I believe every good, gamified class must have a Total Points, xp grading system. The xp system will be the foundation of your gamified classroom, so it should be the first thing you do if you want to gamify your class! Here is how I made my Total Points, xp grading system while still staying within the confines of my districts percentage grading policy. Warning: there will be math!
For my class, I had to make the Total Points system work within a percentage grading system. My district uses the following weighted grading categories for English classes:
- Tests – 45%
- Quizzes – 30%
- Homework -15%
- Participation -10%
A quiz is worth 15% less then a test; a test is worth 4.5 times more than participation. I could have easily just made tests 450xp, quizzes 300xp, etc., but those numbers aren’t big enough. You want your xp system to use big numbers because 1000xp is more fun to earn then 10xp. I use this system:
- Epic Quests (Tests) – 1000xp
- Heroic Quests (Quizzes) – 500xp
- Side Quests (Hw) – 400xp
- Social Quests (Part/Disc) – 300xp
You’ll notice, I also changed the names of the categories to better reflect what one might find in a video game. For what it’s worth, I’ve had many students tell me that the renaming of the categories has cut down on their anxiety. Questing is fun, while working is not, they say. An Epic Quest is something to be defeated, while a Test is something to be feared, or so I’ve been told.
Anyway, we know that dividing the xp they earn by the xp a quest is worth gives us their percentage grade. If you don’t have to worry because your school district doesn’t use weighted grading categories, congratulations! You’re done! If you are like me and have to work in the required weighted percentages, don’t panic! Most gradebooks allow you to create and weight different grading categories. We can make both systems work together!
Lets say a student takes three Heroic Quests (Quizzes) and scores:
- 1300xp/1500xp total
1300xp divided by 1500xp = 87%. This 87% is then multiplied by the weighted 30% that quizzes are worth in my school district (.87 times .3), which works out to roughly 26 points toward their marking period grade. This is done for each grading category. Add the four categories up and you have a final marking period grade. For me, under Gradebook, then Setup, then Course Profile is where I can find the option to weight grades by category. Of course, we may not use the same gradebook, but I am confident that your gradebook has this option.
Here’s a screen shot of my gradebook:
1. Students’ percentage grades (they are weighted behind the scenes).
2. How many xp points a students has earned during the marking period.
3. How many total xp points a student could have earned during the marking period.
The rest of the picture are some quests and xp values.
Using a Total Points system also allows you to track students progress throughout the school year. Looking at my leaderboard, you can see that my kids could have earned 19,200xp total so far, this year.
A Total Points, xp grading system is great because it allows you to start students with a zero. I never understood why we start students with a hundred and tell them all they have to do is keep it. We know that’s not possible; all they can do in that system is fail. We shouldn’t be starting students at the top, leaving them to watch their grade slide toward a zero. We should have students leveling up, like in video games. That way they can see their progress not only during the marking period, but for the entire year. All they can do is succeed! It makes the classroom and your quests something positive instead of something negative. You’re classroom should be a positive place. Instead of writing -20xp on a kids quest, write +80xp. Little, positive things like that make a world of difference even to high school kids.
Change your grading system now!
Using a Total Point, xp grading system will also allow us to advance to the next level of our gamified classroom: Gamify Your Class Level II: Leaderboards.
cross-posted on Teched Up Teacher
Chris Aviles teaches English at Barnegat High School in New Jersey. He presents on education topics including gamification, technology integration, BYOD, blended learning, and the flipped classroom. Read more at Teched Up Teacher.