Getting Your Students' Head in the Game with Kahoot

Recently, I discovered that gamification has great promise in my high school and college Spanish classes.

Gamification entails basically using elements of game design to achieve certain goals, often in the business community. Gamification, according to http://bunchball.com, must contain ten components to motivate people to succeed.

The game Kahoot incorporates these ten game mechanics. In Kahoot, users must answer multiple-choice questions projected on the Promethean or Smart Board on their own devices. I have used this game numerous times over the course of the past few months with Spanish vocabulary and grammar reviews in my high school and college level classes. One important thing to keep in mind is that in order to create good multiple-choice items, the teacher must learn to think like the students. Since Kahoot is a competition between all of the students in the class, I like to make it as challenging as possible. Often my answer choices are very similar to confuse the participants.  The game also features sound effects that are designed to make the game an exciting, perhaps even nerve-wrecking experience for the students. Let’s look at how Kahoot incorporates the ten gamification components.

  1. Fast feedback- Students get immediate feedback on their devices as they answer the questions.
  2. Transparency- Students are informed instantly of their position on the leaderboard, which is projected on the screen.
  3. Goals- The goal of course is to win the game. My prize is usually exemption from the quiz containing the vocabulary or grammar items featured in the game. My goal as a teacher is to motivate the students to master and to become excited about my content.
  4. Badges- The winner receives a trophy badge projected on the board.
  5. Leveling up within the community- Students are able to move up on the leaderboard as they play the game.
  6. Onboarding (learn the game as you play)- Students learn to play as they begin the game. They go on http://kahoot.it, enter the code that is projected on the screen, type in their name, and begin playing. There are no lengthy explanations.
  7. Competition- All of the students in the class play against each other.
  8. Collaboration- Students help each other to get ahead when they notice classmates falling behind.
  9. Community- The game gives recognition to the winners in the community, pointing to their achievement within the group. The smile it puts on the winner’s face is priceless.
  10. Points- The winner is the one who earns the highest amount of points, based on correct answers as well as speed.

As with any activity that involves electronic devices and school WI-FI, some of the students may have problems connecting to the game. Sometimes students get disconnected in the middle of playing a game, a frustrating experience for them. However, I consider this to be an opportunity for these students to demonstrate good sportsmanship. 

Using Kahoot games is a great way for teachers in any subject area to try gamification in their classrooms. I believe Kahoot is an awesome game to play with my students, tapping into their interest in gaming, and building a community of success in my Spanish classroom. In my quest to reach and engage the 21st Century students, I believe Kahoot stands out as a wonderful motivator. 

About the Author
Author: Ruth ValleWebsite: http://edproconsultants.weebly.com
I am a high school and college Spanish instructor in the East Tennessee area. I am also co-CEO of Ed-Pro Consultants. We are a group of teachers who present webinars on current trends in technology. I was named 2012 Monroe County Teacher of the Year and received the 2014 Hiwassee College Dual Enrollment Innovative Teaching Award.

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