. There is something wonderful about the element of mystery. It builds anticipation and excitement for what is to come. Up to this point, the badges I've awarded in my class have all had experience points attached with varying amounts that is visible to them when they earn them. This mechanic has worked really well in my class as students collect badges to reach apprentice, sous chef, and ultimately MasterChef status. However, as I watch my students interact with the game I realized for the first time this past unit that what we were missing was a little mystery.
The magic of a gamified classroom is in adding twists and turns and a little mystery whenever you want. So when this unit started, I threw them a curve ball. I told them that I would be awarding Mystery badges throughout the unit that would each hold an XP amount behind a scratch off sticker. Students would not be able to reveal the scratch off amount until the end of the unit when all the badges are turned in. This little bit of anticipation adds a new excitement to the game! They only can strategize so much, because there is an element of chance that won't be revealed until the end. I knew by my students responses when I revealed this new mechanic, that this was going to bring a whole new dimension to our classroom dynamic. They were excited!
So here is how I made the Mystery badges. I create my badges using Pages on ios. I make each badge the size of a baseball card so students can keep them in a plastic Baseball Card Sleeve. (shout out to @mrmatera for this idea!) I then laminate the page and cut out the badges. Once the badges are laminated and cut, I apply a scratch off sticker to each one. Adding the sticker to a laminated surface allows the badges to be reused by removing remainder of scratch off and applying a new sticker. However, you could apply the sticker directly to a badge printed on cardstock and left unlaminated, it would just prevent them from being reused. Either way works!
The Mystery Badges are kept in a box and when students earn one, they reach in and pick one randomly. The badges hold various amounts of experience points behind the sticker: 250, 500, 1000, and 1500. To make the higher XP a little harder to get, I populate the box with more of the lower numbers incrementally with the fewest badges holding 1500. This balances out the XP and makes it a big deal when the higher amount is revealed. Again, they can't scratch off the amount till the end of the unit, so it adds another layer of suspense!
The beauty of gamification is you don't have to have everything figured out from the get-go! You can add game mechanics to your game as you observe how your students interact with the game. If things get a little predictable, add a new element to mix things up. If certain player types aren't buying in, find a mechanic to bring them on board. YOU are the game designer! Adding twists and turns and a bit of Mystery keeps the game exciting! Who doesn't love a good mystery?!
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.