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Going through my google reader recently, I stumbled upon an atricle titled ‘5 Reasons to “Gamify” You Class’. The article sparked my interest and lead my to look into ‘Gamification’ further. I feel like I’m a little late on this idea as my search revealed many articles and sites on the topic.

To me ‘Gamification’ made me think of the term ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’. Our students whether we like it or not a playing computer games at an enormous rate, in particular boys and the trend only looks to be increasing. ‘Gamification’ looks at why games are so popular, engaging and often addictive and aims to incorporate these aspects into an education setting.

Bellow are some links to videos and sites on the topic of Gamification that I have found interesting, informative and in the case of John Hunter’s speech inspiring.

John Hunter: Teaching with the World Peace Game (TED Talks)

Gabe Zichermann: Gamification (TED Talks)

Website: superfunner.com

Tom Chatfield: 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain

My own thoughts

After watching the videos and reading further about the subject, it made me think about some of the games I played when I was young and some of the games I still play.

I thought about the game ‘Pokemon’ which I am unashamed to say I was addicted to when it first came out on the Nintedo Game Boy way back in 1996. I chose my starting Pokemon and raised him and earned badges by defeating opponents and completing different tasks. I remember wanting my Pokemon to get stronger and looking forward to them evolving and changing, the anticipation and reward of my little creature learning something new or catching a new Pokemon was enough to see me play and focus on the game for hours at a time.

What if at the start of the year, each student got to choose a little creature either digitally or from a couple that have been printed, every time they completed or attempted a task at school whatever it may be they gained experience points to go toward growing their little creature. At designated levels the students creature may have the to option of evolving, changing names, learning new powers or attacks.  The aim is to have the students as engaged in their learning through game like rewards as they would be playing a video game.

Gamification isn’t without its sceptics and doubters:

These article warn about token motivation and what happens if or when the novelty wears off. They talk about psychological factors that influence our engagement and need to achieve.

Have a look at both sides and make up your own mind.

What are your thoughts and ideas on ‘Gamification’?

Have you or do you know of anyone that has tried to Gamify their classroom?

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Launched in Victoria in 2009 it provides a framework and guide for what constitutes high quality teaching and what it should look like.

Without being a hard and fast explicit way things should be done, it aims to provide a guide for improved practice, stimulate conversation, promote reflection and critique of current and future practice.

The model has been developed with other programs currently in effect including ‘Principles of Learning and Teaching‘ (Polts) and ‘Primary Connections’.

The E5 model is very much teacher centred. The focus is on improving teacher practice, not about what the students are doing or what they are capable of.

As the title suggests the model uses 5 E’s:

1. Engage
Teachers are too:

  • Develop shared norms
  • Determine readiness to learn
  • Establish learning goals
  • Develop metacognitive capacity
  • Foster relationships with and between students
  • Establish expectations for learning
  • Elicit prior knowledge
  • Stimulate interest and curiosity by connecting with students real world experiences
  • Provide a purpose for learning
  • Develop explicit assessment and performance requirements
  • Develop tasks and assist students to achieve the requirements
2. Explore

Teachers are too:

  • Prompt inquiry
  • Structure inquiry
  • Maintain session momentum
  • Present tasks to support students to generate and investigate questions, gather information and develop ideas
  • Provide tools to organise information
  • Identify and challenge conceptions and misconceptions
  • Scaffold to expand knowledge
3. Explain

Teachers are too:

  • Present new content
  • Develop language and literacy
  • Strengthen connections
  • Provides opportunities to demonstrate knowledge
  • Explicitly teaches knowledge, concepts and skills
  • Present content in a variety of ways
  • Formatively assesses and provides opportunities for development of new skills
4. Elaborate

Teachers are too:

  • Facilitate substantive conversation
  • Cultivate higher order thinking
  • Monitor progress
  • Extend understanding
  • Identify and define relationships between concepts
  • Generate rules and principles
  • Have students working on the right edge of the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’
5. Evaluate

Teachers are too:

  • Assess performance against standards
  • Facilitate student self assessment
  • Use assessment criteria for improvement
  • Use evidence from each phase to inform progress against the learning goals
  • Provide feedback and assistance in the reflection process
  • Identify future learning goals

As it is a model for high quality teaching practise and meant to drive improvement I have ranked myself in order of most competent to least competent:

1. Explore, 2. Engage, 3. Elaborate, 4. Explain, 5. Evaluate

From this I can now go forward knowing I need to focus and improve on my ‘Evaluation’ and ‘Explanation’ techniques as well as continuing to improve ‘Elaboration’. I can also plan to use what I see as strengths in ‘Exploration’ and ‘Engagement’.
This kind of reflection may be useful in a team teaching environment. A fellow teacher may have very different rankings. Being able to work around and with each other’s identified strengths and weaknesses could improve teaching practice.

What has been your experience with the E5 Instruction Model?

How has it affected your teaching?

Over my time at university as a student teacher I have gained an appreciation of Gardner’s work on Multiple Intelligences.

*Picture made using spiderscribe.net

It has helped me understand that the students I teach although come together as a class, are individuals with individual learning styles. In understanding this, I use Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences to help differentiate my teaching.
When planning activities my aim is to accommodate for the varying learning styles present in a classroom. It’s difficult to account for everyone in a single lesson but I think it’s important to reach out and cater to the different learning styles when and where possible.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of planning for one style because it’s most comfortable and easy to teach. Singing, dancing and illustrating may not be my strengths, but they may be the students’ strengths.
I use Gardner’s theory and the picture I created to remind me that not all students are the same and to ‘mix it up’.
The students will appreciate it.

How has Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences influenced your teaching?

I loved both my primary and secondary schools and remember my time at both so fondly, so much so that if I had it my way I would never have left!

I also remember some of the amazing people that taught me and inspired me. It’s my hope that with a lot of hard work and effort I can be the same to today’s primary students as they were for me.

I went to a small primary school in Cranbourne, Melbourne. There I met some lifelong friends that I still see weekly. I also had some incredible teachers. One in particular I have used as an example time and time again as a teacher I remember fondly, Mr Cerdor.

He taught me in grade 4 and again in grade 6. He had a reputation as being quite strict and the kind of teacher if you didn’t know him, as a student made you a little anxious after finding out you were to be in his class the following year.

He turned out to be at times as scary as I thought he would be as a 9 year old but he also turned out to be probably the most important person in my nearly 20 years of formal education.

It was Mr Cerdor who:

  • Picked up I was having a difficult time with spelling.
  • Spent his lunch times helping me with my spelling.
  • Spoke to my parents and helped them help me.
  • Provided an element of competition that I thrived on. When he started playing times table and geography competitions in the classroom, I found myself looking through atlases  & reciting times tables for hours outside of school, all to try and get my name on the board as current champion in one of the competitions for a few days.
  • Took an interest in what I was interested in outside of school
  • I didn’t want to disappoint
  • I respected

I remember him and his classes so clearly. Even though he was strict, he was fair and I enjoyed being in his class.

I hope to emulate some of the wonderful things I remember about his teaching and try and do them half as well as he did and still does.

He is one of a hand full of teachers that inspire me to this day to teach and for that I am thankful.


I’m sure others have had a teacher similar to Mr Cerdor, please feel free to share what you remember of them and what made them so great!