How to use gamification to make students crazy for math

I was always surprised by watching my daughter work for hours to earn a few extra virtual coins on her latest iPhone game to have enough to purchase a virtual fedora for her virtual avatar. That was of course until I noticed I found myself doing the same thing one day! It is a core part of human nature to feel validation by a clear measurement of our progress with a reward in mind.
Measurement is prevalent in the classroom. Unfortunately, the feedback can take a long time for students to receive. It can take time before a paper is returned, a test is graded, or your average grade for the quarter is given which can make the clear measure of progress a little fuzzy. What we can learn from the games we play is that the faster the feedback, the easier it is to attribute that feedback to a behavior. Formative Loop is a daily math practice. Each day we see our students getting the feedback as to whether they have passed to the next level. This in itself is a reward, and students are driven by it!
Learning from games, we have added a new points system to Formative Loop. This system gives students points for practicing their math skills (5 points) and even more for making progress (10 points when they master a skill). Each day, students will see their total points earned on the top of their practice paper.

Educators then build real-world reward programs off of these points. Having a large array of options is beneficial to the students. Here’s some typical items in the reward system:

  • 100 points – large reward (trip to the treasure box, lunch with the teacher, Hershey kiss from the principal)
  • 50 points – medium reward (line leader, shoes off day, bring a toy from home)
  • 25 points – small reward (get a sticker, choose the story to be read, choose your seat)

You may ask why we give points even when students don’t master a skill.

The reason is, we want the students to feel encouragement even for trying. This is a daily practice, not the final exam. The more engaged in practice our students are, the better the overall outcome will be.

You can also print out copies of our currency template if you want the students to practice with printed money they earn from their points.

We think this is an amazing addition to the program which will continue to build positive momentum with our students. We’d love to hear the rewards you have built around Formative Loop points. Share your stories with!