27 April 2015

Classcraft in Spanish: Genius Hour Gamification

From here on out, it's all portfolios and passion projects.

We accomplished our two big PBL projects (and took home a few trophies!). Both whole-class projects were time sensitive, so we couldn't start with full-throttle Genius Hour, but these were my Genius Hour guinea pig kids last year, so unlike Spanish I, they already had an idea of what to expect.

So here at the end, we're seeing if we can squeeze one more proficiency level into portfolios and gathering resources to prepare for one last personalized IPA for the final "exam." It's really a very individual process from here on out. I even undid the table pods in favor of sort of a more fluid perpendicular tables design.

Now, I got to see power standards and playlists in action during my recent personalization tour of some impressive schools, and I wanted to take those concepts and sort of automate the playlists gamification style. In light of recent #langchat talks on standards-based grading, I thought adding a game element to the process might make a good alternative to giving grades for the formative parts of the playlist.

Plus it's just something I've wanted to try.

Initial setup
I plotted out how much time I had left in class for the year: about 18 hours.I also figured out what activities I wanted the kiddos to have completed before E-Day--Exam Day--and estimated how long each activity would take. By some miracle, the total ended up being almost exactly 18 hours!

Classcraft is the class gamification platform I've heard the most about. And it's free. I imagine I might have some kids that are too cool for magos, curanderos, and guerreros, but I figure if I let them choose their character and their description (they can choose mujer or hombre and asiático, obscuro (?!?), bronceado, and pálido) and tap into their competitiveness, they might still get a kick out of it. Plus those that are too cool are often too competitive, so that could help.

I had to use a little Google Fu to find the rules page and the hero pact, which I'll have to adapt to my evil purposes anyway (that'll probably be a whole other post), but those along with the.

I have 18 Genius Hour steps, Pasos de Pasión, that I will set up in the Classcraft under the content publications. They'll be set up individually on Google Classroom, since I still have to do that 15% "daily work" grade in my district, and I'll award points in Classcraft for each one completed. I'll probably post my portfolio badge page video for another content publication, but since most of the content this time of year is individual and student-generated and goes on either the passion blog or e-portfolio, I probably won't need to add much more "content."

XP (experience points)
This is where you award points based on task completion so students can level up. When students level up, they can "learn" powers that they can use to get further in the game or enjoy privileges in the non-virtual classroom. I set the bar at 200 points so they could level up several times in the next few weeks--every day if they speak 90% Spanish and complete 2 steps in the process!

Here are the tasks I set up to earn XP (except in English):

  • Update your "Final Self-Evaluation" page   +20XP
  • Update your "Proficiency Badges" page   +20XP
  • Complete a Passion Step   +50XP
  • Submit a REVISED page of your portfolio   +50XP
  • Submit a NEW page of your portfolio   +75XP
  • Speak in only English 90% of class   +100XP

I plan to enter portfolio grades and IPA grades as well, and students will get 5 XP points for 9/10 and 10 XP points for 10/10 on each.

HP (health points)
Students have to keep their characters alive if they want to be able to level up, but I set it up so they lose health these ways:

  • Distracting classmates -10HP
  • Speaking English -10HP
  • Woking on other classes' work  -15HP
  • Playing around on phone or computer (unrelated games)  -20HP
If they lose too much health, the character dies and can be arrived only by a teammate or fulfilling a "sentence." Me, I just made a sentence out of each of the categories of Homework Choices.

AP (action points)
This is where special privileges come in--in the game and in the classroom. You have to decide what you're willing--and able--to allow as rewards. I mean, the college says no food, and I have no windows to open. Also there is absolutely no reason in my class to "win" an "extra 8 minutes" on a test, when kids get as long as they need on IPAs anyway. So I'm thinking maybe some passes that will get the out of revising a portfolio section or doing the personalized homework for the week. I'm also contemplating allowing kids to cross campus to work at the library or even bringing some galletas for the "caza" reward--to be consumed in the cafeteria of course. (This may have to be its own post too.)

You can award Action Points for events, but otherwise I set it up for everyone to just get 5 a day. They have to have a certain number of level-up Power Points to be eligible to use the Action Points and "learn skills" that translate into privileges for themselves and/or their teams, so students have to make requests when they want to use them, and I have to grant them manually. I don't think this should be a problem during all of the independent work--as long as they're requesting in the target language, of course!

According to the Classcraft site, game management should only take about 5 minutes a day, mostly during the daily "Eventos Aleatorios."

There were 80 pre-loaded events, but I only have 13 days to play, so I had a lot of trimming to do. A teacher in the forum also recommended tying all events to some kind of performance, and I think that's probably the best way to take advantage of this system. While the spaghetti western Clint Eastwood challenge sounds really cool, I'm thinking it won't do a whole lot for proficiency or focus, so I switched it to to singing a song in Spanish.

I liked the pre-loaded consequences for a lot of the activities and kept those, but changed the description. I ditched all but three with negative consequences--gotta keep it interesting, right?

Here are the good events:

  • Everyone wins 5 HP if they can name a Latino singer.
  • Everyone that can conjugate a different verb in 5 forms wins 100 XP.
  • All the players win double the AP today and 50 XP if they submit a 1-minute video in which they talk with a partner about their passion.
  • The DJ (teacher) will play a song from the coros. A random player will have to identify the singer OR the song. If the student fails, he/she loses 15 HP; if the student guesses both, he/she wins 250 XP.
  • The player with the least XP has to sing a coro in front of the class.
  • The player with the least XP picks a song for the Game Master to sing.
  • Everyone wins double the XP today if they illustrate 10 vocabulary words from their Passion.
  • Nobody can lose HP today if they submit a 1-minute video in which they talk with a partner about their day and their plans.
  • Everybody wins 5 AP if they write their plans for the coming week.
  • Nobody falls in battle today if they can explain a video of a conversation between other classmates.
Here are the bad events:
  • The player that has the most XP in each group has to dance  "Te mueves tú" or lose 10 HP.
  • All need to reflect on their research in 2 or 3 sentences or they cannot win XP today.
  • The player who has the most AP loses 15 AP if they do not win a round of Verba (snuck that one in there for Sr. Ballestrini & Sra. Matheson).

So wish us luck as we head into the world of Classcraft and gamification this week! I'll let you know how it goes!


  1. You are a genius! I can't thank you enough for sharing this!!