Featured Teacher: Game Master Hebert
“I have over a 90 this year and last year I basically failed science,” an eighth-grader says. “Yeah, me too,” another student interrupts. “This class is really fun, you don’t even know you are learning. It’s like he tricks you into learning with the game.”
Actually, that is exactly what Scott Hebert does — students learn science through the game narrative woven throughout his course materials. His game, The Battle for Scientia Terra, has basic game elements that are popular in video games and collectible card games. In the world of the game, students develop characters who have jobs, gain powers, and collect loot, all while demonstrating their scientific knowledge on the battlegrounds of Scientia Terra.
Gamifying Traditional Education
Master Heebs, as the kids have dubbed him, created a fully gamified classroom because, “…many students don’t like school.” The gamified system changes not just the format of the classroom but the students’ language and attitude about education. Students become more empowered in their learning through the game, choosing to buy into the new narrative construct of educational play.
At the start of each semester, guilds are created by an online randomizer called, “The Wheel of Scientia Terra.” Students can change their guilds several times throughout the year, but Hebert has found that students who stay in the same guild the entire year outperform the groups who disband. These guilds learn the strengths and weaknesses of each member so when a large task presents itself, they figure out quickly how to divide up work.
Mr. Hebert uses Pear Deck every day for a mini-lesson, or a game tutorial, before sending students on their quest. During quests, students demonstrate their knowledge on the Battleground, damaging their enemies when they get a correct answer, and gaining experience points after each conquest. Instead of tests and assessments, students engage in boss battles. More importantly, these quests and battles meets the province’s scientific curriculum.
Grading is based on achievement rather than a pass/fail grade. For example, instead of getting a 7/10, which can feel like a failure, students earn 7 points, which they never lose. Earning points motivates students to earn more, instead of leaving class with a disappointing grade and possibly no motivation to continue their learning.
Getting Started with Gamification
Although Hebert dives into the fantasy realm of Scientia Terra, it’s important to take away that he is not only flipping the script on the traditional classroom but instilling real life lessons through group work and personal accountability. Through sharing Hebert’s gamified practices, we want to show that gamification can be an effective option to engage your students, but does require research and preparation. Not to mention some trial and error! To implement some gamification in your classroom, try out these ideas:
Apprentice Level Gamification
- Reviewing for a Test — Create a Jeopardy game for your class to review together. Check out Stacey Roshan’s AP Calc review here: https://blogs.office.com/2015/05/11/ap-calculus-jeopardy-review-gamifying-with-onenote-and-peardeck/
- Assigning Homework — Give students a fun, interactive activity after school. For example, send them on a scavenger hunt and ask them to report their findings.
- Grading — Give students progress bars or levels to achieve instead of static grades. Visible progress shows how close a student is to their next achievement, which increases motivation to reach the goal.
Master Level Gamification
If you’re ready to level up to Game Master Hebert is writing a book on the topic of gamified classrooms. Can’t wait? His blog has tons of fantastic information on gamification, and more about the world of Scientia Terra.