A School-wide Gamification Project Created by the Teacher Librarian

Gabrielle Thormann
Squires, T. (2016).  Student engagement through library-led gamification.  Library as Classroom.  Retrieved from:  https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/recording/playback/link/table/dropin?sid=2008350&suid=D.5D141781486B23E7660294861CD3B7
This entry is an audio recording available only through the Blackboard Collaborate system.  
This middle school teacher librarian had the support and opportunity of her administration and staff to create a school-wide gamification project.  She created teams of 7th graders against 8th graders, used digital technology, specifically Edmodo to create groups for communication between students.  Stories were built in the morning with the cooperation of staff, missions and goals were set, strategy cards to assist missions, and points allotted and listed in spreadsheets.   Students were also required to turn in a paper report of their work in the games, as well as other simple assignments and activities during the game.  Squires created a video about the game, and submitted to ‘Follett Challenge’ and won a substantial amount of funds. 
I’m always interested in hearing/reading about how teachers apply theory and create projects, and so found this audio recording interesting and supportive.
Note:  Here is the link to other talks also available through Blackboard Collaborate:

New Media Literacy Education (NMLE): A Developmental Approach

Amy Unger

Media Literacy Ed.

Graber, D. (2012) New Media Literacy Education (NMLE): A developmental approach. The National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Journal of Media Literacy Education, 4(1), 82-92.


In response to computer-technology usage by digital natives, the author of this article, Diana Graber, has developed and implemented a media-literacy curriculum called Cyberwise.  Her basis for its development was in response to a growing awareness of the immensity of internet and social media usage by digital natives, and scholars such as Prensky (2010), pointing towards a justified need for meeting young people “in whatever way they [educators, mentors] meet them” (this, increasingly meaning through technology) with opportunities that “best configure students’ brains so that they can constantly learn, create, program, adopt, adapt, and relate positively to whatever and whomever they meet …”, along with James, et al., (2008) stating that, “… the responsibility lies with the adults (educators, policymakers, parents, etc.) to provide young people with optimal supports for good play and citizenship.”

Furthermore, Graber’s Cyberwise curriculum responds to the long-revered developmental theories of Piaget and Kohlberg, summed up as sharing the belief that

” … children spend the first 12 years of life developing the cognitive structures that enable them to grasp the abstract, metaphoric, and symbolic types of information that lead to ethical thinking.  This understanding of cognitive and moral development requires us to at least consider how and when the youngest members of our society should be turned loose in a digital environment” (Graber, 2012).

Moreover, it is this capacity for ethical thinking that drives the Cyberwise curriculum.  Graber calls for our teaching of students to be wise users of the tools at their disposal, as a prerequisite to teaching media literacy.  Citing Ohler (2010), she notes the suggestion of a “whole school approach to behavior that sets the entirety of being digitally active within an overall ethical and behavioral context — character education for the Digital Age.”  Monke (2004) refers to this challenge with this:

“It seems that we are faced with a remarkable irony: that in an age of increasing artificiality, children first need to sink their hands deeply into what is real; that in an age of light-speed communication, it is crucial that children take the time to develop their own inner voice; that in an age of incredibly powerful machines we must first teach our children how to use the incredible powers that lie deep within themselves.”

In searching for evidence of schooling that is currently meeting any portions of this demand, Graber found one approach to be notably successful at developing moral reasoning, i.e., the Waldorf® school approach.  In a cited dissertation (Hether, 2001), about high school seniors from diverse educational settings, the Waldorf® school approach was found–through a quantitative survey tool about moral reasoning, known as the DIT (Defining Issues Test)–to result in graduates scoring significantly higher in moral reasoning than students from religiously affiliated or public high schools.  Waldorf educated students scored in a range more commonly associated with college graduates (Graber, 2012, p. 87).

Perhaps even more importantly, the second phase of that same dissertation identified five aspects of Waldorf® education that might contribute to higher moral reasoning:

  1. an emphasis on educating the whole person
  2. sensitivity to developmental appropriateness
  3. the practice of storytelling
  4. the integral place of the arts in the curriculum
  5. preservation of a sense of wonder towards the natural world

Sometime later, Jenkins, et al. (2006), (as in the Jenkins, et al.: Henry Jenkins of USC, and his team) identified “the media literacies”, which have significant overlap with the aspects of Waldorf® education:

  1.  networking, negotiation, collective intelligence and distributed cognition, such as occurs while students are working together to build a small structure (one of the many hands-on, collaborative projects in the Waldorf® curriculum)
  2. visualization, judgement, and appropriation, such as the proficiencies cultivated through the Waldorf® empahasis on art
  3. performance and simulation skills, such as developed by the dramatic storytelling practiced in Waldorf®, and 
  4. play, considered a hallmark of Waldorf® education (Graber, 2012, p. 88).

While the article goes further to explain the middle school years as the right time for ethical media literacy instruction, through Harvard University’s GoodPlay Project that identifies what ethical issues young people encounter in the digital world, it also makes mention of a three-year case study, through classroom action study, using Cyberwise (this being a Waldorf-inspired charter school in Orange County, CA) (Graber, 2012).

In conclusion, this article helps us stop and think about what we are doing while immersed in the beginnings of the digital age, with its “world full of both possibility and peril – rules of engagement being hashed out as we go” (Graber, 2012, p. 89).


I find this article to be indispensable, unique, and on the list of “why is this not required reading”?  Thank you for (hopefully) bearing with its length.

Citations referred to in the Graber Article (found to be in citation other than APA):

Hether, C.A. 2001. “The Moral Reasoning of High School Seniors from  Diverse Educational  Settings.” Ph.D. dissertation, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center. Retrieved from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text (Publication No. AAT 3044032).

James, C., K. Davis, A. Flores, J.M. Francis, L. Pettinghill, M. Rundel, and H. Gardner. 2008. “Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media: A Synthesis from the Good Play Project.” GoodWork® Project Report Series, Number 54. Project Zero, Harvard School of Education.

Jenkins, H., R. Purushotma, K. Clinton, M. Weigel and A.J. Robinson, 2006. Confronting the  Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. http://newmedialiteracies.org/.

Monke, L. 2004. “The Human Touch.” Education Next 4(4). http://educationnext.org/thehumantouch/

Ohler, J.B. 2009. “Orchestrating the Media Collage.” Educational Leadership 66(6): 8-13.  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar09/vol66/Orchestrating-the-Media- Collage.aspx