are the Game Masters who have the power to award experience points or remove health points.
Each student contributes to his or her team as a Mage, a Healer, or a Warrior. The type of character that they choose determines the talents that they bring to their team. Student also have a supply of action points that allow them to access special powers based on their avatars’ character type.
If a student looses all of his or her health points in a given period, they “fall in battle” which means that they get sentenced to a random penalty that the teacher can define. In some cases, teammates can help prevent a team member from falling in battle. Teachers can also randomly generate game events that have effects that can be either negative or positive.
The game lasts the entire time that a class meets (semester, year), and it begins with players signing the Hero Pact which states that the players agree to abide by the decisions made by the Game Master (teacher), including any rule changes that the Game Master might enact along the way.
There are 3 versions of the game. each with different options. The free version allows for basic game play. The freemium option includes more options for customizing, an iOS app, and the ability for players to earn gold coins that they can use to customize their avatars and earn experience points. The premium edition costs about $40 per class (for the whole year), and includes the ability for the teacher to award coins to players.
Here are a few videos that can help paint a more complete picture of the interface, but I strongly recommend that you sign up for a free account and explore the interface if you are interested in this as a possibility for your class as well:
There are several reasons why I like Classcraft. First, it encourages students to think and act collaboratively. Since they work in teams and their fates are attached to those of their teammates, they have incentive to make good choices for themselves and to help others as well. Second, I like that teachers can customize the game to fit their classroom needs, curriculum, and expectations. Third, I like that it has comes with lots of support for implementation and a community of users. Fourth, I like that there are multiple options from free to premium, but that all of the options are robust enough to be useful. Finally, I like that it has the potential to add an element of fun and excitement without taking too much time away from the curriculum.
That said, I vetted the concept of Classcraft with my kids (ages 14 and 17), and I found their feedback useful. They said they could imagine this being very successful or a flop depending on the class and the teacher. According to them, a successful Classcraft experience would require a teacher who could make it fun and do a good job of selling the idea from the start. The teacher would also need to keep the game interesting over the long term, introducing new twists along the way. On the other side of the coin, it would take a class of students who are willing to buy in and who wouldn’t ruin the game by either refusing to play or by actively sabotaging the experience. Most importantly, they suggested that the teacher and students would need to already have or quickly develop a level of trust before launching into this process.
Here are some resources to get you going:
- Classcraft Vimeo Channel
- Classcraft on Fast Company
- Classcraft on Getting Smart
- Classcraft For The Win
- Reward positive behavior.
- Add consequences to negative behavior.
- Encourage teamwork.
- Turn your class into an epic quest.
- Create positive competition.
Why it Matters (Teaching Rubric)
Setting high expectations for students, monitoring their growth and challenging them to aim higher is extremely important (Competency 3.1), and having a system by which to do that with consistency is valuable. Also, our ability to apply multiple strategies that reward expected behavior and/or discourage negative behavior with fairness and consistency (Competency 3.2) makes it possible for us to create a functional and engaging learning environment.
There are a lot of great classroom management tools that exist. Some of our favorites include Classcharts, ClassDojo, Class Badges – (Website discontinued August 2018), and Credly. Also, learning management systems like My Big Campus and Edmodo include the ability to assign badges for accomplishments.
Today’s challenge is to look at the options in a behavior management tool like Classcraft and reflect on how you could use this resource to engage students and support learning. Share those reflections in the comments below and if you have another great tool for behavior or classroom management please feel free to add it to your comments as well. Commenting on others responses is a great way to share ideas and make educational connections, just remember that “active participation” is more than just an “attaboy” for someone else. Enjoy!
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