ClassCraft for ESL Teachers

Before talking about the target website, Gamification must be approached. Gamification is basically the use of game design elements in non-game contexts, which differentiates if from serious games. It is the use of games into classroom contexts to help teachers with regular class routines and to motivate students. Nowadays  technology takes a lot of place in children and teenagers life, but also young adults. Therefore, schools have no choice but to adapt to this situation; this is where gamification becomes of great use. Gamification gives the possibility to motive students to participate and do their homework because the results appear on the board.

ClassCraft is a classroom management website/application. The application is available on the Apple Store and on Android. The application for Iphones and Smartphones is available only when you register for the premium version (which offers more). ClassCraft is played in more than 1900 classes, in 50 countries and played in seven different languages. This application/website is a combination of Class Dojo and World of WarCraft, a computer video game. It is similar to Class Dojo but incorporates many elements from video games, which makes it less childish. The application/website is available in several languages, such as English, which makes it easily adaptable for an ESL classroom. I created myself an account, it seems complicated at first because there are a lot of options. It would probably be a bit easier for someone that games often, since it is based on a computer game. One practical option is that each time you open a new section of the website there is a mini tutorial that you can watch. There is also a demo class when you log in for the first time in order to try it out.

Similar to Class Dojo, you can give and take off points based on students behaviour in class. Instead of accumulating points for themselves only, students are in teams, that way their point accumulations affects more than one person. It is possible for the teacher to give XP (points) simply for attending class, this way it does motivate students, whether in elementary or secondary because they know that if they show up they give points to their team. In their teams, students have to accumulate experience points in order to level up.

There are four different types of points that students can accumulate: Health, action, experience and gold points. The first, health points (HP) are like the characters life level, if it attends zero, it dies. The teacher can make sure that all students get a new amount of HP every day, to make sure that no characters die. They are taken off based on the students behaviour, such as: arriving late to class, disturbing the class or incomplete homework. The teacher can decide at the beginning (and change during) the amount of points lost in those categories. The second, action points (AP) are points that permits the use of power and abilities. Abilities can either be won or given as a privilege by the teacher for good behaviour in class. The third, experience points (XP) permits the characters to level up and get power. For example, finding a mistake in class notes or even giving a correct answer t a question in class. With the amount of points given by the teacher on the website it gives student experience points. The last one, gold points (GP) is money with which they can buy what they need, for example powers or even a new gear. When players are about to die, their partners have to share points with them to keep them alive, because they need all teammates to finish the game. The fact that they are in teams is very helpful and interesting, as stated by Joseph Pang, a grade 7 teacher of English: ”One of my best moments from implementing Classcraft was seeing one of my most disengaged and socially awkward students working together with his teammates to complete quests”.

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There are three different types of characters: Warrior, Mages and Healers, which can be either male or female. The website doesn’t have many restrictions on the amount of powers given to each characters, there are basic settings but the teacher can modify the points. For example, a Warrior has more HP points and less AP points, the teacher can decide to give more HP than AP or even make them equal. As oppose to Class Dojo where the avatars are assigned randomly, here students can choose which or the three they want, the sex as well as their skin color.

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ClassCraft is good for an ESL classroom, because often it is a class that students don’t think it is important to attend, but if they know that when they are absent they penalize their students, they will be more motivated to come. The expectations are clear to the students because everything is written on the classes craft. It can be useful in the way that each time a student speaks in their first language they lose points, but also the other way around. This will motivate students to speak the target language. It is useful in any type of class, of course it was not created simply for ESL courses. It has the advantage of having the possibility to schedule the game from one month to a full year. It is user friendly, by letting the teach enter each students by important a spread sheet list, instead of one by one on Class Dojo. Cite his SS reaction. It is useful for ESL teachers because you can create your own lesson, writing in both the first language and second. I created myself a classroom and a lesson. When you create the lesson you choose the title and give a description, then you decide how many XP(points) students’ get for doing this particular activity.

Overall, it is an interesting website, but you have to look a lot before finding all that you can use.I like the fact that it is not too childish and that it can be for both elementary and secondary, therefore you don’t have to work on 2 different classroom management websites if the year after you have a contract in the other age category. It is very useful to get the students attention and make them want to be in class. Students seem to pay more attention and participate when there are points given. Jeff Noonan, an experienced ESL teacher, made a conference at SPEAQ on Campus ULaval, in which he gave comments on his students’ response: ”they respect the games rules which helped with classroom behaviour because I was not the one enforcing discipline, the game was” – Noonan. Yes it is a very interesting website, but once again today people complain that children spend all their time on video games. Therefore, it is once again making them connect and play with a video games. But, if we forget all this, yes it is very useful for teachers.

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