mike biegner
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  • Easthampton, MA
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mike biegner's Page

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Elms College

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At 10:06am on July 1, 2014, Stephanie Carmichael said…

Hey Mike,

I'm glad to hear the presentation went well! Thanks for updating me about it. We do have teachers who have used Classcraft with younger students (one homeschool teacher has a 4-year-old daughter who loves it!), but we are thinking about creating an elementary/kids version of Classcraft down the line so that it's more suited to younger age groups.

I don't think we've encountered much trouble with first-year teachers not being able to use CC, but I can understand her concern. One thought is to discuss with the senior teacher about using Classcraft or maybe learning and using it in tandem. Our free versions are especially good for teachers who want to first prove the benefits of Classcraft first-hand to their schools without arguing for part of the budget or school-wide changes.

We will be changing the language around "death"/"dying." We've already switched the death message to "fallen in battle," I believe. So the next step is making that more widespread throughout the game/documents. As for gender roles, can you say more about what you mean by that?


For the Gradebook, only the teacher can access it. We're working on a feature that enables teachers to input the grades privately and then "save" them so that they can apply them during class so that students can react to any damage taken. Our Gradebook will always be an optional feature.


Can you say more about what you mean by "rating effect"?

You're spot-on about Class Dojo (though I think part of your message got cut off?). Basically, we see Classcraft as a deeper tool that's not Pavlovian or carrot-and-stick, though that misconception exists. We think the effect that Classcraft has on a classroom goes beyond the game mechanics themselves and even the incentive to do well in the game. Because it's subject-agnostic and team-based, students are not only learning to connect with and relate to (and even love) what's being taught but they're also learning how to build positive social relationships at a time when that can be incredibly difficult for them. The value for them is real, and it's immediate. :)

At 9:23am on June 5, 2014, Stephanie Carmichael said…

No problem, Mike! I look forward to hearing how it goes. :)

At 11:41am on June 2, 2014, Stephanie Carmichael said…

Hey Mike,

Hmm. In our servers I see several different accounts with that email, all slightly different in terms of capitalization. For example:

Mbiegner@charter.net
MBiegner@charter.net
MBiegner@Charter.net

So you shouldn't be getting that error unless maybe the password is incorrect? If you want, I can send a reset password email to the "MBiegner@charter.net" address. Also, do you mean the game is not remembering your registration info when logging in or when you load up your fake classes?

I think most teachers leave the game up during class. We recommend making changes to HP/AP/XP as it happens rather than waiting (so you don't forget, points don't get lost). To explain those values, HP as you mentioned is Health. Action Points are sort of like "mana" if you know that gaming term — they're what you need to use to use your powers. And Experience Points is generally the reward for good behavior as it enables students to level up. Let me know if you need any more clarification on those, and I will be happy to walk you through them!

Yeah! Sounds like your friend would be a super helpful resource. :) A lot of our teachers have played either video games or pen-and-paper RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons before, so the basic concepts are familiar to them. The big thing students will learn is strategy and teamwork — the best ways to use their powers and when. I'm a gamer myself, so I'm always happy to talk about this stuff with our teachers, who are both familiar and unfamiliar.

Thanks for the kind words and support, Mike! Again, don't hesitate to reach out should you need anything now or in the future. I want to hear about how it goes for you with your classes!

P.S. Fun fact: That's my voice on the English video tutorials, haha!

At 7:46am on June 2, 2014, Stephanie Carmichael said…

Hey Mike,

Going to answer your questions one by one! :) I'm glad to see you signed up. Our teachers on the forums are very helpful.

You're right on about how Classcraft is used as an overlay/game interface to track behavior/grades. Teachers can use it with all sorts of subjects. You just reward or punish performance in class by rewarding XP or detracting HP in the game, and everything else game-wise comes down to teamwork: So if one student dies or takes damage, his teammates can jump in to save him. They can tutor a teammate who's doing poorly and dragging down their team, and that teammate is encouraged to work harder to support his teammates. So whether you're teaching poetry, math, or science, it works the same way. :) And of course, you can customize the rules, settings, events, death sentences, and many powers to fit your classroom.

Setting up involves a couple steps: 1) importing your classes, 2) having your students sign the Hero Pact, and 3) assigning your students to teams and having them pick character classes (try to keep each team balanced). That's pretty much it! All the other settings and customization options you can leave alone or tweak when you have the time.

The teacher does manage HP/AP/XP although we've had some teachers assign a "student scribe" in class. :) One very active teacher, Timonious Downing, does it this way. I could ask if he'd chat with you about this if you want some tips. 

How much hands-on control students have depends on your classroom. We have some teachers who run 1:1 classes and others whose students don't have tablets or other devices to access the game there, in class. Students in a 1:1 class can easily jump in and use their powers from their device in class. If you don't, then that's more the teacher's responsibility — or a student scribe's. But it should only take up a little class time on average. Our founder (also a teacher), Shawn Young, was very sensitive about this.

The mention of death/dying is something we're discussing at Classcraft. We've had some other teachers express this same concern, so we're looking into the possibility of offering a censored option or just changing this wording entirely.

I think I answered all your questions, but let me know if I missed any or if you have any others! And you can always reach me at stephanie@classcraft.com. :)

At 12:16pm on May 27, 2014, Stephanie Carmichael said…

Hey Mike,

Thanks for your interest! The good news is you don't have to change your lesson plan in any way, so no matter what you're teaching or how you're teaching it, Classcraft can work in your classroom. Consider it a layer over the normal experience. Basically, you can distribute Experience Points (XP) to reward good behavior, such as answering a question during class or doing well on an exam, and you can dock Health Points (HP) when students misbehave or do poorly on tests and quizzes -- and so on. Since students form teams, they'll learn and use their characters' powers to try to protect and assist their fellow team members, which encourages a positive dynamic.

So actually using Classcraft can take up very little time each class period. Teachers love to do a fun daily random event, which is automatically generated, at the start of each class to get students focused and excited. The rest is just you teaching and taking a few seconds here and there to record any necessary changes in HP, XP, or AP.

You don't need any prior gaming knowledge to understand Classcraft as it's very easy to learn and use. But it does have that game-y flair to it, for sure. :)

Happy to answer any other questions!

 
 
 

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