The Item Shop (Gaming in Teacher Education)

We’ve reached a point where things can get a bit confusing. Heck, I created the syllabus for my course and even I had to go reread it a few times to make sure I got everything right for this post. But, to sum it up, here’s where we are in terms of points students can earn that will lead us into our next phase of development: The Item Shop.

  • Students complete quests (assignments) and earn XP.
  • Some quests are required for a grade, and other quests are optional.
  • Optional quests earn extra XP but have no effect on the grade.
  • As students earn XP, they also earn achievements (Level 1 Blogger for example)
  • When students receive an achievement – when they level up – they also receive achievement points.

Let’s pause here for a recap. Remember, I am keeping track of two things: (a) experience points and (b) achievement points. Experience points earn students achievements (Level 1 Blogger) AND also achievement points.

What do we do with the achievement points? This is where the item shop comes in.

I assume pirates run all item shops.

The item shop is where students can go to spend their achievement points. Chris – of course – has written all about it, and you should go read it. What I took away from Chris’ post, as well as a conversation we later had, was that whatever went into the Item Shop had to have real meaning and value for the students. But to be honest, I had no idea what would be of interest to my students.

However, I did not want to come to the first day of class empty-handed. I wanted some ideas on the table to show them what an item shop could look like. To figure some things out, I sent out a Facebook message to some teachers and asked for input. Here are some suggestions I got:

  • Priority Parking Space
  • Leave Campus for Lunch
  • Leave Campus for Errand
  • Extra Copies on the Copier
  • Someone Makes & Delivers Copies for You
  • One Day Duty Coverage
  • Wear Jeans for a Day

I put those onto the page I made on our syllabus for the Item Shop, but I did not assign any achievement points to them yet. Here’s my thinking:

  1. On the first (and possible second) week of class, I will have students work to come up with ideas for the shop
  2. I will take ideas all semester long (I think) and will treat this as a work in progress
  3. I haven’t assigned achievement points to anything yet because I don’t assume that what’s on the starter list will stay. It’s all open for discussion.

Basically, I want my students to really craft the item list with things that are meaningful to them. I will then have to go back and put in the amount of achievement points needed to buy an item. I expect most of this to be resolved by the second week of class – long before anyone would likely be able to make a purchase. Once I get a pretty stable list going, with assigned achievement points, I will share it.

Additionally, keep in mind that I am working with teachers who reside in different schools across different districts. So I’m hoping for administrator buy-in. However, I can’t be running all over the area meeting with people. I’m hoping that a letter on UNC letter-head explaining the approach we will be doing and asking them to work with us on this will be acceptable. Because, as you can see, so far the list of what teachers want in an item shop are things that are out of my control to give them. Outside of saying they have earned the points, and providing some sort of verification for that, there is little I can do.

One Year Ago Today


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