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SuperFunner: Teachers bring video games to school
Teachers create DIY system to gamify school, kids love it
By Jeff Schwarting
December 1, 2012
4th grade teacher Samantha Webster doesn’t play video games, but her students do - that’s why she turned her fourth grade class into a giant, real-life video game called SuperFunner.
“It just makes it more fun,” said Webster, “I want them to be excited about coming to school, I want them to love learning, and that’s what I’ve seen the most. I’ve seen kids who aren’t normally excited, really excited about school all of a sudden.”
Students are so excited, in fact, that many are asking for more work to do in order to progress through her game.
"[I would improve it] by working on it MORE!" one fourth grade student said in a survey about Ms. Webster’s program. "I liked it because it helped me like writing," said another.
“Comments like that are very common for classes using this system,” said Jeff Schwarting, the project creator, “and that’s our objective - to help kids truly enjoy school.”
How it works
SuperFunner is designed to be superimposed on existing curriculum, so teachers don’t have to change lesson plans or assignments to use it.
Students level up, gain experience points, and earn badges by practicing the skills and knowledge they gain in school, and the system is completely voluntary - though all 30 of Ms. Webster’s 30 students opt in every week.
In simple terms, SuperFunner is a customizable gamification tool that allows teachers to gamify elements of their classes, and helps students become more engaged in their learning experiences.
The creators are now raising money to make SuperFunner more widely available through a crowdfunding campaign on their website, http://www.superfunner.com/, where anyone can contribute and even donate SuperFunner to other teachers.
“My kids love it,” said Ashley Bracey, 3rd grade teacher, who equates SuperFunner to the spoonful of sugar Mary Poppins said “helps the medicine go down.”
For young students whose prescription is to sit in a classroom for 6 hours a day and teachers who are looking for ways to engage them, SuperFunner may be just the sweetener Miss Poppins was talking about.
Jeff Schwarting, Project Creator
SuperFunner is a gamification platform that helps teachers make their classes more fun developed by seven teachers who teach anywhere from 3rd to 12th grade. Teachers use SuperFunner to set specific objectives for students, and students use it to help guide them through their class and homework, gaining experience points, unlocking levels, and earning badges for successfully completing assigned work.
SuperFunner was first tested by Samantha Webster and her 4th grade students, and has since expanded to include pilot testing from 3rd to 12th grades. Jeff Schwarting, BYU Marriott School graduate, coordinates these efforts.
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