How my students’ interest in reading skyrocketed

Guest post contributed by Classcraft Ambassador Jon-Erik Stamatelos

April 6, 2015

As I sit at home on the first official day of my spring break, I have a chance to sit and think about the changes that have been occurring in my classroom over the last few months since I started using Classcraft—and they are awesome.

Day 1 and 2

I think I have created a classroom environment where my students feel safe to participate, try new things, make mistakes, and learn from them. We are always having debates and spirited conversations about books, novels, and sometimes even grammar! But I always felt like there was something missing—something more I could do.

That’s when I found Classcraft on a random Sunday night. Monday morning, my kids were logged in and selecting their character class (Mage, Warrior or Healer), sitting with their new teammates, discussing what powers they should choose with their first level, and trying to figure out a game plan for who was to use their powers and when. All of this happened on its own. They didn’t need for me to explain the concept of my room as a role-playing game—they already understood it.

The next day, I saw something that made me smile. Students were talking with others in the class that they had not previously been “friends” with, one student funneling kids in from the hallways so they would not be late and lose HP and another student reminding me that we needed to start class with a random event. Classcraft was about to change how my classroom functioned.

… I struggled to figure out a way to reward the student reading a book every few days and the student reading a single book every marking period.

Day 10

Independent reading is a part of my middle school, and I struggled to figure out a way to reward the student reading a book every few days and the student reading a single book every marking period. Both are having success, but I needed a way to push them—and Classcraft was the key.

Every Friday, my students submit a reading log. The log goes into their class folder, and they create their reading story for the year. Some kids would go above and beyond, but others would simply just complete the homework for a grade and move along.

When I added the reward that EVERY page read outside of school equaled 1 Experience Point (XP) in Classcraft, the number of pages read skyrocketed! Students were averaging 45.3 pages a week outside of class before Classcraft—now we are averaging over 95 pages a week independently!

Day 45

On discussion days, when Classcraft points are available, I have a new role for my students that the Wheel of Destiny selects: Gamemaster’s assistant. They “run the board” while I monitor the discussions. XP is given out for insightful answers, intriguing questions, and PROPERLY disagreeing with others. Health Points (HP) are lost for off-topic questions or responses, computer infractions, or not following our classroom procedures for disagreeing with others.

The students have the ability to recommend and submit new random events to be added to our system. Classcraft has seamlessly made its way into my class, engaging each student in their own way. My quiet students now respond to questions in order to earn XP, my talkative students are being monitored by their team to prevent HP loss, and my high fliers are earning XP, leveling up, and being rewarded for going above and beyond. Even my students who were failing and “don’t care about Classcraft XP” are healing their teammates at home and on the weekend when they can.

Conclusion

After using Classcraft for three months in class, my students are reading more, engaged from bell to bell, and excited to see what will come up next!

Share your ideas: How do you encourage a love of reading in your students?

Jon-Erik Stamatelos is a 7th grade language arts teacher at Lawrence Middle School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He is a Google Educator, an authorized Google Education Trainer, and a Classcraft Ambassador.

Photo credit: Dooder / Shutterstock.com

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