Explore Like a Pirate Book Study: Chapter 8

It's time to talk about the next chapter of Explore Like a Pirate! If you would like to read my other recaps, you can find them HERE. Thanks again to Sweet Sweet Primary for hosting!

Chapter 8 is all about items and badges...and when I say "all about," trust me...Matera has included examples of practically every type of item or badge you could come up with. Once again, there's no need to implement all of the things he suggests in the chapter-it's more of a resource to pick and choose from as you continue to plan your game based units.

Matera also cautions that the items and badges you create need to be unique to your classroom and your game. Just using his ideas as-is isn't going to work. You are creating the world of your game and for these things to be successful, they need to be "intimately tied to the game."

Badges and items will, at different times, boost your game in terms of interest, complexity, and flexibility. For example, students who are falling behind in the game may lose interest...unless they receive a badge that grants them double XP on the next quest. Students who are gaming masters may grow bored...unless an item you create unlocks a side quest for a challenge. A point Matera makes that I really like is that "a good game is one that has multiple paths to victory."

Let's explore badges and items in more detail:


Matera uses leader badges, which are earned by completing side quests specific to the unit being taught, and mini-badges, which are created to promote engagement and excitement about the game. Think of mini-badges as being similar to brag tags, except existing in the world of the game. Both are designed to increase behaviors you want to see more of.

Later in the chapter, Matera describes house badges, which I definitely want to include in my game. A house badge means the entire class needs to achieve something for it to be earned. For example, if everyone scores 85% or above on a practice quiz, they earn the right to use their notes for part of the final test. I love how this inspires everyone to pull their weight and study harder because they all want to earn the incentive!


I am just going to highlight a few items that I think I would be able to incorporate easily into my classroom.

Battle Points

Students can earn items that can add to their Battle Points (BP). BP can be used during review style games (like Jeopardy) for an advantage- second chance on a question, double points, extra turn, etc. 

"Kings Pardon"

This allows the students to chance to redo something in the course. Matera notes that for many students it can act like a "safety net," making them feel better knowing they have the opportunity to do an assignment over. I would like to incorporate this into my game because I feel it will encourage my students to take more risks.

Pottery Shards

This idea was my favorite! Before a test, students prepare a note card, which is then torn into 6 pieces. As students earn back a "shard," they receive part of the card back. They can use the pieces they earn back on the test. I can see this being highly motivating!

Now that I've identified some of the badges and items I would like to use, I can begin planning how to incorporate them into my particular game. I look forward to putting all the pieces together and getting started.

Join us next week as we look at Chapter 9, which is all about side quests!

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