Science Teacher Revolutionizes Classroom By Making It A Year Long Role-Playing Adventure

March 8, 2017

Welcome to science teacher Scott Hebert's 8th grade classroom at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Junior High School in Alberta, where lessons transport students to another time and place.

teacher turns classroom into interactive role playing game
Photo credit: Edmonton Journal

In this unconventional classroom, students are tasked with liberating their master and defeating the Minotaur King with a series of quests, battles, and treasure hunts, earning precious objects and experience points on the way.

There are no chairs or tables in his classroom — just painter's tape on the floor marking each group's territory, a series of tents, and castle-themed wall decor.

"It has reinvigorated my love of teaching, because every class is unique and different," Hebert told the Edmonton Journal.

Hebert turned to gamification after teaching science the conventional way — with lectures, note-taking, and tests — and found his students weren't as engaged as he would have liked.

Worksheets became challenges players had to solve using their knowledge of science, tests became "boss battles," and kids earn experience points, not grades, which are tallied on a leaderboard under their characters' names.

The class has changed how students feel about science.

"I thought science was really boring. (Hebert) makes it fun and it doesn't feel like you're learning. It just feels like you're playing a game, and that it's fun," 13-year-old Tanisha McQueen said.

"It makes you work your hardest, because you want to be top of the leaderboard," Caitlyn Buckler said.

Teachers interested in using gaming don't have to go quite so over-the-top as Hebert. He suggests they start by gamifying individual lessons, or even a unit, rather than diving into a year-long plot.

He runs a website, a YouTube channel, and hosts training sessions to help other teachers learn how to incorporate the approach into their classrooms.

"I really just wanted to show kids that what you think school is, or what your parents think school is, or your grandparents, it does not have to be that," Hebert said. "Because we learned one way doesn't mean that we have to continue on that way."

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