Author: Chris Leach

Knowledge Organisers

Here is my first draft at putting together a Knowledge Organiser for my Year 4 Computing class.

Their #intergalactICT project will see them designing their own droids. Starting with an empty box they will decide upon which input and output devices their droid will have, followed by ports and storage devices.

The Knowledge Organiser will act as a point of reference for the children.



Adventures in #Gamification: The Wheel of Fortune

As a reward the pupil who scores the most points in their class in any one week wins the chance to spin the Wheel of Fortune. For Year 7, and their Zoo Tycoon inspired gamified project in which they are earning points in order to “purchase” animals for their virtual zoos, their wheel of fortune features the following choices:

  • Myxamotosis – you lose all your rabbits
  • +10 points
  • Congratulations you have won a goldfish!
  • Escaped Wild Cat!! you lose one of your Big Cats.
  • +10 Team Bonus
  • Zoo Transfer – give someone else one of your most valuable animals
  • Great news – Baby!! If you had 2 of an animal you now have 3
  • Compare the Meerkats – Swap your Meerkat collection with someone else.

This happens at the very beginning of the lesson and is simply a mechanism to ensure all children arrive as promptly as possible – as well as being an added motivation to do well.



Adventures in #Gamification : Lifejackets

In video games, a “lifejacket” is a mechanism that enables weaker players to “keep afloat” – in other words, it offers all players the opportunity to still win the game. One well-known example of this is Bullet Bill in the Mario Kart series. When a player is transformed into Bullet Bill they are then able to move incredibly fast and as a result, can overtake many other players. This mechanism is used to keep all players engaged in the game as it means even if you have crashed off the track several times, you still have the opportunity of Bullet Bill rocketing you to the front.

I have introduced a simple “lifejacket” for my Year 7s to ensure that no-one gets left too far behind in the game. Quite simply, the child who scores the lowest number of points in any particular week receives a Double Up bonus for the following week – the intention being that this will motivate them to try harder the following week in order to maximise their points.

So far in the first weeks of introducing this mechanic, it has worked exactly as I had hoped, with children being motivated to try much harder in the subsequent lesson. Some children have said, “what if I deliberately score badly?”, but firstly, this would be incredibly hard to do deliberately and secondly, I award the scores and I would know if a child was deliberately trying to throw their points away.

I will keep you updated as this experiment progresses.

Adventures in #Gamification : Resources

civresourcesI am currently experimenting with gamification ideas with my Year 5 ICT classes. As part of their year-long #HereBeDragons project the children have created their own fictional country as part of the Mythical Land of Ict. As a result my gamification ideas have been influenced by world-building games such as Sid Meier’s Civilization.

In every lesson, the children earn Experience Points (XP) by demonstrating skills, knowledge and understanding as well as their attitude towards their learning. One of the game mechanics I plan on introducing next Half Term is the idea of buying and trading resources. I have created a list of 10 items that the children can purchase with their XP – the idea is that the first five minutes of the lesson will be Trading Time in which the children can spend the XP they earnt in the previous lesson. Hopefully, this will motivate the children to get to lesson on time (they move between classrooms to see specialist teachers like in a secondary school) but I am also hoping that the idea of trading will inspire collaboration between nations and I plan on introducing bonuses for children who offer “Aid” to less-developed countries.

The Mythical Land of Ict is split into three islands representing the three classes and each nation is affiliated to one of the four Houses (getting into Game of Thrones territory here) – as a result the children should hopefully want to make their island the most powerful and wealthy as well as working on behalf of their House. I will offer bonuses for Trading between islands and neighbouring countries etc.

The 10 items I have on my list are:

  1. Wood
  2. Stone
  3. Coal
  4. Wool
  5. Wheat
  6. Iron
  7. Cotton
  8. Silver
  9. Gold
  10. Diamond

The idea of introducing Resources means I can use these in different ways. For example, once a nation has acquired 5 units of wood they unlock the Apprentice Carpenter Citizen – after 10 units their carpenter is upgraded to Intermediate and after 15 to Master Carpenter.

Bonuses can also be built into lessons so children could earn extra units of Gold or Iron – or they could win an Alchemy Spell that allows them to turn any item into a unit of Gold.

What if they could then combine items to build other things in the style of a Minecraft crafting table or games such as Little Alchemy

Next Level – – Houses

Adventures in #Gamification : Player Attributes

In many computer games, the player’s character has a set of attributes that indicate how well the character will cope in certain situations. Below is an example from World of Warcraft:


These attributes can then change during the game depending on how successful the player is at certain challenges or simply due to bonuses and power-ups they collect during the game.

Applying this Mechanic

I have been working on a list of Key Qualities we would expect an effective learner to be able to demonstrate. After much research and deliberation, I have narrowed this down to a list of sixteen qualities: eight of which refer to academic skills and the rest relate to social and personal qualities.

So each “player” in my “game” would have these eight academic qualities as their character attributes. These qualities are:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Imagination
  3. Resourcefulness
  4. Resilience
  5. Diligence
  6. Logic
  7. Collaboration
  8. Reflection

Every Player starts the Game with all attributes set to 0. In each lesson (“Level”) of the Game they can claim one of the 8 bonuses (they have to be able to justify their claim and provide evidence if necessary – getting a pencil from someone else because you have forgotten yours is not being Resourceful). If the Gamemaster (me) accepts their claim they are awarded the Bonus and their score goes up. To tie in with other aspects of the game there are three levels of bonus (Apprentice, Intermediate and Master) worth 1, 2 or 3 XP respectively. This means that after each level the players attribute scores can increase.

They collect tokens each time they are awarded a bonus and once they have collected a certain amount of tokens for each attribute, or have completed a set of tokens then they will receive another reward.

Next Level – – Resources



Adventures in #Gamification : Hurt Me Plenty


Hands up if you recognise the game?

Imagine if your children could choose their skill level in your lessons – objectives could be differentiated and tasks of increasing difficulty offered. Each Skill Level would reward pupils with an increasing number of points – maybe offer points simply for choosing a higher level (for being ambitious). These skill levels could be named things such as Private, Captain, Major or Cabin Boy, First Mate and Captain depending on the narrative.


Next Level = Player Attributes

Adventures in #Gamification : The Crystal Maze

crystalmazeIn the recently relaunched TV game show, The Crystal Maze, the contestants are pitted against a series of challenges, whilst navigating their way through different zones.

In each zone, the contestants are asked what type of challenge they would like to face and they have four categories to choose from: physical, mental, skill and mystery.

I was reminded of these challenges earlier today when I was thinking about the types of lessons I teach. Sometimes the lesson is a skills-based lesson in which the focus is on the children developing a particular skill, or set of skills, and then applying them in order to complete the task. Others are knowledge heavy, some a combination of both skills and knowledge and then on a few occasions the actual objective of the lesson is kept a mystery from the pupils as part of the aim of the lesson is for the children to discover the objective themselves. This made me think of the different lessons as different challenge types (cue the Crystal Maze connection), and these were:

  1. Skill
  2. Knowledge
  3. Hybrid
  4. Mystery

This then led me to think of each type of lesson as a different genre of video game:

  1. Skill = Action
  2. Knowledge = Strategy
  3. Hybrid = Adventure
  4. Mystery = Puzzle

Applying this idea:

In every lesson the children receive an “Adventure Sheet” that details the lesson’s objectives and the key things the children need to achieve in order to be successful (Success Criteria). At the top of each sheet, there could be a symbol to indicate what type of lesson they are about to undertake.

For example:

The children could then earn Knowledge or Skill points depending on the type of lesson and it would also help me keep a balance between the Skills content and Knowledge-based content of my curriculum.

Also, imagine a situation in which children could select the type of lesson they wanted to complete (this could be due to the specific activity they undertake) but knowing that they have to complete an even balance between the four categories.

Next Level = Difficulty Ratings