Well, week one of school is behind me. Every Wednesday, I write out my plans for the next week so that I have my planning period on Thursday and Friday to get materials ready… This week, even planning just a couple days ahead was too early. This will be a year of pivots.
Don’t get me wrong, I FREQUENTLY change my plans around. We move in pace with how ready the class is to take the next steps! BUT… it was different this week. This week I erased in frustration. With myself…
I knew this year wasn’t going to be normal. I knew we’d have some work to do to find out exactly where the kids are after the 18 months of chaos we’ve all been through. What I didn’t realize was how mentally exhausted we all are.
The exhaustion comes from a lot of places. We’ve been through remote/hybrid/in person. We’ve been completely shut down. We’ve been in masks. Our community is at war OVER the masks. We have students who are Zooming in from quarantine. We have students who are sick with other stuff. Most of all, we’re going full days for the first time in 18 months and it is exhausting physically at the beginning! That just adds another layer to our exhaustion cake!
Why did I erase it all?
Because we need mental health breaks. We need, every.single.day, to do something that is light and fun to synthesize the day’s material. Last year we were able to learn in spite of so many hurdles and challenges but we lost a lot of the JOY we have had in my classroom. There just wasn’t time for some of my favorite activities. So this year, they’re coming back. With 15 activities, I can do one activity per day for 3 weeks and then recycle back through them!
Hope that you’re able to make some of these work for your classroom environment!
- Gimkit – There are so many different Gimkit games that you can go through a whole semester playing every three weeks and never play the same game. I keep the games proficiency based by asking questions related to the content of our lesson rather than just making vocabulary flashcards.
- Blooket – There are many different Blooket options as well. You can play every 3 weeks and never play the same game in the semester! Just as with Gimkit, we do proficiency based question and answer types!
- Kahoot – I love Kahoot for a fast, retro game. The kids have played it a million times but they still love it! We usually play three rounds of the same Kahoot to get lots of repeated exposure to our content.
- Quizlet Live – One of my class favorites, this game lets them connect in groups to try to win. It goes fast but they always demand multiple rounds to try to win!
- Charlala – I love using a Charlala drawroom. The new, paid, Charlala would be great if you plan to use it a lot. You get to open 10 free draw rooms and after that, you have to switch to the paid version. What I like about it is that you can type out lines from the story for students to illustrate. Then, charlala takes these illustrations and scrambles them and kids have to read all the sentences to decide what the drawing represents. BUT you can also just read sentences aloud and have all students illustrate them then select the best drawings. For me, the ability to just “wing it” is great when we get done a few minutes early and I haven’t created a “set”.
6. Jump the Line – This is an active way to adapt true or false questions. Have all students start out on one side of your “line” (I lay out a bunch of rulers end to end). If they believe the answer is true, they should hop to the other side of the line. If they believe it is false, they should not cross.
7. Grudgeball – This game is INSANELY fun. The kids get SO MAD but they love it. Use comprehension questions from your current unit to play.
8. The Unfair Game – Again, so unfair but SO MUCH FUN. All you need is a set of comprehension questions from any unit you are working in.
9. Marker Partner – Make a list of True/False questions. Break the class into two teams. Seat team A in a line and team B will line up each facing a player from team A. (If you have an “odd” player, have them rotate with the last player in line. Place a white board marker, standing upright, between each pair of students. Test run: Have both kids lean in toward the marker to make sure their heads won’t hit. Read statement 1. If it is true, the students should try to grab the marker. No wrestling! The one with the marker in hand is the winner. Count how many markers each team has and award a point to the team with the most. If it’s a tie, give both a point. Play until you’ve gone through all of your statements!
10. Take One, Please – This is a fun way to do comprehension questions.
11. Quip-Lash – When we are reading, I love to ask “who said or would’ve said…” types of questions. Quip-Lash is a fun way to do that!
12. The Scene Machine – Kristy Placido made this game up for a teacher’s guide at Fluency Matters and it is so much fun. Students work in small groups and then get repeated exposure to parts of the story as they try to solve the other groups’ game boards.
13. Write, Draw, Pass – This is almost like the game telephone… but on paper!
14. Musical Chairs Retell – When your group is ready for a little output, give this activity a try!
15. Paper Chain Reading Comprehension – Rather than just having students order events from 1-10 by writing a number on a piece of paper, make some manipulatives. I think having the papers separate really helps them see each event independently. I encourage mine to get them in order before they start forming their paper chains! *Pro hint:* Before I scramble up the events to make the manipulatives, I like to put a word or phrase out in the margin (I use powerpoint to create my documents because it’s so easy to add and move text boxes) so that when I’m grading them, I can easily see if the letters on their links spell the word Like ¡Es correcto! or ¡Quiero agua!
My hope is that this year I will spend as much time having FUN in class as we do on content. FUN doesn’t mean that students aren’t learning! As you look back over these 15 activities, I hope you see that they’re rich in input, are great for reviewing the day’s lesson, and are easy to implement. Here’s to another year of building the plane as we fly!