Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2018

Classcraft

Track behavior, motivate students with clever, cooperative game

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
4–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (36 Reviews)
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Pros: Instant feedback and accountability encourage students to act responsibly, and teacher-created quests motivate learners.

Cons: Depending on how it's set up, the experience could be more punitive than supportive.

Bottom Line: Classcraft is a fantastic game for encouraging positive behavior while students build knowledge and develop communication and collaboration skills.

Use Classcraft to motivate your students and to build collaboration and teamwork skills. Award points for encouraging classmates, completing assignments on time, respecting noise levels, and more. Even if students are cooperating just to gain points at first, it's inevitable that with teacher support they will learn valuable social skills along the way. Teachers can, and should, make the program their own -- adapting the game to suit their own classrooms, especially in terms of events, powers, rewards, and points needed to level up. Being attentive to these details up front will help craft a virtual environment of motivation and positive reinforcement instead of a punitive one. Teachers can use the program to teach concepts through a gamified storyline, pulling assignments in from your computer or Google Drive or writing the story yourself. Be careful, though: Once the creative juices get flowing, it can be easy to get lost in your own adventures.

Some of the preset powers and events may cause strife, especially among younger students. Make sure to take a close look and customize them as necessary. For example, optional random events include suggestions such as, "The player with the least HP loses 15 HP." Although that may work well in some classrooms, students who are struggling may feel targeted for being the "weakest" players, especially if the game is broadcast (as suggested) via interactive whiteboard or screen.

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Classcraft is a fantasy-themed behavior- and learning-management role-playing game (available on the web and as a Chrome app). Students choose a character (Warrior, Healer, or Mage), and then form teams and work together to gain experience points (XP) through positive classroom behaviors and academic achievements. As students level up, they earn powers with real-world effects, such as being allowed to eat in class. Students can also lose hit points (HP) via Random Events or for negative behaviors (unless another player intercedes and uses a power on their behalf). If a student loses all of his or her HP, he or she "falls in battle" and must face consequences set by the teacher (for example, clean up or forgo a privilege). As with powers, there are some preset suggestions, but teachers can choose to customize. Teacher-created Quests, currently in beta, will take some time to set up, but they can be a unique way to immerse students in learning or reviewing concepts. Note that some of these features are only available with a paid account.

Classcraft provides tools for student engagement via features like classroom forums, trainable pets, and gold, which allow students to modify and adjust their avatars. Classcraft also allows parents to have accounts so they can keep an eye on their child's performance. The teacher forum, which is highly active, allows teachers to provide suggestions for new features -- many of which are implemented as the moderators pass them on to the site's organizers.

By putting students into teams where success is contingent upon cooperation, Classcraft puts a new spin on traditionally individualized behavior management. This game integrates easily with normal classroom activities, encouraging teamwork and collaboration while giving students instant feedback on soft skills, such as attendance, homework completion, and classroom behavior. Features such as the Makus Valley for noise control and Boss Battles quiz activities keep students on their toes and accountable to their teams, while the Quests allow teachers to differentiate instruction by modifying complexity and allowing students to move at their own pace. Since students work together within the game's premise, the issues that arise feel like challenges to be tackled together. It should be noted that instant feedback via projection capabilities or 1-to-1 devices informs the entire class when students take damage, so teachers may opt to have students check after class, especially in cases where negative feedback could create problems with sensitive students.

Teachers will need to be prepared to put a lot of work into setup, but the silent authority the game allows teachers can be less distracting than direct confrontation. While explicit teaching of social skills and conflict resolution will be an important factor in the game's success, most students will enjoy striving toward real-world powers, and students who are working toward behavioral goals will find the immediate and constant feedback helpful and playful rather than negative. In addition, the game's developers are highly active and attentive, constantly upgrading and updating the system for a more engaging user experience.  

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Compelling characters, teamwork, and a feeling that something larger is at stake will get kids interested and motivated.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

It's designed to foster learning through teamwork, motivation, and collaboration. Publicly displaying student progress is tricky, however, and teachers should modify content appropriately.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Complicated and time-intensive to set up, but there's a good community base, an excellent blog, and lots of useful, regularly updated help available.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

Teacher Reviews

(See all 36 reviews) (36 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Laura S. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Trinity Lutheran School
Joppa, MD
My Students can't wait to go on Classcraft every day!
My students and I LOVE Classcraft! I find that even the competitive aspect of it really pushes students to be on their best behavior! I promote a culture of teamwork in my classroom, so if a student is breaking a rule, and therefore loses some HP ("hit points," like in a game), their team almost always chooses to save them, and then really encourages them to stop the problem behavior so they don't get in trouble again. And, I am SO EXCITED about the new features they are working on! I heard that they are working on rolling out a Quest feature that will allow teachers to create interactive learning experiences for students to go at their own pace. Any time I have had a question or needed help, they get back to me within hours. Can't say enough good things about this product and its creators!
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