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Edtech Advocacy &
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Leveling Up: Embracing a Schoolwide Culture of Gamification

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Monday, June 24, 11:00 am–1:00 pm
Location: Posters: Level 4, Terrace Ballroom Lobby, Table 24

Stephanie Foster   Katie Galgano   Matthew Maloney   Brian Mitchell  
Hear the story of how Howard High School of Technology immersed itself in gamification within staff professional development, individual classrooms and schoolwide initiatives. The school's gamification journey began in 2017-2018 with professional development and has since blossomed to include gamified classrooms and SAT prep programs.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers, Professional developers
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Game-based learning and gamification
ISTE Standards: For Administrators:
Excellence in Professional Practice
  • Allocate time, resources and access to ensure ongoing professional growth in technology fluency and integration.
For Coaches:
Visionary Leadership
  • Contribute to the development, communication and implementation of a shared vision for the comprehensive use of technology to support a digital age education for all students.
For Educators:
  • Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
Related exhibitors: Writable

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, Delaware has turned to gamification as a solution to many challenges we have faced in our context. The 2017-2018 school year was our sixth year of being 1:1 with iPad devices, and we realized that traditional professional development structures would no longer meet the needs of our very mixed-ability staff. Thus, we turned to gamification as a way to infuse differentiation and choice into our professional development on instructional technology. The success of our gamified PD has inspired our school to embrace gamification as a solution to other challenges as well. In one of our career and technical classrooms, a teacher is using gamification to reinforce professional standards such as good attendance and collaboration. In other classes, teachers are using gamification to increase motivation and engagement within lessons or units where students have traditionally struggled. Lastly, our SAT prep classes for 10th and 11th graders turned to gamification to incentivize consistent use of Khan Academy to achieve proficiency on SAT topics. As a result of attending our session, participants will be able to identify challenges and areas of need within their own school contexts that gamification could benefit. They will develop plans for how to utilize gamification as a solution to those challenges and hopefully begin to design a method for delivering the game, such as through a learning management system.

Supporting research

Karl Kapp, a professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University, is a leading expert in gamification, particularly for adult learners. He co-founded The Wisdom Learning Group, which consults with companies from around the world in order to develop game-based learning for adults. His findings on gamification’s positive effects on adult learners are published in books such as “Play to Learn.” Much research also exists surrounding how gamification benefits students. ISTE authors, such as Michele Haiken, have written about this topic. On January 5, 2017, Haiken wrote “5 ways to gamify your classroom,” which is now published on the ISTE website. In her article, Haiken notes that students learn a great deal of problem-solving skills from games and that they also gain actionable feedback while playing. She explains that when student fail to “level up,” they do not give up but instead are motivated to push forward and learn from their mistakes. All of these are positive learning attributes that any school would wish for its students to exhibit. Gabe Zicherman, who specializes in gamification in K-12 settings, was cited in “Gamification in Education” (Kiryakova, Angelova, & Yodanova) as saying that the use of game mechanics can improve students’ ability to learn new skills by 40% (p. 1). “Gamification in Education” goes on to explain that gamification can be a particularly effective tool where engagement and motivation are low, which was certainly the case with our SAT prep program. These researchers are just the tip of the iceberg in a wealth of literature that supports using gamification to motivate, to engage, and to inspire grit within both adult and student learners.

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Stephanie Foster, Howard High School of Technology
Katie Galgano, Howard High School
Matthew Maloney, Howard High School of Technology
Brian Mitchell, New Castle County Vo-Tech SD

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