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I saw this trending article this am and thought would this be a good topic to talk about in the discussion forum..  Is this a form of gamification? I believe it is.  So, What is Gamification? Gamification is defined as the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.  In this article, “Teachers ditches chairs for yoga balls in class, sees student improvement”.  This article confirms that student engagement is challenging and as instructors, we need to be creative and go out of the norm of the traditional classroom setting.  Melissa Bardwell got the idea from attending a teacher’s conference and learned from evidence-based research that learners sitting on yoga balls dramatically increased test scores.   Bardwell, used her own money to fund a whole set of yoga balls for her class and the elementary children loved it.  Not only were the learners focused and alert, the children were motivated to listen and learn.

So how does the yoga ball work? “The yoga balls require the learners to balance and coordinate themselves to sit upright on the ball.  This slight movement increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain.  And also by sitting centered on the ball, it causes both sides of your brain to be active, and so an active mind engages the student into having active learning,” Bardwell said.  The teacher also says “it helps students that have attention deficit disorders because it gives their mind the engagement it needs by moving their body.”   Learners at any time can take a break and sit on a regular chair if they get tired.

As a student, I remember many times coming back from lunch and attending my afternoon class but I felt like I was ready for a cat nap.  What I realize it was just normal body function.  You eat a big meal for lunch because you need it.  You just sat all morning using up tons of brain cells and so you reward yourself with a delicious meal for lunch.  Sound familiar? You sit down in your 1 pm class and you are fighting to stay awake.  What’s happening is the parasympathetic system of  “Rest and Digest” are taking over.  Waves of peristalsis occur in your intestines to digest that food and the parasympathetic nerves are taking over your body.  Involuntary yawning, relaxation, disengagement and sleep is what your body craves.  But you know you can’t just rest your head on your desk, or you will miss the class lecture.  Or be penalized by the instructor for sleeping in class.  Now that would be embarrassing! Sometimes, I knew the crash would come so I would prepare by bringing an Americano coffee back to class but this gave me a quick high with an even longer crash.  Hitting yourself up with a caffeine dose is not an effective strategy for engagement.  Sitting on a yoga ball which forces my brain to be active so I can balance might be a better alternative to engagement.

What are your thoughts on this?  Would you consider learners sitting on yoga balls a form of gamification?  What other games can you use in your classroom will engage learners? Thank you, Tia

Reference:

Allen, J.  (Sept 2014, on-line).  Teachers ditches chairs for yoga balls, sees student improvement .  Retrieved on Oct 15, 2014, from http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2014/9/15/teacher_ditches_chai.html

Badgeville.com.wiki ( on-line, no date).  What is Gamification?  http://badgeville.com/wiki/Gamification#garterere

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