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Wilmington Teacher Uses Computer Game to Increase Cooperative Learning, Teamwork

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WHQR, Isabelle Shepherd
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Brian Toth demonstrates a student's Classcraft character on the projector.

In a Wilmington classroom, a math teacher is using new technology to turn learning into a game. And in order to succeed in the world of Classcraft, an online, educational role-playing program, teamwork is key.

In Brian Toth’s fourth grade math classes, the students are split into teams and assigned roles. In the game, they can be mages, warriors, or healers. By doing well in class, students gain experience points, and if they behave badly, they take damage, which leads to negative consequences.

But it’s more than individual rewards and punishments—if one player doesn’t turn in their homework, for example, the whole team is held responsible. Toth says this group accountability leads to cooperative learning and encouragement within the groups.

Colin, a student in Toth’s math class, says that, as a warrior, he often protects the rest of his team:    

"When, um, they are bad or something, when they get damage, I’m allowed to, if I have enough AP, I can, um, protect them without them taking as much damage."

In the two and a half months since Classcraft was implemented, only 2 out of 28 students have fallen in battle, which is when all points are lost. Toth says that’s a testament to the students healing and helping one another, and encouraging each other to do their work.