Going on a quest….
Classcraft has a wide array of awesome features to help high school teachers incorporate UDL in their classrooms, gamify their lessons by making quests, and encourage participation through teamwork, character customization, and points!
I got started on my special quest following a comment my supervisor said at a recently weekly meeting:
“You can construct a quest on anything of your choosing. It can be what you are specialized in (aka your teachables) or anything you find interesting.”
Looking beyond my specialities
Wow! I haven’t thought about teaching outside my specialties (chemistry and science) in a while. I had recently assembled a bookshelf from IKEA to store my growing collection of positive psychology, self help, and mindfulness books (such as Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and The Child in You by Stephanie Stahl). I had become so engrossed in learning and teaching chemistry and general science for high school students that I hadn’t even thought to use my knowledge of psychology, game design, and pedagogy.
“Well then, I’ll make a quest on positive psychology!”
That put a huge smile on my face.
Building my quest
Just like that, I began to construct a new quest. I could see it working in two specific areas:
- Grade 11 sociology, anthropology and psychology curriculum courses in my Ontario Secondary school
- Positive psychology classrooms in post-secondary school
Where do I start?
Building this quest brought out a lot of different emotions. I felt waves of excitement from incorporating ideas about positive psychology from multiple resources such as books, podcasts, lectures, etc. I also felt overwhelmed and a sense of analysis paralysis since there were so many different concepts that I could cover!
Where do I begin? Which voices do I include? What kinds of activities? I felt a wave of anxiety with the sheer number of amazing concepts in positive psychology. How will I include them all?
I took a deep breath and decided to connect with my supervisor again, I didn’t know where to start. Luckily, my supervisor has worked in high school classrooms for years prior to working at Classcraft. He reminded me of the backwards design planning method and he put my mind at ease. I instantly began applying the theoretical concepts from the MT program and game psychology to create an exciting quest.
I started looking at the Ontario Curriculum Expectations for the Grade 11 Sociology, Anthropology, and Psychology courses to see how to focus the learning goals for my quest. . I began piecing together different theories for positive psychology:
- Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (as well as the criticisms)
- Martin Seligman and his experiments on learned helplessness and learned optimism
- Eastern influences on positive psychology from Buddhism, Taoism, etc.
Here are a few images of the quest I created. The purple circles are the objectives and tasks for students to complete, and the arrows between them correspond to the path students unlock when they complete the objective.
I also included scientific literacy skill-building through the following objective (see images 4 – 6):
Engaging with Classcraft
It was really cool engaging with the Classcraft platform and seeing just how many different teaching strategies I could incorporate. .
I also decided to include different concepts from game psychology in order to encourage engagement with the material. An important resource I referred to was Jane McGonigal’s (2011) book Reality is Broken, where she wrote about the strategies we can learn from games to make life more engaging and meaningful.
For instance, games can be broken down into four components:
- Voluntary participation
The Classcraft platform includes rewards and rules so I wanted to ensure I incorporated feedback and voluntary participation into my quest. I did this by including different assessments and submissions throughout the quest: discussions, reflections, summaries, etc., to provide feedback to students throughout their learning journey. I also incorporated optional paths and choice into my quest to encourage voluntary participation.
Encouraging student autonomy
By providing students with choices, I was able to further encourage student autonomy and intrinsic motivation (Upton, 2017). For the final assessment of the quest, students would get the opportunity to select one of five paths to apply their learning of positive psychology. They would incorporate a positive psychology strategy into their daily lives for 5 consecutive days. This included gratitude, guided meditations, breathing meditations, muscle relaxation techniques, and mindfulness techniques. Students would also have the opportunity to submit their evidence of completion through different means: written, audio, video reflection (and many more).
My placement journey
Circling back to the goals I began my placement journey with 3 goals:
Goal 1: Expand my horizons and try something new
Goal 2: Network in the expanding field of educational games
Goal 3: Design and create original content (games and/or projects)
Goal 1: I definitely expanded my horizons through challenging myself to create a psychology- themed quest!
Goal 2: Because I designed this project, I got to meet new coworkers to present my quest. They decided to use it across the company in future workshops with teachers. I felt so happy that my work was going to help people.
Goal 3: Finally, this journey directly addressed my third goal of designing and creating original content.
McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. Penguin.
Upton, B. (2017). Situational game design. CRC Press.
Photo Credit: Nicole Kofman