Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Behind the Books: What the Heck Is Gamification?

In June, I presented at a very special event—the first-ever conference dedicated to children’s nonfiction. Held on the SUNY New Paltz campus, the Twenty-first Century Nonfiction Conference offered unique opportunities for writers, artists, editors, designers, art directors, packagers to talk shop. It was truly inspiring.

In a great workshop, author and app creator Roxie Munro introduced me to a new term—gamification. It’s content delivered (via a book or other media) in a game-like format. In the case of books, it’s basically a way of structuring the text. And this kind of structure is both fun and interactive.

Roxie’s very popular picture book Hatch! is a great example, but the more I thought about it, the easier it became to name other books that are also structured as games. Here are some examples:

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by Joyce Sidman

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Where in the Wild? by David M. Schwartz, Yael Schy, and Dwight Kuhn

Where Else in the Wild? by David M. Schwartz, Yael Schy, and Dwight Kuhn

What in the Wild? by David M. Schwartz, Yael Schy, and Dwight Kuhn

While gamification isn’t one of the nonfiction text structures specified in Common Core ELA RI standard #5, it’s certainly an approach that I’m going to try with at least one of my works in progress.
CCCCSS ELA RI #5
Grade 4
Grade 5
Describe the overall structure (chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or info in a text or part of a text
Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/ solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or info in two or more texts

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