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Gamify Art History!

Gamifying my classroom has been absolutely amazing. Giving students different learning targets and resources then allowing them to pick the skills to target each day has made class more fun and engaging not only for the kids but for me too. I wanted to bring that spirit and enthusiasm to art history, so I decided this year, I will end the school year with an NCAA style tournament. I created brackets with 32 different artists. I just listed 32 artists in a spreadsheet then hit "randomize range" and got 16 completely random matchups. Of course, I couldn't resist a few tweaks so Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is in the same bracket as Romero Britto's Mona Cat. I also put Lee Krasner up against Jackson Pollock in round 1. Other than that though, it was completely random. Apparently, Google is a willing accomplice in my playful matchups, as the random sort did put Lichtenstein against Monet allowing me to put different versions of water lilies head to head.

Here are my brackets for "Arts Madness"

After selecting all the artists/work for the matchups, I had to create the forms. I decided that it would help students get invested in the tournament if there were a prize for correctly predicting the outcome. I don't have time to have 550 students fill out brackets, so I made a simple Google form asking just for the student's full name, grade level, which they think will win and why. Since part of my goal is to get students critically analyzing works, I am rewarding the best arguments in favor of a particular artwork. At the end of the tournament, when I announce the winning art, I will look at the predictions students made. I will pick one winner from each grade level to get a custom printed t-shirt. The winners will be chosen based on who had the strongest explanation for why their predicted piece would win.

After setting the brackets, I made a form for the first round match ups. I decided it would be best for students to just vote on one matchup each week. I thought if I had every student weigh in on 16 matchups, it would become too cumbersome and too many would pick without giving it any real thought (sort of testing fatigue). I made 16 copies of the form and put different works in each copy. Then I made a QR code for each form so students can scan the QR code and weigh in on just one matchup then go about their day. Next week, I'll share the winners by displaying the bracket and have 8 forms for the round 2 matchups. Week 3 will be just four matchups, week 4 will be two matchups (our Final Four). Week five will be our championship and everyone in the school will vote on that final matchup. That will coincide perfectly so that week 6 (my final week of school) I can announce the winning art and give students their shirts at the awards ceremony we have at the end of every school year.

I'm super excited to start this new game and hopefully, it will get students hooked on evaluating and critiquing art.


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