classcraft1If 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?

screenshot-classcraft-2This 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.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.38.30 AMIf 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:

Why Classcraft?

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.43.10 AMThere 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.

Some Thoughts

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.45.04 AMThat 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.

Getting Started

Here are some resources to get you going:

Suggested Uses

  • 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.

Additional Resources

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.

Your Challenge

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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  1. Classcraft is by far the most unique class management system I have ever reviewed.I’m going to echo a lot of the previous posters and admit not being a big gamer. Watching the video gave me the impression that there are several moving parts to this management system which if not carefully regulated could take over a class. I think that Middle-School and possibly freshmen students and small pockets of upperclassman might go for it but I fear it might alienate many of the other students. The review of the site at the top stated that the success of failure of Classcraft is largely on how well the teacher is able to implement the program and to make it fun. I like the idea but I’m not sure without some help from someone more familiar with the role playing world that I would be able to pull it off.

  2. I certainly understand and relate to Heather Coy’s comment. I do not “game” in any fashion unless you count Sodoku on my phone while waiting for appointments. I can see classes liking it but it would have to be the right mix with the right introduction to it (which I could not do). My nephew is a freshmen and all he wants to do is game so if one of his teachers tried this he would be super engaged while his sister (an 8th grader) would have rolled her eyes and said why to it. All teachers have to find something that works for them for classroom management. This is my 16th year and I have not found that perfect anything yet and change what I do depending on the needs of my course, students, and school policy that year.

  3. This could certainly engage the older students! The idea of rewarding students for assisting other students learn skills is very intriguing. As with Class Dojo, I struggle how to use for my student workers but I wonder if there is an effective way to use during just one class period to mix things up with a class, I will need to investigate it beyond this cursory look but find it definitely peaks my interest.

  4. Most of our teachers use Class Dojo. Our 6th grade teachers have been asking for something similar to that and I think this would fit the bill. The students enjoy working in teams and this would help encourage better team work. Many of the students also discuss playing Minecraft and from what I can see this also hits a note with that as well. Thanks for sharing a resource for the older students.

  5. I can see the older students really loving this program! It will definitely take a while to get it set up how you want to use it. I also like the idea of teams, that way you can encourage other students to help keep your team on task. This is a tool that I will definitely introduce to our upper grade teachers

  6. My Business Law class spends a lot of time preparing for mock trials. They are student led so the success of the trial really depends on how well they can work together and manage their time. I think this would be a neat tool to use during their trials prep periods. High school students are very competitive. I can see them going out of their way to win or receive virtual rewards.

  7. I can certainly see the appeal of Class Craft to middle and high school students. Not a RPG player myself, the learning curve would be substantial to me. My hesitation is that the “game” would overtake the class overshadowing the content. And while my students are competitive as a group and would probably enjoy begin part of the game, they may wonder why we are using a classroom behavior model.

  8. I use groups in my classroom and I noticed that one student was falling behind with his organizational skills. Other students around him started to help him out before class to make sure that he was getting his homework done. Class craft would reward these students that were taking care of this one student. This seems to be more teen aged than classdojo. I have a lot of kids who are gamers that would buy in to this.

  9. This really has some potential for a middle school class like mine. I overhear and see kids playing Minecraft all the time which this is a step up from Dojo. I agree that there looks like a lot of moving parts that will take some time to fully understand to best describe and show students how this works but gamifying classrooms really gets students involved and awaken their competitive edge that they all have but twisting it to be in a constructive way.

    • I would definitely have been the kid who would have bought into the competitive side. At the same time, I would need the rules of the game to seem relevant to my learning experience (and I would need to care about the learning). I think this could enhance any classroom (properly implemented for the right audience), BUT I think it would work best in classes that were already engaging to students. Otherwise, it would just be all icing and no cupcake.

  10. I know the article said that Classcraft would be targeted more towards older students, but I went ahead and made an account. I agree that Class Dojo is better suited for my first graders, but Classcraft seems like it would be a lot of fun for older students. I liked that you seem to be able to do a lot with the free version and that it engages students on their devices (phone, iPad, computer, etc.). It was also impressive to me that the teacher can adjust the rules and tailor the game specifically for their classroom. I did notice that under the “Freemium” package that students can make in app purchases. I’m not sure that is appropriate for a classroom environment.

    • I had the same hesitation about the in-app purchases. I would feel the need to make it abundantly clear that only purchases with coins earned through the game would be acceptable. No credit card purchases! Otherwise it would raise questions of equity, privacy, etc.

  11. I think this classroom management could work well with my classes. I think there would be a bit of learning curve with this versus Class Dojo. I would also like to see an Android app (both of my devices are Android). I used Class Dojo for a semester last year and it worked well, but I am thinking I might give this a shot with at least one class. I have been interested in gamification for a while, this could be a good starting point. I like the ability to add students to teams and add the competition factor to classroom management as well. I will need to do some major playing with this to figure it out though.

  12. This tool will certainly appeal to the older students. How exciting to see the creative options for our 21st century learners!

    • I would definitely see this tool as motivation for older students male or female. It looks engaging, and I could see students being competitive yet in a positive way. It seems it could also be differentiated so rewarding would work for all students.

  13. I think the idea behind Classcraft is very interesting. I know a lot of my 5th graders would drool at the chance of using this program in class. I’m going to try to find the time over the holiday break to learn this tool because I know it would be appealing to them and I have had an extremely challenging group this year. Plus since our 5th grade is departmentalized, I could use this as a way to let the different groups collaborate and challenge one another instead of simply using it as a homeroom system of classroom management. I think the best thing about it is the collaboration among students. I feel like this would really facilitate ownership in their behavior and a more close knit classroom community.

  14. I couldn’t agree more with the comments posted above! My favorite part of this CM tool is that the students work together. It isn’t always all about the one or two kids that are over-achievers – it reflects on the team as a whole. Especially in this point in educational history in which the focus is on communication and collaboration, mixed with accountability, this seems like a great tool to use. I might just create a class composed on my teachers and use this as a way for them to “play” with the tool, and reward them for certain desired behaviors – on teams. Love it.

  15. Classroom management is essential to excellent teaching. I know older students spend a lot of time on games such as Minecraft and Warcraft. I am excited that there is a tool that will be more interesting to older students. Shile Dojo has great features, as students get older they tend to be less impressed with that tool. Also, if it has been used for several years, it is also less effective. Classcraft should be very appealing for students. I can even see it being applicable to students as far down as grade 4, or possibly lower. Thanks for sharing this idea for management.

  16. This classroom management model would work very well with some of my classes. I have one freshman class that spends a lot of time talking about Minecraft and other RPGs. They would get behind Classcraft and benefit from it. I don’t think it would motivate my other two freshman classes as much, but I could pilot Classcraft with the one class and see how it goes. Before that happens, I’d have to spend quite a bit of time figuring out how to run the game. I think the idea behind Classcraft is quite appealing. I wonder if they might eventually allow students or teachers to customize the game more, since not every student enjoys RPGs like Warcraft or Minecraft.

    • I think you are right to clue into this tools usefulness based on class dynamic. I’ve had some classes that would eat this up, but others who would just roll their eyes no matter how cool I think it is. If the sales pitch took too much work, I’m not sure it would be worth it. I suspect, though, that if one class started and enjoyed it, other classes would ask, “Why aren’t we doing that?”

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