The Measurement of Success: How Beth Box Thinks of Success in Her Gamified Classroom
Everybody eventually asks, at some point, “Am I better today than I was yesterday?”
According to Beth Box, if the answer is yes, then the person asking has achieved something.
And that’s what this Okeechobee High School teacher and Instructional Technology Coach (and Schoology NEXT 2016 Educator of the Year) wants to instill in her students.
“Instead of measuring themselves against one another, I encourage my students to measure themselves against their own past performance,” Beth says. And one way she’s been able to nurture this introspective growth is by gamifying her course using Schoology.
“I was able to turn my unit plans into quests and my lessons into missions and change the structure of my class,” she says.
The Practices and Benefits of Game-based Learning
Within Beth's educational game, students can measure success based on their own progress. Instead of comparing themselves to the rest of the class, students can focus on improving their individual achievement.
“No one is forced to move lockstep with one another. They don’t attack a new villain, they don’t attack a new concept until they’re ready,” Beth says. “They don’t finish a level until they’ve mastered the objectives of that level, and that’s what good education is.”
"The big challenge is that you have to be on your toes," continues Beth. "All the students are working on something different so you have to have your whole curriculum in your head at any given time. You have to be prepared to give a mini-lecture on absolutely anything."
Given this self-paced mastery method, Beth runs the risk of having some students not make it all the way through the curriculum. When asked about this, she asked, "What's more important, quality or quantity? Is it more important that they cover everything or that they really learn what they get through?"
One key to Beth's success has been her dedication to providing students more personalized feedback. Beth says Schoology It has made it easier for her to identify and directly address students’ weaknesses and directly address them.
“I can be a better teacher because instead of making a whole classroom full of students adjust to me and what I’m trying to do, now I can look at where each of my students is,” she adds. “I can have personal conversations with students about what they’re really struggling with instead of telling them what I think the whole class should know.”
She pointed out how she prefers to provide feedback to her students face-to-face, instead of via a message. "I like it because I still get my lecture jones met (I'm still old-school in my heart!) but the lecture is tailormade for that specific student at that specific moment."
Beth is thrilled to report that her students love the personalized feedback loop she's created. "They feel safe asking for help because they know that's what I'm there for," she explains. "They're not afraid to look stupid because they know I'll initiate the conversation if they fall short of their objective, so there's no harm in asking me for help.
'Plus, it helps me get to know them better and I can respond in a more personalized way. It's mutually beneficial!"
Spreading the Word of Game-Based Mastery Learning
Beth shares her ideas about how to use the LMS with colleagues, encouraging them to take steps to modernize their teaching techniques. If they can get on board with digital discussions, tests, grading, and folders, Beth says, "the sky is the limit!"
“We teachers should be assessing ourselves the same way,” she continues. “If I plan a little more thoughtfully, have a little more patience with that one student, or offer a little more help to my fellow educators, then I'm making a difference.”
It doesn’t matter how many pages a student has read, or where a student’s grade ranks on the bell curve. What matters is that each student is moving forward.
“Achievement is the amazing process of getting better and better,” Beth says. “And it never stops!"