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Joy Hacks for Any Classroom: Combining Play, Content and Creativity

Explore and create
Pre-registration required

Explore and create : BYOD

Monday, June 24, 9:00–10:00 am
Location: 118A

Michael Matera   Jonathan Spike  
When did teaching lose the JOY? We’ll share everything from standalone activities, tweaks to daily processes, to pedagogical makeovers that will restore JOY to the classroom. The best part? All you need is an open mind, a willing audience and a device to make them happen!

Audience: Coaches, Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Participant accounts, software and other materials: A Google account would help, but is not required, for this session.
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Game-based learning and gamification
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Social studies, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
Global Collaborator
  • Students contribute constructively to project teams, assuming various roles and responsibilities to work effectively toward a common goal.
For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participants will be able to develop standalone activities that engage students through co-learning, real-world application, or pop culture connections.

Participants will be able to layer game elements over content, activities, and assessments to make them more engaging and enhance learning beyond classroom walls.

Participants will be able to weave game-based learning into their practices to provide experiential learning and application-based assessment strategies.

Participants will be able to personalize learning experiences to cater to students’ passions and interests via gamified learner profiles.

One educational challenge we seek to solve is the difficulty of mixing standards-based assessment with recent progress in gamification and game-based learning. Our methods seek to marry these concepts.

We will use high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech strategies to reach these joy hacks. Examples include paper-based character profiles, board and card games, and tech-enhanced assessments.

One model we will employ is the TPACK framework, which seeks to find the best practices of technology integration, pedagogy, and content knowledge in a given learning activity. Our joy hacks combine all three, leveraging the technology implemented to support research-based best practices in teaching and learning, to help reach the skills and content students need to succeed.


(10 Minutes) We will start with a large group joy hack meant to get attendees up and moving, interacting, and practicing valuable soft skills they can then use with students.
(10 Minutes) We will share joy hacks that focus on empowering learners and helping the educator get to know them better, such as role cards and avatars.
(10 Minutes) We will share joy hacks focused on layering gamification elements into class, such as team design challenges and Power-up cards.
(10 Minutes) We will share joy hacks involving game-based learning strategies, such as mini-games and reskinning current games to teach new concepts.
(10 Minutes) We will share joy hacks regarding how to re-imagine assessments with joy in mind, including using build assessments with manipulatives and random inspiration cues.
(5 Minutes) We will try out one of the joy hack assessments with the audience and award winners!
(5 Minutes) We will take audience ideas and questions to share with the larger group.

Supporting research

Explore Like a Pirate by Michael Matera

Gamify Your Classroom: A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning by Matthew Farber

Embracing a Culture of Joy by Dean Shareski

More [+]


Jonathan Spike, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater

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