Classcraft in Eric’s social studies class

image

My name is Eric Hills (@MrEricHills) from Shakopee, Minnesota. I’m a 6th grade social studies teacher, and my students are getting iPads this upcoming school year.

I’m so excited to use Classcraft! The new iPad app looks awesome! I’m really pumped to use a platform that has avatar customization, custom class rules, guilds, and an iPad app to bring it all together. I use project-based learning with my students often, and I love the idea that students will be able to use this with their groups and that it will bring a new level of excitement to my classroom. I can’t wait for September!

As a self-professed nerd, this site not only appeals to me but also will get my kids pumped to be in class each and every day. Keep up the great work!

Want a chance to win all Premium classes for the fall? Enter our contest here, from now through July 31. #ClasscraftRules

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/ersler 

Win Premium classes for the fall!

image

Teachers! There’s lots to get excited about this fall — like our upcoming iOS apps, cool new gear, and of course the many positive changes the game brings to your classroom.

We want to hear what you’re most pumped for and why! Tell us in 100-300 words and you could win an upgrade to all Premium classes for the fall — completely on us.

Here are the rules:

1) Email contests@classcraft.com with your 100-300 word submission. Don’t forget to tell us your full name and where you’re from (for social media purposes). We’ll be looking for the best written, most creative entries. 
2) It’s not mandatory, but feel free to include a photo showing your excitement!
3) Only one entry per person, please.

We’ll display a few of our favorite entries here on our blog throughout July. The deadline for submissions is July 31. We’ll announce the winner on Friday, August 8 and credit his/her teacher account for the fall.

In the meantime, share your excitement about the contest on Twitter by tweeting with hashtag #‎ClasscraftRules‬.

Good luck!

Get Premium fall classes with new annual or monthly payments

Classcraft is pleased to announce that we’re now offering two payment options through our Premium pricing plan:

Teachers who select our Premium plan for the fall can now buy classes through annual or monthly payments. Both will now feature flexible student slots, which means if any students leaves your class during the school year, you can reuse that credit on another student. You also have the freedom to transfer credits to one of your other classes with the same or earlier expiry date.

With the annual option, you can get a full year’s worth of classes for $10/class plus an additional $1 per student slot. That’s good news if you want to play Classcraft with multiple classes!

Our monthly option is ideal for semester-based classes, summer school, or if you begin using Classcraft partway through the year. Teachers can pay in advance for the exact number of months needed (up to 10) — at $10/class plus a monthly charge of $0.10/student slot.

Both of these options apply to the Premium model only. In Premium, teachers have full control over in-game coin distribution, which acts as an extra incentive for students and enables them to unlock customizable gear and pets for their characters. Premium classes will also receive access to our brand-new, beautifully designed iOS app in September.

If you wish to try Classcraft at no charge, our Free and Freemium plans are also available. More info on pricing can be found here.

Got feedback? Email us at wecare@classcraft.com.

A surprise random event in Mr. McQuaid’s class

image

This story about how Classcraft brings teachers and students together was submitted by Darren McQuaid from Seoul, South Korea.

Every day, my grade 7 kids come into class eagerly looking forward to the daily event. The first thing they say as soon as they sit down is, “Mr. McQuaid, let’s do the daily event!” even before I have a chance to open my mouth to greet them all.

The daily events, as everyone knows, contain a great mixture of things that the kids can do. I’ve had some good ones where the Gamemaster, or teacher, has had to sing a song of the students’ choosing (needless to say, it took a while of cycling through music to find one that I knew). Perhaps the best event I remember is for the Gamemaster to choose a song that is at least 15 years old for a student to identify either by name or artist. I was elated as I thought this was a good chance to get a bit of good-natured ribbing in on them (after the endless “Mr. McQuaid, you’re old” ribbing that I had to endure when the students were trying to get me to sing a song that they knew).

The Celestial Selector chose a girl, so I figured I would go the pop route to give her a bit of a chance at getting it. I chose a song that was released in 1990 by NKOTB (New Kids on the Block) by the name of “Step by Step.” I keyed it up on YouTube, turned up the speakers, and pressed play. Low and behold, as soon as it started playing, her eyes lit up and she instantaneously told me the name of the artist and the song.

To my utter surprise, the majority of the class started singing along (in tune, I might add). I was utterly speechless, and all I could do was laugh. Never would I have imagined such an international classroom as mine — with kids from the Middle East, Africa, U.S.A., and other countries in between — would know a song that was popular way before they were born! All I could do was laugh and let “Step By Step” play all the way through.

Share your Classcraft story with us! Submit here.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Alias-Ching

Classcraft is now even more affordable this fall

image

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at Classcraft! This fall, we’ll be offering the game under three plans: Free (the original game), Freemium (web + iOS apps with optional in-app purchases, or IAP), and Premium (web + iOS with no IAP).

To better support as many teachers and schools as possible, we’ve decided to charge only $2 a student under our Premium plan. (Get 10 Premium student credits free by creating an account before September 1, 2014.) Our Freemium plan, which you can learn more about here, will have an individual student spending cap of $5. 

We’ll continue to extensively support teachers using the original web version of the game as well as those who join us on iOS (and later, Android). We encourage teachers to try a combination of plans on a class-by-class basis to make the most of their budget and needs.

We’d love to hear your feedback on these pricing plans. Reach out to us at wecare@classcraft.com. Thanks for your support!

- Stephanie Carmichael
Community & Social Media Manager
stephanie@classcraft.com

Great coverage of Classcraft!

image

We’ve received some awesome coverage lately from publications like CBC Radio’s Spark show, GamesBeat, Kotaku UK, Joystiq, and Geek Mom Mashup.

Check it out!

Classcraft on Spark with Nora Young

Classcraft makes the classroom a giant role-playing game — with freemium pricing

Classcraft is an RPG for Schools That Lets You Stack Lesson Dodging Buffs

Educational software Classcraft to offer freemium pay model

Classcraft Engages Students in Learning Game

5 everyday tips for making Classcraft more exciting

image

Integrating new technology into your classroom takes time. It’s like trying to figure out how a totally unexpected piece fits into a jigsaw puzzle you’ve been assembling — you can see that the big picture is a fuzzy cat with a ball of yarn, but this new piece looks nothing like either of those.

That’s why we’ve worked hard to make Classcraft as easy to learn and adopt as possible. We’re proud when we hear from teachers who have had great success customizing the game for their classroom and building off it in fun, exciting ways that we hadn’t even anticipated.

Classcraft is a little like the butterfly in the jigsaw puzzle — it’s so small and simple, but once you see what it is and where it goes, it really makes the picture come alive. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to see amazing shifts in your classroom, either. Below are five expert tips on how to make Classcraft more exciting every time you play.

Add funny, extreme events

It can be difficult to get students focused at the beginning of class, but starting each day off with a random event is a great trick for getting their minds off the latest gossip and on what you’re about to teach them. We have nearly a hundred events pre-made, but you can customize any of these or create your own. Go nuts — the funnier or more extreme they are, the more kids will love them.

A favorite of ours was made by a teacher: “A Pirate’s Life for Ye” has students addressing the teacher (or “Gamemaster”) as Captain and speaking in pirate accents for the rest of class, or else they lose HP. Another popular event is a classic: In “The Chant of the Master,” the teacher has to sing a song of a student’s choosing. Kids really get a kick out of that one. When class is fun, so is learning.

Award XP for the unexpected

Surprise keeps students on their toes. If there’s a chance they can make something good happen for their team or character, kids will pay more attention in class and work harder to impress you.

Reward them on the fly with XP (Experience Points) for showing positive behavior inside the classroom — such as helping peers with their work or remembering to clean up — as well as outside it, like if the football or soccer team wins a match or students participate in charity events or fundraisers for their school.

Keep the action going

Classcraft can take up as little as five minutes of your class period, but the more involved you are with the game, the more your students will be, too.

Take away or reward HP (Health Points) and XP (Experience Points) as much as possible. Keeping the game going means establishing a visible link between what’s happening in class and what’s happening in the game, and that helps boost students’ participation, motivation, and thus performance.

Integrate quick challenges

Another way to keep students engaged is to invent quick, fun challenges on the spot.

Have a random player answer a question in exchange for XP, or reward the team that can solve the problem the fastest — and get the answer correct to boot. The possibilities for how you make Classcraft a motivating presence in your classroom are endless.

Play around with the powers

Some powers are customizable, meaning you can change their effects to your liking. This is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the most out of the way the game is played.

For example, if you’d rather “Prayer” enable a healer to get the class a bonus question on a test — rather than access his/her notes during an exam — all it takes is a few clicks, and it’s done.

What are your secrets for making Classcraft even more exciting from day to day?


Blog post by community & social media manager Stephanie Carmichael. Classcraft founder Shawn Young consulted on this article.

Want to write a guest post? Pitch to stephanie@classcraft.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/FotoMaximum

Teaching students to be thinkers, not test-takers

image


Guest blog contributed by Nancy Pennick

Tests have become the measuring stick of a student’s educational life. They were supposed to show what the child knew and what topics needed more instruction. When did the test overtake teaching, and why are we letting that happen?

Before all this mandatory testing, my students were great learners. As they took more and more tests, I felt like the creativity was being sapped from them. I noticed it when they were given a writing prompt. If they were stuck, I’d tell them to make something up and assured them it was okay to use their imaginations. After getting the “deer in the headlights” look from their little faces, that’s when I realized what was happening.

We were teaching children to answer questions on a test, not to be creative thinkers. I never taught questions. I taught concepts. I felt like concepts were more useful in life and that knowing them was a much better skill.

My grade-level colleagues got together and decided to do something about it. We tore through the results of an old test and came up with three areas to concentrate on: writing, science, and social studies/citizenship.  We chose our area of expertise based on which class did the best in that area on the test. A block of time was carved out in our schedules and divided into half-hour segments. We would develop a lesson and teach it to all three classes. That way, each teacher had more time to focus on concepts and create interesting ways to present them.

I didn’t have to plan science lessons or find materials for experiments, but they were being taught to my class. I still taught writing skills, but the major objectives, like writing a summary or a form letter, were being presented by another teacher. The end result of our plan was constant high scores in those areas. We were still accountable for reading and math in our own classroom, but we shared ideas.

Teamwork, discussions, and oral reports were used as regular evaluations besides written tests. Children were given a leaf guide in science and asked to find as many leaves as they could outside of class. Classifying and comparing, writing about their findings, and reporting to the class made for a much better way of learning. Sending letters to a favorite person, such as a local celebrity, made the writing process real. Dividing the class into four wards of a city and having students campaign and run for council positions brought the governmental process to life. Each teacher found ways for children to learn concepts without paper-and-pencil quizzes and questions.

Recently, I was invited to a high school speech class as a guest speaker. I was a little early, and the teacher was finishing up her English class. They were taking a test. At the end of the period, she started collecting the tests, reminding the students that it was a big part of their grade. She said the tests would be sent to the board office and graded there. That sounded pretty scary to me. One giant test they worked on for a few periods would be most of their grade.

The pendulum has swung too far in one direction. The system isn’t giving students a fair, balanced education. Until there is one, what can be done? Encourage students to follow their endeavors outside the classroom — keep notebooks full of poems and sketch pads of art. Attend community artistic events and talk with people in those professions. Take classes outside of school. Do research on the Internet. Do anything to keep the creative side of the brain working overtime. Don’t let the tests get you down.

After a great career in teaching, Nancy Pennick found a second calling as a writer. Born and raised in northeast Ohio, Nancy currently resides in Mentor, Ohio, with her husband and their college-age son.

Want to write a guest post? Pitch to stephanie@classcraft.com

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/crs2

Big changes are coming

image

A message from Classcraft’s community manager:

Classcraft is special. In fact, I’ve come onboard so I can help spread the word about just how special it is — and what it will mean for classes in 2014.

My name is Stephanie Carmichael, and I joined Classcraft’s team last month as a former games journalist. I’ve always loved sharing cool and exciting projects with my audience, and now that’s you: the teachers and students who are among the first to use Classcraft, a role-playing game that makes learning any subject fun.

I left college years ago, but throughout my school career, I longed to bring my passions into the classroom. I wanted to connect to what I was learning in a way that felt personal to me. That’s when I started writing about my favorite things (like video games and comics) and incorporating them into my academic experience with a little creative experimenting — a paper here, an independent study there. I can say firsthand that it’s possible to own your education and make it fun while strengthening grades and opening the door to fantastic opportunities.

That’s what makes Classcraft so important (and why I believe in it): It fosters a love of learning in a way that’s simple and accessible for everyone. What’s more, it inspires kids to work together, no matter how different they are, and view a world of possibilities in the classroom and beyond. We’re seeing fascinating results from around the globe (in over 30 countries), and we’re excited to hear more stories from you.

Below are some of the amazing features that we’ll be unrolling this fall:

Free iOS apps. Students and teachers can check Classcraft anytime from their mobile device.

• Gear and pets. Students will be able to customize the appearance of their characters and even adopt pets!

• German and Spanish localizations. Classcraft is already available in French and English, but more language options are on the way.

Beautiful new illustrations. New designs and much more to love!

• In-class interactive forums. Now teachers and students can discuss lesson plans and homework together in the game.

• Intuitive new design. Easier to play and understand.

You have a vital role in shaping the future of Classcraft. Reach out to wecare@classcraft.com with questions, feedback, or suggestions anytime.

Cheers,

Stephanie Carmichael
Community/Social Media Manager
www.classcraft.com 
stephanie@classcraft.com