Monday, October 20, 2014

Gamifying Reading

I've been desperately seeking a way to motivate busy high school students how to read, and after attending the GAfE Summit in San Diego, I developed a series of challenges for students to undertake in their reading but within a game-based experience. 

My goals are these:  

  • Make reading seem special and convince kids that they are lucky to get to do it
  • Make them feel like they are part of an elite group of special students
  • Give them a reward for accomplishing their goals
  • Give them plenty of time to reach those goals so there is no pressure, only positive outcomes
I decided share the challenges to four students to test the waters.  I was not prepared for how they reacted. Every single one of them started taking pictures of my notes on the computer screen, and the question they all asked repeatedly:  Can I start right now?  

Yes, yes you can read.

Because I work at a school called Valhalla and we are the Norsemen, I decided to stay with our school theme. Here are the challenges:

The Gjallarhorn
retweet a Valhalla Library tweet @valhallalibrary
share the Valhalla Tumblr page
write a book review that is shared by 5 people on Tumblr

The Edda
read a book of poetry, various authors
read a book of poetry, one author

The Loki
read a graphic novel
read a romance novel
read a horror/mystery/suspense book
read a banned book

The Bifrost

read all the books in a series (has to be at least three books)
read all the books by one author (has to be more than three books)

The Saga
read a non-fiction graphic novel
read a biography
read an autobiography

The Ullr
read a Michael Printz winning book
read a Mann-Booker Award winning book
read a Pulitzer Award winning book
read a Nobel Prize winning author

The Yggdrassil
read a book longer than 300 pages
read a book longer than 500 pages
read a book longer than 800 pages

Complete 5 Challenges--The Mjölnir Award
Complete all 7 challenges--The Odin Omnireader Award

I'm using GameOn from my coworker Mike Skoko ( as the vehicle to roll out the challenges and to keep track of what each student completes. Once they finish the challenges, they can go through them again at another level (apprentice, master, etc.)

And the reward? Free printing in the library for the school year in which they complete the challenges. When the test group  heard the prize was free printing, they really went bonkers even though they already get free printing.

So, I'll be giving them a prize that's just going to make them more efficient students. I'm cool with that. 

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