After teaching for 25 years, I was in a rut. I have to admit it. But I feel that I have renewed energy. Last summer I decided to try to add more opportunities for my students to get up and out of their seats. I tried to learn everything I could about adding gamification ideas to my teaching. I know that students love a bit of friendly competition. I’ve added a few games to my teaching repertoire, but I’m always looking for more ideas. I added Roll of Dice Poetry last fall, and the kids loved it. They created some beautiful poetry about fall. The use of dice added just a hint of novelty.
And hey, my son’s old D-20 die found new life. Another fun way to add a gaming aspect to my classroom has been to find a use for the students’ Word Wall words. Many teachers have students create individualized vocabulary lists as they read. I like the Word Wall task cards I created, because in addition to asking students to write the word and definition, I also ask them to draw a simple drawing to help them remember the word. The resulting Word Wall task cards make a great bulletin board display, but what then? I created a game called, The Word Wall Games to give the students more opportunities to practice the words.
Students work in teams to earn points. Players get 1 minute to DRAW IT OUT! ACT IT OUT! OR MASHUP! (a combo of acting and drawing.)
It’s like a combination of charades and Pictionary!
Another goal has been to add maker station and maker space ideas to my teaching. I’m proud to say I’ve created the following products which have proven quote successful in the classroom:
So what about 2019? Where to now? I’m definitely going to continue to add maker space ideas and lessons, and I’m also going to continue to add more games to my teaching. I’m going to revamp my I-Search unit for my sophomores. I need to streamline it that’s for sure. I’d like to add more opportunities for student debate, but I think I’ll create some Constructive Cooperative Controversies. These are like debates, but there are not losers. Students must come up with win/win scenarios. I recently created one for my juniors based on the process of creating the Katahdin Woods and Waters monument in Maine. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I need to continue to fight apathy in my students. I’ve seen apathy on the rise in the past few years, and especially in the past 2 years. Two years ago my school decided to do away with students earning zeros for missing work. Another change has been to allow students to pass in late work (without penalty) any time they want. Some students are even asking to pass in late work AFTER the quarter has closed. Lastly, because of the whole performance based education trend, students are allowed to keep retaking assessments until they earn a 3 or a 4. This has resulted in students not really studying the first time around because they know they’ll have almost unlimited opportunities to retake the assessment. It is my opinion that these changes have brought about a rise in apathy.
It’s so difficult to motivate high school students. Some days I long for the time when I taught elementary aged kids. They still loved school, and they still liked their teachers.
I think that if I continue to focus on adding new, fresh teaching ideas to my lesson plans and units, I will not only fight student apathy, but teacher boredom!
Here’s to 2019!