Earlier this year Social Science Teacher, Mr. McCormick introduced something a little different to his Form II class.
Classcraft is a fantasy-based role-playing game with the goal to “reimagine the classroom with collaborative play at the center of the experience,” as described by the Co-Founder and President, Devin Young. Devin and brother Shawn developed the game in Quebec while Shawn was working as a teacher right here in Sherbrooke. Social Science Teacher, Head of Fine Arts, and Ed Tech Coordinator, Mr. St-Amant was first introduced to Classcraft by a former colleague: “My colleague launched it in his class and the students really enjoyed it. They became engaged—even too engaged at times!” Mr. St-Amant brought it to BCS thinking it would be a good fit in the lower forms. “I think especially within the lower forms one of the challenges for teachers is to ensure that kids are continuously engaged,” he shared. “Classcraft keeps the students engaged even after they leave the classroom.”
When Mr. St-Amant introduced the concept to Mr. McCormick, the latter jumped at the chance to integrate it into his classroom. He’s been using the application in his Form II class since the beginning of the year. “I was really eager to give Classcraft a try. I like experimenting with technology in teaching and this seemed like a perfect fit,” said Mr. McCormick. He initially devoted a full class period to introducing his students to Classcraft, letting them choose and customize their characters, and dividing the students into three different teams.
Students can choose between three different types of characters or avatars: Mages, Warriors, or Healers. Each character has a different set of powers and a different max amount of HP (Health Points) and AP (Action Points) that assist players throughout the course of the game. A Mage, for example, can ‘teleport’ or trade places with another player on its team, or use ‘invisibility’ to leave class for two minutes. HP are life energy, which the teacher can add or remove depending on the student’s behaviour in class. Students who are doing poorly in class or disrupting others will lose HP and can even penalize their teammates. As students excel both academically and socially, they can gain more experience points (XP) that unlock real rewards (getting to use notes on a test or being able to snack in class for example).
Classcraft gamifies the classroom management experience by putting the ownership on the students. Managing the classroom becomes a lot easier with students holding themselves and their teammates accountable. Classcraft motivates students by combining real-world risks and rewards. They can earn or lose points based on classroom behaviour and performance. “Classcraft allows students to work on their social, emotional, and collaboration skills,” shared Mr. McCormick. “They are learning how to cooperate and collaborate with each other as teammates and as peers.”
At the beginning of each class, the Game Master (i.e. Mr. McCormick) starts things off with a ‘random event’ to get students focussed and hooked onto the upcoming lesson. The random event helps focus the class and draws their attention the second they enter the classroom. As described on the Classcraft website, “Random events can be positive, negative, or just plain silly. […] Their effects can be instant or last the whole class period.” While visiting his classroom we happened upon the ‘Kitty Master’ random event whereby the Crazy Cat Lady curses the students so that they must end all their sentences with a ‘meow’ until the end of class. Although silly, the ‘curse’ encouraged students to participate and engage all class long—it also kept the class smiling until the bell rang.