Game mechanics in the classroom

Game Mechanics in the Classroom to Engage Learners

Game mechanics are elements of gaming that you can design into your lesson plans to engage learners. Teacher Michael Matera shows us how to use them. We can engage students, even going up to year-long junior high version of “Game of Thrones” like teacher Michael Matera has done. (OK, Game of Thrones fans, don’t worry, there are white walkers or red weddings. Just fun, learning, and excitement! ;-)

michael matera game mechanics

Today's guest, Michael Matera, is a middle school social studies teacher who runs a sixth grade game-based history class . But don't think it's just points and leader boards! Truly gamifying a classroom is so much more, but it's a lot easier than you think.

Michael is the author of Explore Like a Pirate: Gamification and Game-Inspired Course Design to Engage, Enrich and Elevate Your LearnersGet some inspiration and ideas for little and big things you can do to spice up your classroom and engage learners.

Essential Questions: A Walk on the Wild Side of Game Based Learning

  • What are game mechanics and how can you use them in the classroom?
  • What is purpose-driven learning?
  • How can you select specific words to encourage student excellence and have students want to achieve those things without feeling like it's always a lecture?
  • How can you start the class with mini games related to your topic they get everybody excited and engaged?
  • What are some of the central themes to Michael Matera's new book Explore Like a Pirate?

[callout]Hey teachers, let's learn from teachers! Michael Matera is just another fantastic example of great teachers in the classroom innovating and sharing! His book is fantastic! I highly recommend it![/callout]

Educator Resources about Game Based Learning and Michael Matera

Dive Deep: Other Episodes About Game-Based Learning

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Shannon Foley January 25, 2016 - 9:36 pm

I really enjoyed this post and I find the use of gaming in the classroom to be very useful. As mentioned in other blogs that I have read, teachers need to think of innovative ways to encourage students to actively participate in the classroom instruction. Gaming in the classroom also helps students who have a hard time grasping the concept when supplemental material is made available to them. I’m sure some teachers are skeptical of incorporating games into curriculum, but Michael states that test scores have gone up, students are taking notes on their own, and he no longer hands out study guides. Year-over-year students are outperforming each other! Collaboration among students has increased and they want to learn and excel when placed in groups. I think it is important to note that when teachers create innovative content, ideas, and classrooms something amazing happens with students. Students find their passion to learn and succeed at a higher level when the focus is taken off meeting test scores, but rather aiding them to meet the given standards.

We need to be open to new ideas. This is great!

Antonia January 28, 2016 - 10:14 pm

I really appreciate this post. As a preservice teacher I found this post very helpful. Incorporating games and activities that the students know and love is such a cool way get them engage in a lesson. I hope to be able to incorporate this in my future classroom!

Vicki Davis January 29, 2016 - 5:35 pm

The book rocks! I am having a blast implementing the ideas too!


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