Getting Started in Gamification - Setting up Levels & XP Questions



Help! I will have some struggling learners next year and I’d like to get them super-hyped about my class. I’ve decided to gamify my math curriculum, but I’m stuck on what is most likely Step 1: the Leveling System. :roll_eyes: I know, this should be the easy part, right?

While I teach Algebra 1, the curriculum is split into a Semester 1 and a Semester 2 course. Therefore students will have to start over each semester because the class rosters change. (Students are scheduled to repeat Semester 1 right away if they fail it at the beginning of the year. Students going on to Semester 2 are reshuffled into new classes.)

Here are my initial questions:
1) How many levels should I have for an 18-week course? (I’m assuming the ones I’ve seen are for a full school year.)
**2) Is there a magic formula for assigning the number of points to unlock each level? I know I want students to be able to level up before our first test. **
3) How do integrate students who join my class in after we’ve already started? Do I adjust their XP via multipliers? Give an XP handicap based on the transferring grade?
**4) Should I use two different sets of level names, one for Sem 1 and one for Sem 2?

FYI: XP and my curriculum:

  1. I’d like to ‘hook’ students from the start and allow them to level up once before the first test. So, students will earn small values of XP for completing daily work in order to show progress towards that goal of leveling up.
  2. We have 5 unit tests, comprised of 2-4 concepts per test. “Big” XP will be assigned to each individual concept. Therefore, if students retest, they can earn more XP.
    –Question: How should XP from retests be weighed so I don’t get kids to ‘game’ the system by purposely getting a lower score the first time so they can retest and get more XP than they would have if they had scored 100% the first time?
  3. I also plan to have XP awarded for group games/activities as well as from review/enrichment activities in order to keep kids motivated and learning even if they are aren’t strong math students.

Thanks for any help/advice you can give this Noob. :slight_smile: I would LOVE to see the level system you use in your classroom. :star_struck:


My 2 cents:

I have 11 ranks for my full year course. While not totally arbitrary, it is also not curriculum based. Basically, you want students to be able to level up quickly when they start, with each level becoming more difficult as they progress, especially if each level is accompanied by perks.

In it’s published version for students, each rank is linked to its corresponding page in this slide deck that “explains” the perk of the rank.

Rank Max Value XP Min Value XP Privilege
Ultimate survivor 270000+ XP 270000 Earns blog immunity
Hand of Mercy 269999 220000 No more Rocketlit!
Grand master 219999 170000 Can remove the lowest grade from the gradebook
Guardian 169999 130000 Can “magically” transform a zero into a warning, thereby extending due dates.
Officer 129999 90000 May obtain the answer to ONE question from the teacher or a fellow student during a Quest
Ranger 89999 50000 May use personal phone in class once all classwork is done
Runner 49999 20000 May have mints in class.
Trapper 19999 10000 Listen to music
Chaser 9999 5000 Notes on Quests
Apprentice 4999 200 Access to technology
Novice 199 0 Chooses Seat

Which brings me to

No magic number, as mentioned before the first few ranks are super easy. For me Novice, you basically just have to show up on the first day of school, and apprentice is “rigged” so that as soon as they pass the AUP quiz they gain access to tech - earned usually during the first week. On the other hand side of the spectrum, this year I only have about 10/240 who reached ultimate survivor and that was in the last week of school. As you see, the ranges do not really follow a set amount, or even any rhyme or reason. I simply decided on a number for the final XP and worked backward from there, making sure that each range level required more points than the last.

I’ve had this happen mid year, and I give them a handicap taking the midway point between my lowest and middle at the time they join. Not particularly fair, but you want to have the endpoint attainable for all.

I wouldn’t, but it could just depend on your students. If some of them are the same students, you could have Sem1 Novice and Sem2 Novice, or perhaps you could have different rank badges for each semester blue toned for sem 1 and red toned for sem 2. This could be relatively easy to do by recoloring the rank badges you create.

I’ve thought about this problem in relation to side quests (I did not want students to keep completing the same thing over and over), and developed a sheet that will award more points to first attempts than to second or third, and fourth will assign no points. I discuss it here. Perhaps you could adapt this sheet to combat the problem.


Thank you @mgarcia!! Your 2 cents is worth waaaaaay more! With your helpful tips, I’ve been brainstorming on and off all morning and afternoon.
I’m so excited!! I can see the plan clearer now. :blush:

At first I thought I would have to cut the ranking in half for a semester, but then I realized that more levels would allow for more opportunities to recognize student achievement. :+1: I have decided to purposely using curriculum based gamification with the hopes of inspiring students to retest instead of just settling for the first grade they earned. This won’t be super cumbersome because our unit tests are retested by individual concept. I’ll outline my thoughts further down this post so you can weigh in with your expertise and hopefully catch a potential problem before it becomes ‘live.’

We have high transiency in our district. So it’s not a matter of ‘if’ it will happen, but rather ‘how many’ times will I have to adjust the system. :slight_smile: Many times students enroll and have a transfer grade associated with what they have already accomplished. Maybe to make it more fair, I could find 3-4 students whose scores are closest to that grade and and average their XP for a more accurate.
Question: Were you able to insert a row to keep students in ABC order, or did you simply add the new student at the bottom of the already populated list? I’m afraid to try it for fear of causing a misalignment among the tabs.

I like the idea of different rank badges. My population will probably be anti-math (and most likely artistic and creative) for the most part at the start of the year. I wonder if I could choose the first 2 rank badges and then have the students design (on paper or digitally) the rest and have them suggest names, too. I can take all the drawings have the students rank them in a Google Form. I would take the most popular ones and set them as the highest ranking rank badge. Hopefully, We could even re-vote each semester and add in new badge designs students create throughout the previous semester. The spreadsheet you created and shared is set up perfectly for interchanging those badges easily.

I like how you handled the repeats from the side quests and I think that could easily apply to the retests as well!

I plan to add more tabs, one for each math concept (16 total). XP will be earned daily at 10 pts per Formative with a minimum of 3 per day. (I make each one a 5-15 minute activity, so it’s not as bad as it sounds. :wink:) Unit tests are 2-4 concepts and in our grade book are entered at 10 pts each (in a category weighted at 60% of their grade.) I plan to have multipliers on tests to automatically increase the XP according to the pace I laid out for 'on track" students to be able to reach the maximum rank. About half the points able to be earned are from tests alone (to encourage retesting for mastery learning.)

The other half can be earned from daily Formatives, review games, extra practice on, and Escape Classrooms, just to name a few. I had originally planned on increasing each Formative after each test, but then realized that it would be counterproductive to mastery learning.:thinking: So… I decided to offer Multipliers that could be earned as students master concepts. Once students master 3 concepts (any three) they earn the x10 multiplier on non-test XP activities. After 6 concepts mastered they earn a x100 multiplier. Nine mastered concepts earns a x1000 multiplier and 12 earns a x10,000 multiplier. (I plan to add a column in each concept tab for the multiplier so students can earn their multipliers independently on one another.) There will be a separate tab that highlights and tallies the number of concepts mastered. Multiplier cells are copied from the previous concept tab, so when I enter a multiplier manually, it transfers to all the concept tabs after that one. :smile: If I want more movement in the ranking, I could upgrade ALL the XP points by putting the multiplier on the Leaderboard tab.
Question - What are your thoughts on the multiplier? Do you see any potential issues with the system (or Sheet codes)? Any suggestions for streamlining the process?

I really appreciate all your guidance and inspiration. My PLC calls me ‘GoogleHead’ for being so techy in my classroom. If you were in out PLC we’d call you “GoogleHead Guru!” When I finish tweaking your shared spreadsheet for my classroom, I’ll share a link so you and others can have a copy.


The easiest is to just add him/her at the bottom. If you are using the sheets I have shared, you can isert it where it goes on the first one, but you will have to manually move the scores on the subsequent sheets since they are all connected.

I did just this not too long ago (master multiplier). If you add it where I have individual scores, it will add it along with the rest. Or you can simply multiply the totals column.

And really, I am no master. I just have learned from multiple mistakes and asking what if… :slight_smile:


Thanks again for the feedback. I’ll work on my spreadsheet before I delve any deeper.

Me, too! Experiment first… read the instruction manual later… last ditch effort, Google it.