When we spiraled into May I saw the Zoom meeting squares fill with faces of frazzled, tired educators ready to get off the roller coaster. That’s when I knew I needed to kick into overdrive and come up with a plan to get us through the last month of the school year. As I looked into their worn-out faces I started to brainstorm ways to add a little energizing fun, self-care, reflection, and friendly competition into the final stretch of this wild ride we’ve been on. Those who know me can probably anticipate what’s coming. Gamified Learning!
I knew it would be tricky to create a gamified plan that tired, frazzled teachers could get excited about, but I was up for the challenge. I started thinking of missions I that would allow for creativity, collaboration, reflection, and self-care. I also wanted to make sure that there were missions that would account for the learning already done, because goodness gracious...there’s been a TON of learning!! Once I had a game plan formulated I shared it with our district superintendent and other district administrators to see what they thought. They were all in, so I decided to make it happen! I called upon my think tank (aka Flame Throwers) in my district for mission ideas and suggestions to to help fine-tune my plan. They were SO helpful!! Within days it was ready to launch! We shared it out in the district staff bulletin and I also posted it on our district staff website. To kick it off our superintendent even created a short video introduction of the challenge to generate excitement. It was awesome!
Here's the Game Plan
Theme: Create Your Own Learning Journey Staff Challenge
Goal: To engage your staff in energizing, fun, and innovative learning
Who: All district staff
Where: All missions are found on Padlet and points are tracked in a Google Spreadsheet.
When: Anytime! This challenge can last as long as you want!
What: Each week, 5 new PD missions are launched. If you choose to accept the mission you will receive experience points (XP) to level up and earn PDU's and an animated badge to display in your email signature!
Level 1: 300 XP = 3 PDU's and badge
Level 2: 600 XP = 6 PDU's and badge
Level 3: 1000 XP = 10 PDU's and badge
Create Your Own Learning Journey Staff Challenge Template
How to Design Your Challenge in Padlet
Once I approve each post in Padlet I immediately transfer the points to a leaderboard that I created in Google Spreadsheets. Thank you to LeVonda Vickery who helped add the formulas for calculating! She made it way cooler than my original spreadsheet. Click on the button below to see how the XP (experience points) are tracked. No video tutorial for this creation, because...well, this is not my specialty.
Updating Missions and Leveling Up
At the end of the week, I change the title of each mission column to "expired" and add 5 new missions in. The expired missions move to the right so the new missions show up first. I send all of the staff members that leveled up a congratulatory email with an animated badge they can download and add to their email signature and wherever else they wish. I created the badge in Canva with dimensions of 100 x 100 px, but you also could create the badges in Adobe Spark, Buncee, or other digital creation platforms. See the examples below. PDU's that are earned when leveling up are submitted at the end of the challenge.
The Possibilities are Endless!
Our challenge is still in progress, but I'm super happy with the results. It has been wonderful to see all of the learning throughout the day as the evidence is posted. I have found so many ideas as I've scrolled through the columns and read all of the reflections. Many have shared that this is just the kind of motivation they needed in the final stretch to get them to the finish line.
Though I launched this challenge for an entire K-12 district of 19 schools, you could launch this for a single school or even in your classroom. The length of the challenge could be as short as a few weeks or last an entire semester or school year. It's really up to you! You can also change the theme, personalize the missions, and add your own special twists and turns! The possibilities are endless!
Reflect on the Wild Ride
As we all raise the safety bar on our roller coaster cars in the next few weeks, I think we are all going to feel a bit dizzy as we try to process what we experienced and learned during this pandemic. There is so much to reflect on and process. Whether or not you create a challenge similar to this one for your own learning community in these final weeks, summer, or next school year, it's important to find ways to reflect and share your learning with others! We are all in this wild and crazy adventure together!
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.