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


Adventures in #Gamification : Prologue

In the following series of posts, I am going to document some of my ideas and thoughts regarding Gamification in my classroom.

To set the scene for what follows I thought it would be useful to explain a bit about the classes I teach. Currently, I teach ICT (or Computing if you must) in a Prep school. I teach all year groups from Year 1 up to Year 8 and I see each class for either 40 or 60 minutes each week.

I have dabbled with the idea of Gamification but now feel ready to embrace the idea fully and so I intend to try some ideas out over the rest of this academic year so that I have something in place to launch in September.

As always, I welcome any feedback to any of the ideas that follow. If you have tried gamifying your classroom then please let me know and share any experiences, positive or negative.

Many thanks.

The game will begin shortly…


This term Year 8 will be designing, producing and promoting their own magazines and as I way of modelling the process to them I have decided to have a go at creating my own magazine.

The idea I am developing is for a magazine entitled STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) which will feature interesting articles on those subjects, aimed at a KS2/KS3 audience, with the strapline “A Curious Magazine for Curious Minds”. For the first issue, I have gone with an Alice in Wonderland theme as Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym of the mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (and it is my own children’s current favourite film (Tim Burton not Disney)).

I am currently putting together articles that are loosely connected to the world of Wonderland such as a section on shrinking (Science Fiction films featuring Shrinking, Data Compression and “What would happen if the moon was shrunk as in Despicable Me?) and growing (THe Science of the 50ft Woman, timeline of the world’s tallest buildings and the expanding Universe).

I am now imagining this as a termly magazine that could be printed using and sent to school libraries around the country. It would be awesome if other people would be interested in contributing so if you have any ideas of articles you or your students could contribute to a sciencey, techy, mathsy magazine then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Password Security

As part of their Unit of Work on e-Safety and Cyber-Security children in Year 8 have just completed a lesson on Password Security.

We talked about why strong passwords are important and discussed what would make a weak password.

I then gave the children the following examples of “weak” passwords and PINs and asked the children to identify the historical figure these fictional login details referred to.

Password = jubilee
PIN = 1897

Password = eagle
PIN = 1969

Password = kittyhawke
PIN = 1903

Once the children had identified Queen Victoria, Neil Armstrong and The Wright Brothers they then used this site to select a random person and then created “weak” passwords and PINs for each one (developing research skills on the way).

How Secure Is My Password was then used to see how long it would take to crack each of these weak passwords.

The children then used this site to generate random words and using the initials of their random celebrities, created stronger passwords.

Queen Victoria = QuarrelsomeVolleyball (861 QUADRILLION YEARS)
Neil Armstrong = NauseatingArguments (318 TRILLION YEARS)

The children thoroughly enjoyed the task and it made them think about how secure their own passwords were.

Commendations Policy

The fictional Leach Primary School (motto = Create / Discover / Learn) has recently updated it’s Commendation Policy…
Commendations are awarded to children who demonstrate two or more of the following key qualities. These qualities are divided into two categories. The first set is concerned with the child as a person, a friend, a citizen while the second set relates to the child as a learner, a student.

A Leach Primary School pupil is:

Set 1:

  • Inquisitive
  • Resilient
  • Imaginative
  • Collaborative
  • Thoughtful
  • Practical
  • Craftsmanlike
  • Sceptical
  • Adaptable

Set 2:

  • Kind
  • Gentle
  • Honest
  • Considerate
  • Empathetic
  • Confident
  • Ecological
  • Decisive
  • Responsible

(If you have any further suggestions about what should be added to these sets then please leave a comment below. Thanks)

So, a child may be awarded a Commendation for demonstrating resilience, creativity and curiosity. These qualities are then recorded in the child’s online portfolio and if they subsequently receive another commendation for their resilience then they ‘Level Up’ for this quality. These awards are shared with parents via the child’s online portfolio and they form a key part of our reporting process.

Our Reporting Policy is due to be published soon.

ASK Learning Objectives

For the remainder of the Summer Term I am going to trial a new system in which I will give the children three Learning Objectives at the beginning of each lesson. These will be stuck in their books and referred to at the start of each lesson.

These objectives will fall into the following three categories:

  1. Application – what are the children going to create / discover / learn?
  2. Skills – what skills are the children going to develop in order to achieve this?
  3. Knowledge – what knowledge are the children going to acquire in order to achieve this?

The Application objective (how the skills and knowledge will be applied) is designed to be the hook that engages the children, gives context to the lesson and connects the dots between previous and future lessons.

For example…

To successfully complete this lesson…

  • …you will generate a name for your fictional country.
  • …you will create and share new folders and files in Google Drive.
  • …you will define the terms algorithm, variable and function.