Gamifying the Classroom


James McNamara's Portfolio Page

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Purpose for Gamifying the Classroom

Kids (and adults) love games. Is there a way that we as teachers can utilize this passion today's kids have for gaming, in the classroom? The answer is YES.

The wide variety of games that students have prior knowledge about (sports, video games, card games, game shows, board games, etc.) creates multiple access points for students to engage with a new topic by appealing to their prior experiences with games. With effective application, game design elements such as badges, points, and leaderboards can be used in the classroom in a variety of ways. This intent of this mini-course is to provide teachers with an understanding of how to use game design elements in the classroom to support engagement and provide behavioral interventions.

As you work your way through this course, you will earn experience points for each completed task within the three units. Within the Activities section of each unit, the amount of XP rewarded for the tasks within section can be found in gold. Once enough XP is earned within the Unit, you will receive a badge and gain access to the next unit of work!

Needs Assessment

Instructional problem: The need for elementary students to be motivated and engaged by the work they are completing in school.

The nature of what is to be learned: Engagement and motivation are terms that every teacher is very familiar with, but many classrooms today are structured in a way that do not allow for students to fully immerse themselves in their learning, which in turn creates problems with engagement and motivation. The traditional models of education rely too heavily on a teacher's ability to transfer knowledge through the means of instruction. By introducing elements of game design in the classroom that students have prior knowledge of engaging with outside of school, teachers can increase engagement and intrinsic motivation by appealing to student interests within the context of games. When engagement and motivation are increased while learning a new topic or skill, a more student centered environment can be fostered, allowing for the teacher to focus their attention and scaffold support to students with the highest needs.

Performance Objectives

Throughout the 3 Units of this course, you will...

  • develop an understanding of gamification and game mechanics
  • demonstrate your understanding of how games can be used to increase motivation in school
  • demonstrate your understanding of game mechanics by classifying badges, points and leaderboards prior to the end of the course
  • create badges to effectively reward positive behaviors and academic achievement to increase engagement and motivation given the resources from this course
  • construct an XP point system that aligns with academic tasks within any lesson or subject area given the resources of this course
  • create a "leaderboard" to share student achievement and future goals to foster classroom community and relationships given the resources of this course

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.


Unit 1: Games and Learning

What is Gamification? Why and how do elements of game design motivate and engage students in their learning?

Unit 2: Game Mechanics and Classroom Dynamics

What are Badges, Experience Points, and Leaderboards and how can they be used in an educational setting?

Unit 3: Start Gamifying your Classroom

Create your own badges, experience point systems and boards to use in your unique educational setting!

James McNamara's Portfolio Page