Get ready for ISTELive 21! Launch the site now.
Edtech Industry
Network Summit
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Oceanus: The Gamifying of My Middle School ELA Classroom

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Wednesday, December 2, 4:30–5:30 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Melissa Bazner  
Explore how one teacher transformed a seventh-grade English language arts class into a game. Discover how the yearlong game empowered students to take control of their own learning on the deserted island of "Oceanus." Walk away with tools and techniques to gamify your own classrooms.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: QR code reader
Topic: Games for learning & gamification
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: Language arts
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.
For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
Related exhibitors:
, Breakout EDU
, Google, Inc.
, Newsela
, Edpuzzle
, Quill
, Words Liive
, Cisco Systems, Inc.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participants will learn about the balance needed in a secondary classroom (rigorous instruction vs. game activities) to make gamification workable and productive.
Participants will learn about how to 'onboard' students into their games to ensure maximum engagement.
Participants will learn about using power-ups and items to enhance their games.
Participants will learn about the benefits of a gamified environment (social-emotional learning, inclusivity, differentiation).
Participants will be encouraged to embrace joy within their classrooms.
Participants will learn how to create game procedures that are self-sustaining and require only minimal maintenance.
Participants will hear testimony from students about the impact of gamification on their learning.
Participants will learn how to empower students to control their own learning through the gamified environment.


I. Life Raft: The Onboarding (5 minutes)
a. Participants will participate in a brief activity like the one my students use to join my game.
b. The principles of 'onboarding' as a technique will be discussed.

II. Oceanus: The Narrative (10 minutes)
a. Participants will hear about the creation process for the narrative I constructed.
b. Participants will spend a few minutes processing and brainstorming for their own narratives with a small group.
c. Participants will learn about the importance of the "magic circle" in gamification.

III. Tech Tools: The Management Systems (20 minutes)
a. Participants will join a special Classcraft class and design their avatars as Mages, Warriors, or Healers.
b. Participants will learn about how to create and maintain a leaderboard with Google Forms, Google Sheets, and Glide.
c. Participants will fight in a boss battle and experience a sentence (consequence) and healing within the Classcraft system.

IV. Playtime: The Games & The Items (15 min.)
a. Participants will play a GooseChase game to gather ideas about how to use games in their curriculum.
b. Participants will explore aspects of other games (digital and physical), like Breakout EDU, Gimkit, and Jenga.
c. Participants will share and gather ideas for 'power-ups' and collectible 'items' within their games.

V. Payoff: The Students (10 min.)
a. Participants will hear testimony from students about how the game has affected their learning.
b. Participants will view work products and video evidence to see gamification in action in a secondary classroom.

Supporting research

Blass, Lindsey, and Cate Tolnai. Power up Your Classroom: Reimagine Learning through Gameplay. International Society for Technology in Education, 2019.
Cassie, Jonathan. Level up Your Classroom: the Quest to Gamify Your Lessons and Engage Your Students. ASCD, 2016.
Chou, Yu-kai. Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. Octalysis Media, 2017.
Farber, Matthew. Game-Based Learning in Action: How an Expert Affinity Group Teaches with Games. Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2018.
Farber, Matthew. Gamify Your Classroom: a Field Guide to Game-Based Learning. Peter Lang, 2017.
Haiken, Michele. Gamify Literacy: Boost Comprehension, Collaboration and Learning. International Society for Technology in Education, 2017.
Meehan, John. EDrenaline Rush: Game-Changing Student Engagement Inspired by Theme Parks, Mud Runs, and Escape Rooms. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc., 2019.
Schell, Jesse. The Art of Game Design: a Deck of Lenses. Schell Games, 2014.
Tough, Paul. How Children Succeed: Confidence, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character. Arrow Books, 2014.

More [+]


Melissa Bazner, Southern Middle School

Melissa has been a middle-school English teacher for 25 years. She helped pilot a BYOD program in her school, and now teaches kids who are 1-1 with student Chromebooks. She hates to be bored in school, so she's been gamifying her classroom for the last five years in a variety of ways. Melissa was a co-presenter at ISTE 2019 and is a contributor to an upcoming e-book on gamification. Melissa is an introvert who believes that online conferences are a silver lining from 2020, but she is always happy to discuss gamification.

People also viewed

Engage in VR
Heroes Without Capes
Merging InTASC, ISTE Educator Standards and Tenure/Promotion Criteria: Increasing Faculty Accountability