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Authentic Engagement Using Gameful Learning in HS English

Jared Colley; Nick Dresseler — The Oakridge School; De Smet Catholic High School

In this session, Jared Colley and Nick Dressler, both high school instructors, will share methods and practices they’ve employed to make English class more gameful and more authentic when it comes to inspiring and assessing authentic learning. Come learn how using XP scoring, class battles, game narratives, personalized choice, and mastery-based grading have helped make subjects like Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, dystopian fiction, contemporary poetry (like Clint Smith) and the basics of writing composition more engaging because the curricular design is more human-focused as opposed to function-focused. Using a human designed framework that makes a distinction between stressful motivators (fear of loss, unpredictability, etc.) and empowering motivators (a sense of purpose, choice & agency, social influence), we’ll provide examples (that are easily adaptable) of how to make class content more leaner-driven as opposed to curriculum-driven, of how to make grading more affirmation-based as opposed to punitive, and how to make student assessment more equitable by making it as much about process and progress as it is about the product. This is not a show-and-tell session though. The idea is to simulate such strategies by making the session gameful as well. Attendees will be assigned different character classes (such as “the wallflower”; “the skeptic”; “the explorer”; “the inquisitor”; and perhaps our favorite, “the synthesizer”), thereby giving each person a role to play in our focused conversation that dives deep into the waters good curriculum/game design.

Conversational Practice

As stated above, all participants will be assigned or (given the opportunity to choose) a "character class" (in other words, a role to play in the interactive conversation we hope to inspire). We also plan to use a back channel where participants can up-vote or down-vote what topics they want us to cover in the limited time we have. Some of the options participants can vote up or down would be designing collaborative learning opportunities, creating more student choice, mastery-based grading, embedding content gamification vs. structural gamification, using XP grading systems, etc.

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