Increasing classroom engagement with gamification at Holy Family Catholic School
Embracing 21st Century competencies in math and science is a priority at Holy Family, with a pedagogy focused on fusing technology with student learning and engagement.
Holy Family takes providing quality teaching and a strong learning environment seriously. Their biggest challenge was how to deliver the same quality of teaching and learning environment to all students. Students at Holy Family come from a wide range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and some have access to tools and technology that others simply do not. The school administration wanted to provide a focus on 21st century learning skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and problem solving in a real-world context with tools that could bridge any gap that might exist.
Together, Compugen, HP and Microsoft procured, configured and rolled out 28 low-cost laptops to Holy Family for students loaded with Microsoft Minecraft. To properly support teachers with the new devices, the first task was to ensure that they were fully trained on how to fully utilize all the tools and software now at their fingertips. Microsoft, organized multiple on-site professional development training sessions to provide teachers with hands on training, answer technical questions and share tips on how to effectively use the technology with the students. With the new devices in place, teachers re introduced Minecraft to students as a fun and engaging way to hone math skills and encourage self-directed learning. One of the projects included building a mock school using digital blocks – a program that required them to use addition & multiplication skills to solve problems and succeed.
Although the devices were rolled out in only three classrooms, having technology in the school made it accessible to multiple classes and students throughout the school. The school administration reported greatly increased levels of engagement in the classroom. A further positive result was in the increased engagement of non-verbal students, who were able to participate and collaborate with their peers through the cloud-based tools and resources. Once gamification was introduced, students reported that they found learning more enjoyable – and were able to improve skills in areas they had previously struggled with. Overall, the solution designed by Compugen, HP and Microsoft brought about a more student-centred learning environment where teachers guided students, students helped teach each other, and the teachers learned from their students as well.