Gamification in Education

I moderated the #slowchatED Twitter chat for the last week of May 2015. The topic I chose was gamification in education. I work for a provider of K-12 educational materials in Finland, so it was very refreshing to jump into discussions with (mainly) US educators.

When I asked about gamification examples, the first answers mentioning e.g. Kahoot! were what I expected. Kahoot! does a great job in turning a classroom or a virtual learning space into a competitive environment. I was also told about Classcraft, which I think I had heard before but never really took a closer look. Now I will for sure.

In my job I am mainly involved with online learning materials. Just to calibrate my thinking, I also wanted to find some examples where modern technologies play little or no role. I got some great answers such as:

  • Having students running towards a fence, trying to estimate how much is 2/3 of the distance and stopping there. The best guesser gets to pick the next fraction, and off they go again.
  • Survivor-inspired Grudgeball, where answering trivia questions is combined with voting out your classmates.
  • Giving students dice and having them to simulate the electoral process of the US, where each student is a district and they form groups which are states.

The week-long discussion reinforced my opinion that learners should be motivated and engaged. This is not to say that they don’t need to drill from time to time or read long texts, not at all. Engagement can come from multiple sources. Quest for mastery is probably the ultimate motivator but gamification can be used at least to spark the interest and get things started.

My favorite quote of the week was the following:

Gamifying evens the playing field. It helps all to get aboard, to get engaged. And when they are engaged:

Thanks again for having me!

REFLECTION April 27-May 2

Reflection:  throwing back, serious thought or consideration, cognition


Let me take a minute to reflect…

Why am I so resistant to writing the introductory piece to #slowchatED? It seems to turn me off in some way.  Not sure why? Maybe I feel it has to be formal and totally legit since #slowchatED is a collective endeavor sparked by @davidtedu and maintained by the masses.  I feel a sense of obligation to try harder, sound smarter, write better than I normally do.

But why the resistance? It doesn’t make sense considering the fact that over the course of #slowchatED’s existence I’ve learned that I really like the easy going pace and intimate nature of a slow twitter chat. I enjoy being able to think about the questions, although I do still answer in a spur of the moment fashion.  #slowchatED has created a space for me to dream, problem solve, question, support, and befriend many teachers.  If I met them face-to-face I would already know some of their fundamental beliefs as an educator…and a human.  It’s triggered new thought, challenged old thinking, and connected me with positive forward thinking educators from all over.  #slowchatED has offered the perfect amount of give and take during the busy school year.

Even though I did not answer my original question, and the reason for writing the above reflection, I did link and construct meaning out of my #slowchatED experiences.


I’m curious about the role reflection plays in learning.  This year I began a reflective journey on Instagram that changed me more than any other PD or bit of information I have learned.  My reflections began as random yoga poses with minimal writing. Everyday I posted a yoga picture and wrote.  Eventually my writing evolved and became more reflective.  Posting a picture everyday to a social media site became a catalyst for growth that was completely unexpected.  I guess, what I didn’t expect was that I already had a ton of experiences inside of me but through the reflective process I was able to make sense of it.  It became apparent to me through this process that reflection is critical, essential, and should not be pushed to the side as a two minute exercise at the end of a period.  Reflection takes time and effort.  I’m now wondering if teaching reflection is more valuable then teaching content…

I have so many questions, I just don’t know where to start so I’ll just randomly list them:

  • Why reflect? Why is it important?
  • What reflective process do teachers, students, admins have?
  • Why aren’t we required more to reflect?
  • Do we have to reflect on our personal lives to be able to reflect on our professional lives?
  • Do we value reflections or is it considered too touchy-feely? Not academic enough?
  • Is a written reflection more effective than a reflective conversation?
  • How do we allow for students to reflect? What practices do we have in place?
  • Do we reflect?
  • Is there more power in sharing your reflections? Why share them?
  • How can we, as teachers, grade or evaluate a student’s reflection? Is there any way to compare one student’s reflection with another’s? Every one’s reflection will be different…how can we grade them?

Questions to be solidified when they are tweeted.  I’m still reflecting on which ones I want to ask…

#slowchated week of March 30th – April 4th, 2015

“Building capacity on experiential learning”
#slowchated week of March 30th
Moderated by Allison Fuisz (@allison_fuisz) and Mari Venturino (@msventurino)

Last week, March 23-28, the #slowchated conversation delved into the world of deep learning.  The goal was to bring some light to what deep learning is and how it is an essential part of student success and learning.  In summary, those who participated in the chat saw deep learning as a means for students to fully immerse in their learning and apply it to their life.  In the words of students, “deep learning is something that sticks with you, like root”.

So how do we get things to stick and become roots in students’ understanding of the world around them?  Experiential learning may be the answer.

Today I attended a PD session with Jennifer Stanchfield.  Her common sense and imaginative approach to teaching revolves around experiential learning and the simple day-to-day activities that teachers can present to students in helping to form their understanding of content and collaborative opportunities.  Comments in the room from teachers were varied when it came to this line of thought.  They ranged from “this is hard” to “wow, I never thought of approaching a class like that!”  These varied responses shows the different levels of understanding as to what experiential learning means and how it can be a positive in the lives of students.

According to the UC Denver Experiential Learning Center,
“Learning that is considered “experiential” contain all the following elements:
1. Reflection, critical analysis and synthesis
2. Opportunities for students to take initiative, make decisions, and be accountable for the results
3. Opportunities for students to engage intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially, or physically
4. A designed learning experience that includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes, and successes”

To some, experiential learning is second nature; to others, it is a chore that involves more work than what they deem necessary despite the benefits it carries for students.

So how do we build capacity around experiential learning?  It seems like a no-brainer yet not everyone is on board. Perhaps this twitter chat will be a starting point for some or spark some interest in others to spread the ideas of experiential learning forward.

TED talk on experiential learning: https://youtu.be/5rQBH1TH9pAExperiential Tools

Q1: What is experiential learning? #slowchated
Q2: What personal experience do you have with experiential learning? #slowchated
Q3: Name a resource that is a must for Ts RE: experiential learning? #slowchated
Q4: How does experiential learning promote critical thinking and deep learning? #slowchated
Q5: Based on this week’s chat, how are you going to implement experiential learning into your classroom? #slowchated

#SlowchatED Week of March 16, 2015

Week of March 16th
Topic: Homework

When I woke up this morning, I saw that #slowchated was mod-less. I volunteered, but didn’t have a topic in mind. A few rolled through while getting ready and heading to work, but nothing struck me as authentic or something I needed to discuss. However, this all changed once 1st period started today. Only about 25% of my students had their big unit project completed…I was furious. <rant> My students have had this project assigned in early February, and have had multiple opportunities in class to work on their project. I have been available before school most days, at lunch, and occasionally after school. Additionally, I check my work email frequently. How is this possible?! I expected maybe 25% to have an incomplete project. This project is in place of a unit assessment, and students were excited to not have a test. I feel disappointed, frustrated, and angry. *deep breath* </rant>

Out of this, I decided I need to spend some time thinking about homework. I know my students don’t have the support for doing homework at home, yet I don’t know where, why, and how their disregard for homework started. I’ve started assigning less homework, and when I do, I’m finding fewer students completing it. I need to revolutionize my classroom, and go in with a new game plan next school year.

I don’t have any extra resources/research because this topic comes purely from my need to grow as a teacher, and my curiosities about how other teachers are handling similar issues. If you have resources, please share in the comments below, or on Twitter with the hashtag #slowchated.

Here are the questions:
Q1: What does homework mean to you and your students? #slowchated
Q2: What is the purpose of homework? Are there alternatives? #slowchated
Q3: How do you handle students who do not do their homework? #slowchated
Q4: How can we make homework more manageable for students?
Q5: What’s the best excuse you’ve gotten for why a student didn’t do their homework? #slowchated

*Questions are subject to change, based on where discussion goes*

#SlowchatED: Educators Empowering Student Voice

My summary from moderating #SlowchatED week of February 2, Educators Empowering Student Voice

On a New Journey

This past week I had the lovely honour of moderating #slowchatED, and the topic was Student Voice.

There was a lot of energy especially the first few days of the chat. Participants were driven to empower each other and discuss strategies and techniques they use in their classrooms to empower student voice. Let me preface this and say that the entire chat and everyone, and I mean *everyone* literally had the best ideas and most genuine participation, they were truly there because they’re invested in their students. So my highlights will not do the chat justice.

Here are some of my favourite highlights of the chat:

View original post 803 more words

#SlowchatED: Empowering Student Voice in the Classroom & Beyond

i always wondereed

Rusul Alrubail‘s guest blog post for #slowchatED Week of February 2.

Student voice and autonomy is so important to foster in a learning environment. When students are empowered in the learning process their motivation and engagement with learning automatically increases. The results are positive for both the teacher and students when students take charge and become active agents in their own learning.

I wrote about student autonomy a few months ago here: https://medium.com/teaching-learning/student-autonomy-e56bd45a7f51

This was my most recommended and viewed post for a while, and I think it’s because so many of us believe in the power of student voice.

Student voice is important because:

  • It allows students to be empowered to learn.
  • It creates active agents in the classroom, school and community.
  • It tailored knowledge, learning, process to the needs of the learner.
  • It defines the future of education.
  • It has the power to change the world.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts this week when you join us at #SlowchatEd.

CHANGE is in the air

Sometimes, you could use a little change. PARKING METER WITH TIME EXPIRED FLAG

But then, other times, you’re like, “No. No thanks. You can keep the change.”The Patrice Alegre Affair

One thing is for certain, though: Change is ubiquitous.

We can fight it. We can try to deny the inevitability of it. But change is a constant, a force of nature, and something that, in the end, we must either embrace or risk being left behind.

The topic for this week’s #slowchatED came from a number of changes impending in my life, but the impetus in the moment I decided to Tweet the first question

was something that may seem like a small thing, but even now, nearly twelve hours later, I’m still plagued by the tendrils of it.

Our district is changing email servers. We are finally embracing all that Google has to offer educators and leaving the world of Microsoft Exchange behind. As someone trusted to pilot this change, I am now stuck in the middle of the two platforms receiving some messages here, others there, some on both, and find myself constantly locked out of the overall system due to some device somewhere that is still banging away with the password I was using before this change entered my life.

When I add this to the possibility of leaving the classroom for an administrative position, a new superintendent being sought by our Board of Managers, and the many changes that Board has brought to our district, I find myself thinking more and more often recently about what change means to us. How do people deal with major change in healthy ways? What kind of people embrace change? What kind of people fear it? Why do we fear it?

These questions in one form or another will guide our discussion through this week. Be sure to check back every day through Saturday for a new question. And take your time. It’s #slowchatED.

Photos courtesy of Corbis Images

#EdTechWish, Jan 5- Jan 10 #SlowChatEd Topic

By Lindsey Lipsky, M.Ed.

Do you have a wish? As a former Special Education Teacher working in high-needs districts around the country, my wish in 2015 was for all schools to have the technology they so desperately need to create engaging schools and learners. Too often the highest needs schools have the least access to technology.  Why is that? This question (and a dinner conversation with my brother) prompted #EdTechWish.

Read the original #EdTechWish blog post here.

The entire premise of #EdTechWish centered around the thought that much of what comes out of Technology Design today usually is an education “accident” (hello iPads and Chromebooks). The business of technology design is, more times than not, just not centered around the classroom environment.

My twin brother, Ash, works for a high-tech Design and User Experience Firm here in Chicago and is an amazing technical designer and overall great person. While discussing new technology design over dinner one evening, my question to him was simple:

“Why does it seem like new technology keeps coming out that “accidentally” works well in the classroom? Shouldn’t Tech Developers (such as yourself) be reaching out to Schools/ Teachers/ Districts FIRST to create and design tech rather than the other way around?”

You can read a more tongue-in cheek version of this conversation in the original post.

The conversation got me thinking–What would happen if we started a chat on Twitter asking EDUCATORS what THEY want to see for new Tech in 2015 for help in their classrooms? Might this have an impact on the way technology is designed? Rather than having large Tech giants start projects that just so happen to work well for our classrooms, why not start by asking what schools/ teachers/ and classrooms need first?

And thus,  #EdTechWish was born.

Margaret Mead writes, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” With that in mind, how can we change the way Tech is designed for Education?

Please join us for the #SlowEdChat this week on #EdTechWish. Share your ideas and wishes for what technology you’d like to see in the new year, and maybe– just maybe, we can change how technology is designed for the classroom.

Please join the #EdTechWish conversation or follow me on twitter @lindseylipsky.


A big thank you to @ecsaibel for this amazing invite and @FarleyJeffrey for introducing me to #SlowChatEd. Can’t wait for our conversations this week! It’s an honor to work with you all!


The Patient Art (and Flow) of Influence: #SlowchatED Dec 15-21


Courtesy of Maddie, @HallMiddle 8th grader

We often talk about influence as a commodity – something to be “peddled.” People make careers out of influencing others (e.g. lobbyists), yet the concept of “influence” can also have an unsavory undertone. Influence as a contagion, something difficult to contain once let out into the open; an idea or mentality (or substance) that sullies something pure.

What if we took more time to think and talk about influence as a spirit of connection, a frame of mind – one that encourages us to both share ideas with others (and perhaps see them take root) and open ourselves up to what other people think and believe (and to feel those ideas take root in us)? (more…)

Making ideas real (December 8 – 12)

For connected educators, it seems like there is a never-ending flow of new ideas. From education websites and blogs to the ‘drinking from the firehose’ experience of trying to keep up with all things education on Twitter, you can find great ideas any way you turn. How do you take those ideas and make them into reality?

Monday: Share an idea you recently implemented in your school.

Tuesday: What are your favorite sources for new ideas?

Wednesday: How do you manage the flow of ideas?

Thursday: Share an idea you are working on now. How are you moving from idea to reality?

Friday: How can we support each other and our colleagues to implement new ideas?

With everyone sharing their ideas you may pick up some new ones of your own. Hopefully, it’s worth the risk.