Gamifying My 9th Grade Biology Class

Hi. I’m Brian, and I teach high school science.
Recently, I decided to gamify my classroom management system for my freshman biology class. (Read more about gamifying your classroom at EduRealms here.) Our school mascot is the Hawks, and I admire the grassroots world of Minecraft, so I have dubbed my classroom “World of Hawkcraft.”
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Game Console, a simple Google Site whose URL is posted to the About tab in Google Classroom for all the students to see.
I created this game dashboard using Google Sites. My campus has 1:1 Chromebooks with Google Classroom, so I simply dropped a link to this Google Site into my “About” tab for each class. I created the titles using the free 8-bit style and text editor at textcraft.net.
The entire class period earns an “Egg Point” if the class has, overall, a good day. These Egg Points are indicated by the egg icons on the right; Minecraft players will recognize where I stole the graphic from. To earn an Egg, all or most of the students in the class must meet three expectations:
  1. Ready To Learn: All or most of the class is on time, ready to work with writing utensil, notebook, charged Chromebook, and no visible cell phone. Students shouldn’t ask to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water unless they really need to (and yes, after 19 years working in high schools, I can tell when they really need to).
  2. Act Like A Hawk: All or most of the class shows common courtesy, polite language, and our district’s learning norms (waiting for cues to speak, not blurting answers, using response whiteboards appropriately, , etc. Nothing is thrown.
  3. Keep The Nest Clean: No litter is left behind, no trash is thrown into the recycling bins, no furniture is written on, no plumbing or gas fixtures are messed with, etc.

Classes earn privileges based on what “Level” they have earned. Once a class has earned a level, they cannot lose it, with one exception*** (see below).

Class Levels
Each class period begins the game at Level 0
Level 0 = “Noobs.” No privileges. Sorry, kids, I start the year tough and loosen up later.
Level 1 = “Robins.” Feeding Behavior (food allowed, as long as the nest is kept clean)
Level 2 = “Jays.” Singing Hawk (listen to music with headphones when done with work)
Level 3 = “Hummingbirds.” Thermal (use notebook for 1 min during exam); Updraft (teacher provides 1 clue on one exam question)
Level 4 = “Hawks.” Invisibility (go to restroom ~3 min once per week w/o consequence); Shared Bounty (teacher brings snacks for class)
***Special Rule: At teacher’s Discretion, regardless of Class Level, there may be a “Coyote Attack,” which temporarily removes all class privileges back to Level 0. Class must earn Hawk Point for 2 consecutive days to regain their previous Level.
Individual HP and XP
Individual students earn Health Points (HP) each day. The class level is separate from the student’s HP count, but the two are related. Students earn a daily base level of HP for showing up, and that level increases slightly as the Class Level increases. As the Class “Levels Up,” more privileges get added to the students’ menus. Students must spend some HP every time they use a privilege. (They also lose HP for being tardy, using the restroom, being caught off-task, etc.) On the other hand, with a little luck and effort, students can earn extra HP by making good effort when they are called on during class discussion. I keep track of each student’s HP using ClassDojo, which I update in real time with my iPad as I walk about the classroom while teaching.
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Badges
Students, lab groups, and classes also have the opportunity to earn bonus HP with special badges. Most are awarded at the end of the week, although some can be awarded “on the spot.” I may create additional badges as the year progresses. I got the original idea for badges from Alice Keeler’s blog. I designed this spreadsheet myself using her template as an example.
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Cell Phone Samurai — phone was not visible for the entire week +5HP
Toilet master — returns back promptly from all restroom breaks. +3 HP
Time Lord- effective use of time. Entire week withat no absences, no tardies, no missed deadlines, and no restroom breaks. +5 HP
Dragon Tamer– special badge everyone in class period earns if 80% of students pass an assessment with min score 3 out of 4. +7 HP
Lab Jedi– special badge everyone in a lab group earns if everyone in the lab group earns mininum score of 3 on lab report. +8 HP
Lab Safety — returned class policies; no horseplay; keeps goggles on; reports accidents or spills to teacher promptly +3 HP

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