Classroom Game Has Kids Talking

English teacher introduces Classcraft: an interactive classroom tool that allows students to create characters and “level up” while learning.

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Josh Thaler

English teacher Mrs. Newcomer is using the classroom tool Classcraft as a way to motivate students.

Video via Classcraft.com under Creative Commons License

Winter Cunningham, Reporter

For teachers, finding ways to get to keep students engaged in the classroom can be a challenge, especially when students are used to watching Netflix, using Snapchat, and playing games.

One Dallastown teacher has started using a classroom game that allows students to stay focused, engaged and motivated to learn–the game is Classcraft.

“It’s an online game where all students, any grade level, can make a character. Then, as they do things in class that they’re supposed to, they gain XP for their character. They level up, and as they level up they gain the ability to take powers for their character and to protect each other,” English teacher Mrs. Newcomer said.

How did Newcomer find the game?

“It kept popping up on my social media, a couple of years ago and it said oh, you’re a teacher and you like games so you might like this and I decided that I was gonna give it a try.”

According to the Classcraft website, it allows students and teachers to be more interactive with each other, for students to help one another, and perform well academically.

Newcomer has found the site to be effective with her students.

“I think that it adds an additional layer and that it gives kids a difference to look forward to. I think it allows them to see their improvements. They can also gain experience for scoring well on tests and quizzes as their characters level up. They get a visual representation of their progress.” Newcomer said.

One student who enjoyed the game a lot is senior Jackson Brunner.

“I liked Classcraft because you could use it like Kahoot to study for tests/quizzes,” Brunner said.

According the Newcomer, the site isn’t just for English classes.

“I would think that any teacher who wanted to set it up to meet their needs can use it, it’s very customizable. Some of the ideas I came up with completely on my own, and the rest was suggested. So if someone would be on their phone during class, I’d mark it on their class craft character and the character takes damage.”

Although not every student loves the site, overall student reactions have been good.

“For the most part, they’re responding to it pretty positively. There are always one or two student who think it’s juvenile, stupid or say “I’m too cool for this,” but for the most part, kids come in and are excited to use the program,” Newcomer said.

When teachers use an interactive and effective teaching method, they tend to continue to use it because of the positive effect it has on the kids. Newcomer plans to continue with Classcraft for the near future.

“I don’t know about using it for my whole teaching career, but I plan to use it for the foreseeable future until something else comes out or if I want to change the way I do things.”

I really like stories and games and I think just being a little different and being different in a way that makes Mrs. Newcomer, Mrs. Newcomer. So kids come into my room and get a little more of me.”

— Newcomer

But not every educational game is perfect and there are always improvements to be made.

“It’s a little cumbersome sometimes, and I wish the characters could move. They are stationary characters. I think I’d be cool if they did things actual video game characters do like pump their fist a little, smile, or something like that, but otherwise it works for what I need it to work for,” Newcomer said.

Newcomer hopes that doing something fun, interactive, and engaging in the classroom will keep students excited to learn and eager to see what’s next. Mixing things up in the classroom doesn’t just make things fun for her students, but also makes teaching so much fun for her.