Dollars & Dragons, Reward System for Kids, Photoshop + Print, 2014-2016
Motivating kids to learn was the hardest part of being a teacher in Japan. But it was like magic when I finally found something that worked! Dollars & Dragons is something I threw together to reward my kids and track their progress in English class.
At first it was a sticker chart and fake “dragon dollars” on copy paper that I’d hand out for participation or completion. The students were content collecting dollars in their pen cases until I introduced shopping in English for their own stickers. That was a huge hit, but buying stickers got expensive. At the start of the next school year, I gave each student their own progress chart with an avatar. When they earned dragon dollars they could use them to buy pieces of clothing/armor that stick on their avatar to build a suit of armor.
It was much better because the students not only tried hard in class to earn dollars, but also had to speak English to go shopping with me as the clerk, AND I could visually track each student’s participation. Dollars & Dragons gained a lot of popularity so I kept designing new things. I continued the project into the next few school years and expanded it with a class monster, upgradable pets, a discipline dungeon, and an inter-class competition to beat a BOSS monster.
Over three years, this rewards system was used by myself and 7 other teachers at four different schools with a total of 30 classrooms by hundreds of kids from ages 9-15 (grades 4-9). Every teacher who used the program saw increased motivation, learning, and participation in their students.
Hop, Skip, Jump!, Language Game, Photoshop + Print, 2015
Hop, Skip, Jump is a board game I designed for the Fukuoka Prefectural Board of Education in 2015. I was appointed to lead a committee tasked with making a multiplayer game for 100 Japanese students to play over three days at a language camp. The camp was hosted by Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch-themed amusement park in Japan. The theme for this year’s camp was understanding foreign cultures. My team integrated the five “country groups” as stickers revealed at the end of a string of tasks that function like a personality test. The most challenging part as leader was communicating with the 5-member committee long distance during the iteration process. We labored over the wording of each question and task because the student’s English vocabulary levels differed greatly, however it was a huge success at camp. The game functioned perfectly due to the student’s motivation and the organizer’s amazing team work. I was responsible for all the computer design work in Photoshop CC and my committee consisted of 5 teachers. The game was implemented by a larger group of 15 organizers.
\Level Up!, Language Game, Photoshop + Print, 2014
Level Up! was my first Huis Ten Bosch summer camp game. I volunteered to lead a team to redesign the previous year’s BINGO card. We began the process with a Shoots & Ladders-style remake that reused a lot of the same tasks the BINGO card from the year before. The biggest issue with the previous year’s design is that is was “boring” and “too short.” The students flew through that activity (intended for a three-day camp) in a single day. My biggest challenge was being left to complete the project on my own because my team member quit her job unexpectedly. Despite that setback, I focused my efforts on: 1) creating a difficulty ramp from beginning to end 2) making mysterious rewards for players to earn 3) extending the length of the game to last all 3 days. The 5 animals are my original drawings digitized from pen and ink. The end result was highly successful with a 90% completion rate among the 120 participants at the camp.