Gatsby Gamification Ms. Vaughan's English 3

I wanted to do something to get my students more interested in The Great Gatsby. Every year, students complain that it's a boring book that's only about rich people being rich (until the final few chapters). So when I heard about Gamification, I was all in! But since Gatsby was starting soon, I needed something fast and easy to implement, not a huge "points" system or something like that. So I came up with Gatsby Dollars.

The fake printed money (cut by my TAs) comes in 1s, 5s, 10s, 20s, 50s, and 100s.

Money was the perfect solution because it related to the Great Gatsby, was trackable like "points," but it's also self-sufficient; I don't have to keep track of invisible "points" on the computer, because I could have the students keep track of their physical money. It also kept the blame off me, because students have to be responsible for their money; if they lose it, that's on them. This isn't to say I didn't keep up with them a little bit throughout the quarter; I had check-ins to monitor the "economy" and see how much money I was giving out, where people were at on average

A check in for February 3rd. Some teams decided to combine money; leaders are highlighted. I then transferred this to a spreadsheet.

The money was meaningless without a use and a goal. The overall goal was to collect and save the most, propelling yourself into riches. The student in each class with the most money would be crowned a "Gatsby" and the student who saved the most out of each class would be crowned the "Great Gatsby," and they would be given a shirt and other small prizes, including a 3-d printed trophy. There would also be prizes for the groups with the most money combined, since they were split into 1920's themed literature groups. The money had other uses as well:

Some of the "cheats" students could purchase during a game to give them an edge on the competition.

Students could purchase "cheats" or hints on games, hints on quizzes, as well as a card that allowed for fewer requirements on any assignment (besides Summatives). Other things they could purchase included preferred seating (when we had seating charts), as well as more "fun" prizes like chips, cups, etc.

Some of the "fun" prizes students could buy instead of "cheats."

Something also happened that I didn't expect; enterprising students started selling things to each other for extra cash (lollipops, brownies, drawings, etc.) Students earned money two main ways, the first being daily assignments and challenges, where money was given out for quality work, best examples, good behavior, teamwork, leadership, etc. This motivated students to do completion/classwork that they usually don't do since it "doesn't count twoards a grade."

A score sheet along with payments given to the best work.

The other way to earn money is through games. We played one game every-other week(ish) and students would complete for cash prizes. They were usually team-based games, but were also sometimes individual, like kahoot, quizlet, etc. Students got very competitive and excited. They also completed competitions and voted, with winners getting payouts.

Some score cards and questions from the review game "Will the Winners Lose?"

I did have to make some ground rules about the money, but overall, students handled it very well and liked it a lot. My rules were: No stealing money, No trading money for homework, assignments, etc, and Money cannot be used for help on Summatives. Almost all students worked to collect money, some of them teaming up to combine the money and split the prize, and only a few students didn't buy in, and any money they earned was usually snapped up by more competitive friends.

Dates for money collection and the final Gatsby Party!

The days between grades being due and Spring break are tricky for me: What will I have my students do that is meaningful, but not for a grade, but not an intro to the next unit that will be gone out of their brains before you can say "Spring Break?" The money gave me a good opportunity here, too; a collection and reflection day, and then a Gatsby Party! We will watch parts of the movie, discuss the book, eat food, dress like the 20's, and finally we will present awards! A fitting, and meaningful end to what's been an exciting introduction to Gamification! I hope this inspires you to Gamify your own classroom as well!

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