All posts in Motivation

New Challengers Approach!

Ah. Smell that? It’s the smell of a new school year wafting on the summer breeze. Now that I’m done making you guess smells I feel it’s only fair to give you a new ClassRealm update. As I am a teacher first and blogger second I will try my darndest to update you fine folks who read this blog (all seven of you) on a regular basis. As I mentioned, a new school year is upon us and with new school years come new students. As a young teacher without many years of experience I haven’t dealt with every kind of student yet, but let me tell you – this year’s class is WAY different from last year’s.

Here’s the good part. They love ClassRealm. I introduced them to the system during the second week of school and they are having a blast. The one aspect that really seems to be driving their frenzy for XP and achievements is the new team mentality I have instilled in my paper system. Last year ts was every student’s dream to beat the others and become top dog. This year it’s all about reaching the goal together and sharing in the journey. Student’s literally applaud others for gaining levels and earning achievements. Fantastic stuff!

The two students I have dubbed “Level Trackers” keep a close eye on the combined level of the classroom and are constantly updating the other students on their advancements. Though XP was a big deal last year, it has taken an even more commanding lead with this particular class. Achievements are more like surprises this time around, which is actually a nice change.

Last year my students latched on to the writing achievement and piled on story after story. I was sure this would be the case again, but the achievement of choice this year appears to be the “Book Worm”. Students are reading constantly! It’s wonderful. Today one of my students asked if she could take home some of the ClassRealm Book Overview sheets to fill out over the holiday weekend and I told her to pick some up on her way out. But she couldn’t. Because the stack I had left there had been used up. Best. Problem. Ever.


Check back soon for more ClassRealm updates!

Bertoli out.

A Winner is You! Competition in the Classroom

Kids love winning. Then again, who doesn’t? Winning is a great feeling even if there was nothing on the line. I can win a game of pick up basketball and ride that sense of accomplishment all day. It’s even better if the game wasn’t a complete blow out. That means I defeated a worthy opponent! What a wonderful feeling! Then again, if I lost it’s no big deal. It was just a game of basketball after all.

One day whist playing Mario Kart Wii online I saw that I was up against a player who’s level was at 9999. Maxed out! My only thought was that he was one of the best or most dedicated Mario Kart players in the world. I beat him. Skidded past him at the finish line after he was taken down by a blue shell. I was elated! I took pictures! I called my parents (ok, I didn’t do that). Point being, I got nothing out of that race except some experience points and self satisfaction.

Students want this feeling in the classroom. They love to compete with their friends and see who can out do one another. I’m not really talking about grades. Although many students compare grades during the school week it’s not something they really brag about. Getting an A on your science test isn’t as cool as hit that game winning shot in double over time. ClassRealm is still going strong in my classroom and the aspect of competition hit a dizzying high this week. My three top level students decided they were going to out write, out read, out participate, and out help each other. In other words they were pushing themselves to be the top in the class, level wise. My other students caught on instantly and began pushing themselves as well. What do they get for all this hard work they are putting in? Tallies on a sheet. Levels that won’t matter in a months time. What they don’t realize is that this competition is motivating them to do better, to do more. They may go on to 7th grade and forget all about ClassRealm (I hope not…), but one of those papers they wrote, one of those books they read, one of those times they participated to earn an experience point may prove beneficial. That’s the kind of competition you want in school. One with an outcome that seems menial later on, but pushes students to improve. The best part is that they’re all winners, they just don’t know it.

Keeping Track of Tracking

If there is one educational aspect that most video games are good at it’s keeping track of things. You never have to worry that you left your iron boots in the forest temple, they’re always right there in your inventory. All your weapons, move-sets, experience points, achievements, items, health and magic are only a few clicks away. Video games are made to show you what you have and what you need to get. They put everything in your world on display. ClassRealm strives to be this system in real life.

A huge part of teaching is the ability to interpret data and use it to your advantage. If your class just scored an average of 40% on your last math test, you may want to reteach the entire section. Hard data is the best way for teachers to see where they are and are not making progress. It shows students weak points, and that is extremely importnat. As a teacher, my job is to turn students weak points in to their strong points, or at least get them up to par with others in their grade. Ideally we want to make student proficient at everything! Math, reading, language arts, science, social studies, art, gym, health, music – students need to have a solid understanding of all these concepts.

Let me be perfectly honest, tracking everything school related can be a pain. Assignments, tests, attendance and participation are just some of the data teachers must track daily. It’s time consuming and some times painstakingly complicated. With ClassRealm we want to give teachers the chance to track their class data in the simplest way possible. Easy to input. Easy to access. Easy to read. A map to your world.

When implemented, ClassRealm adds experience points and achievements to the classroom mix. I won’t lie, it hasn’t exactly been a cake walk to track all of my students different achievements and daily XP. I’m doing it all on paper and then putting it in a spreadsheet, so it takes some extra time. The ClassRealm site set-up will make this all flow much smoother and even give me reports on students who are struggling or aren’t being pushed to their full potential. ClassRealm is being built to help, not hinder, a teachers daily classroom procedures. I just wish I had it now…

Innovation in Motivation: Part Two

Welcome back to the ClassRealm blog, the best (and only) blog about ClassRealm, the up-and-coming classroom management tool built by teachers and gamers alike. In Part One of Innovation in Motivation I briefly touched on why gamers play games and how the gaming mentality applies to many students in this day and age. Today I’ll be talking about the epic battle between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Let’s get to it.

Intrinsic Motivation is motivation that comes from within, hence the prefix “in”. It’s motivation that is driven by your enjoyment of the activity and not to achieve some physical reward or outcome. Confidence is a huge part of intrinsic motivation, if you aren’t confident you probably aren’t accomplishing a task purely out of enjoyment.  Students who have intrinsic motivation are those who want to learn simply to gain knowledge, as opposed to getting good grades. It is hard to find students who have intrinsic motivation in grades K-12, not to say they don’t exist. This being said, all teachers should strive to make their students intrinsic learners.

Extrinsic motivation is motivation that is influenced by external outcomes. External rewards include report cards, trophies, money, and not getting in trouble. One does things, not because they enjoy it, but because they want a specific outcome. Sadly, most people in the world are pushed by extrinsic motivation when it comes to their jobs. They do it simply to get the money and buy what they need to live. Most (not all) students are also pushed by extrinsic motivation. They work hard, show up on time and are kind to others because it will ultimately pay off with that perfect report card, a compliment from the teacher, or the admiration of classmates. Many believe extrinsic motivation leads to overjustification, the mentality students can get when they believe they should be rewarded for everything they do. Overjustification can lead to a severe lack of intrinsic motivation in the future, though not all extrinsic motivation causes this.

So. Intrinsic good. Extrinsic bad. Right? Not entirely. Although ultimately I want my students to become intrinsic learners, the thought that they will reach that mental state on their own is unrealistic. Students are shaped by the world around them. Their parents, their teachers, their friends – all factors that affect who they are and who they become. I believe students need an extrinsic push, one that promotes knowledge as well as gives students their desired outcome. In my mind extrinsic motivation can lead to intrinsic motivation over time.

Example Number One – When I was little I would read books for school assignments and in the summer because there was a reading program at my local library where one could win prizes for completing books. I read because I wanted a good outcome, an A on my report card or an awesome prize from the library. Eventually I realized that I didn’t care so much about the prizes and grades and that reading could open my mind to new worlds (and other cliché phrases you see on posters). To this day the majority of my reading is for enjoyment, but I may have never gotten to this point had it not been for the extrinsic factors dealing with reading.

Example Number Two – I ran track in middle school, high school, and college. Why did I run? I wanted to beat the other kids! I wanted to get medals and ribbons!  Track has brought me years of teamwork, friendship and priceless memories, but that’s not why I wanted to run originally. As time progressed running became more about the enjoyment I felt than the medals I received. I don’t run competitively any more, but I still run. I run because it makes me happy.

Does ClassRealm offer extrinsic motivation? Yes, it does. Is that a bad thing? No, it isn’t. Extrinsic motivation can be used for good. It can be used to point students in the right direction early on in life. As students mature, their minds are able to grasp new concepts, subconscious concepts like the fact that learning is its own reward. We just need to push them there. This is why ClassRealm, although full of extrinsic motivation, is about the quest for knowledge. Putting students on the right path isn’t hard, you just have to give them the right map.

Innovation in Motivation: Part One

Why do gamers play video games? Why do gamers beat video games? Why do gamers buy video games? Motivation. But what motivates gamers to do these things?

Pride – When you complete a game all you get is a virtual trophy, a high score, or possibly an alternate ending. Even though these rewards aren’t physical they still push players to obtain them. Achievements in video games are a source of pride. Sure, it took you hours and hours to get that one achievement, but you can show it off to all your online buddies. I caught all 150 original Pokemon in the late 90’s, and I told everyone I knew, even if they didn’t care.

Competition – Video games are usually more fun in a group. I am an avid Super Smash Bros enthusiasts, and let me tell you, it’s more fun with friends. Hundreds of games, from iPod to Playstation 3, feature online play or online leader-boards. Friendly competition is best of all, because you get to share in your friends victories.

Fun – Another reason gamers game is purely for entertainment. It’s fun! I love my life and everyone in it, but it’s still exciting to step in to Link’s boots and rescue Zelda. I can’t run around with a sword slaying enemies and collecting rupees in real life without the local police getting involved, so I pick up a wiimote and escape in to the world of Zelda. Many students don’t want to be at school. They may not hate it, but they’d rather be elsewhere. Why not make school a place where students want to be? Learning can be fun, but so can just about every other aspect of school. Even when the material is less than desirable in the students eyes you can still make them strive to learn.

ClassRealm is about motivating students. Rewarding them for good deeds and hard work. Making them want to learn. They will gain achievements and experience points that only exist in ClassRealm. You don’t have to bestow a crown on them or honor them in parade, they get a virtual medal that they can be proud of. Like gamers, most students like the feeling of achievement and strive to reach their personal goals, whether they be athletic, social, or educational. Take yourself back to 6th grade. You just got all A’s on your report card! You also earned the “Ultimate Badge of Awesome Excellence”! Which one of those are you going to brag to your friends about? ClassRealm puts a fun and magical face on normal classroom rewards. Whether students are pushed by pride, competition or fun is up to them, the important aspect is that students want to learn and they continue to learn. Making school attractive to students is one of our biggest goals.

Look for part two later this week where I will delve in to “Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic” motivation.