This year I have turned my Spanish classroom into an adventure.
We are using a classroom management system called Classcraft. Students are warriors, healers, and mages, earning Experience Points and Gold Pieces for good behaviors, losing Health Points for bad behaviors, and using their Action Points for powers in the classroom. Amazingly, my language classroom has been more enjoyable than ever in my 31 years of teaching. Discipline issues are non-existent as students strive to grow their characters and assist each other in their teams.
We begin each class with Random Events, most of which I have created myself. For example, students strike gold in Mexico, are sailing on the Santa Maria, or have a meeting with the President of Mexico using their Spanish skills. Each event randomly leads to gaining XPs and GPs or losing HPs, and is related to the Hispanic culture. Students learn quickly not to take themselves so seriously and to “lighten up” in the classroom. We then play a Boss Battle, a short formative assessment that covers the previous day’s content. We normally play each battle twice, once in teams and again calling on individual students. These battles teach good sportsmanship as the boss often wins even though the students answered all of the questions correctly. On the other hand, the students are awarded double HPs and GPs for apparently no reason frequently as well, so they quickly learn to just laugh and to ask to play again when they lose a battle.
As I proceed to teach my lesson content to my students, I keep the Classcraft page open and award them with points for positive behaviors and accomplishments. At the beginning of the school year I made a point to award them frequently to build a positive class culture. I also took HPs sparingly from my students if anyone did not behave properly, such as arriving late or falling asleep in class. It usually just took one of those punishments to ward off any future occurrences of negative behaviors. If someone seems to be drifting off to sleep, their team quickly jumps in and wakes him or her up with a stern warning. During timed group work I use Classcraft’s White Mountain Trek that counts down the minutes. If teams finish the work in the allotted amount of time they are awarded with points.
As students level up in the game they are able to buy interesting outfits for their characters and train pets, a learning experience in itself since I set the game language to Spanish. They are proud to show off their characters to the class during the boss battles and look forward to the class’ reaction to their new looks.
Gamifying my class with Classcraft has been a rewarding experience for me as a teacher as well as serving as an outstanding motivator for my students, especially for the boys in my classes, who are very familiar with the game characters and point systems. The game sounds complicated but is easy to learn, as there are preset components that allow teachers to simply upload their students and to start playing. Who would have thought that classroom management could be an adventure?