“Gamification” Makes English Classes Connect

For Dr. Daniel Harrold, teaching is a game. In a good way, that is. The Baldwin High School English teacher has brought “gamification” to the classroom, using aspects of gaming — achieving levels, completing tasks, gaining mastery of materials before moving on, acquiring points – to give his students more autonomy in their learning and to make English more relevant. Beginning last year, Dr. Harrold introduced gamification and the results have been great. Not only do his students cover the required English curriculum but they also learn on their own and the material is “sticking.”


What is gamification?

Gamification is applying game elements to something that isn’t a game otherwise. I had seen a number of teachers talk about gamification in theory and realized no one was doing it here. In six months, I designed this course, using gamification in my English classes.


How does it work?

Each English unit is a four-step process. I put together a video on something – say poetry – and students watch, take notes, read, turn in assignments. That’s the understanding phase. They explore the text through a number of options like peer discussions and audio recordings. The third step is synthesis, when they have a project to complete. Finally, there’s a test. The course design mirrors that of a role-playing video game, without being a game.


What is the result?

Because they have to achieve levels to move ahead, they work at their own pace. Some are faster than others, but they all learn to be autonomous. This is a skill they’ll need for college and the work place, and I’ve found that students feel they’re finally starting to do work that will stick with them.


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