Game On!

What started two months ago as a manipulative plot to get my seniors to prepare for IB exams has turned into an epic quest:  to annihilate Lida the Mango (#1 in the world in biology) in a battle of wits while accidentally preparing for exams of course. The QuizUp biology topic update has finally gone live and my students  couldn't be more excited... or sleep deprived.

QuizUp challenge in IB Biology class.

QuizUp challenge in IB Biology class.


My evidence? The 20 challenges I receive around midnight every night from my students desperately trying to take advantage of my zombie state for a shot at the 100 extra experience points they receive if they beat their teacher.

I would like to thank all of the IB biology teachers in international schools around the world and of course my students who helped me to write the question set. It was truly a collaborative effort that began when my student, Eshaan Patheria, suggested adding content to QuizUp instead of the flash card app we had been using for review. I would also like to thank Ásgeir Berg, QuizUp's  content editor for nature and science, who worked with me to ensure that the biology topic would be challenging enough for our students to use as a study tool for exams. This company clearly sees the value in working with the educational community to help integrate their app into the classroom. 

The Game Plan

Yes, i lost to Lida the Mango who managed to get a perfect score!

Yes, i lost to Lida the Mango who managed to get a perfect score!

To bring this game to life in the classroom, my students and I devised a basic shell for our class game that put everyone on an even playing field.  Here is how it works: 

1) Students will compete in class against each other during designated times.

**Lesson learned... Allowing them 5-10 minutes at the end of class works best, or you can forget about the class period! The students are so engrossed that it is impossible to get them to stop.

 After each game, students will take a screenshot of their challenge and then points will be awarded and recorded in a Google spreadsheet which only I can edit :-)

To avoid issues of mobile device failure, internet connection issues, game issues etc., the average of each students totals will be calculated (score is cumulative over semester).  No points are awarded in instances of technology failure resulting in the forced forfeit of a student.

2) Outside of class, students are allowed to play as many games as they want, but the only ones that can count towards their experience point totals are those played against other student in grade 12 IB biology, me, Lida the Mango (#1 in the world), and Rams (#1 in India). Each student can submit up to 10 screenshots of their game results per week (see picture above).  This requires strategy as they have to find the right balance between their opponents lowest scores and their own high score as both will be recorded at the beginning of the week. This definitely helps to up the intensity of the game and keeps all participants motivated.

Points are awarded as follows: 

For each match played, the student is awarded their match points, plus:  

  • 100 extra experience points for beating me

  • 200 extra experience points for beating Rams

  • 300 extra experience points for beating LIDA THE MANGO

Of course, if I ever becomes #1 in India (I am #3 right now behind none other than Merry Christmas and Rams) then everyone gets 200 bonus experience points :-)

3)  Levels will also be awarded based on the number of experience points they have in total, to encourage students to more games even if their average isn’t the greatest. This will help weaker students to be competitive and encourage repetition which will help them to learn the material better.  

Students begin life as primordial slime and then work their way up through the evolutionary ladder to the top level of Super Human Intelligent Terrestrial.  Experience point totals for moving from one level to the next were based on the maximum number of points that students could earn each week so that I can stretch our class game out over the next 11 weeks to prepare them for mock exams.  I am still working out the details in terms of my reward structure, so stay tuned for the final game plan! 

The engagement has been amazing, and I am hopeful that this will encourage students to reflect on the amount of practice that it takes to memorize concepts. 

The only drawback that I am currently facing is the fact that QuizUp can only be played on iOS devices. Luckily, the majority of my 12th graders have these, and in class, I loan out my extra iPads to students who don't have them. Today a student showed up to class with a borrowed phone from his girlfriend so that he could play :-)  Hopefully in the near future, students will have access to QuizUp on their android devices as well as the web. Until then, I am working on designing other strategies that will enable students to participate in our class game outside of QuizUp. I am considering creating a track using Quizlet as it offers web and mobile platforms. If you have any suggestions, please share! 

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Update:  When I returned from dinner this evening, this post was waiting for me on our class Facebook group. Love it!