Rookie Year: Day 37 or Team No Elks

We did a review game today in class to prepare for unit test tomorrow. I had the students organize in groups of three. Using problems from the Chapter 2 Test in our textbook, I would ask each team to solve together and then write their answer on the board. If they got it wrong, I gave the other teams a chance to steal. So even when it wasn’t their teams turn, the teams had to do the work so they were ready to give an answer if they successfully buzzed in to steal.

To buzz in on the steal, I gave the class my google phone number so that I wouldn’t have their number and they wouldn’t have mine. The first team to text me through the Google Voice got a chance to take the points away. We played in rounds and I upped the difficulty and point value each round, working down the Chapter Test. To keep track of which team I was on, I would either write the points they earned if they answered correctly or an “X” if they answered in-correctly. I also did lightning rounds. I offered candy to the winners and some “bonus” participation points to everyone.

This review game isn’t that complicated or revolutionary, but I owe a lot to two of my former high school history teachers, from whom I largely ripped off the format. They also had a square they put on the board and a ball that you had to throw. I may incorporate this next time, but it takes up a lot of marker.

Also, the point system that I have been using and described in my last post bothers me a little, but I have been working to make sure that the students grades are still supposed to be an accurate indicator of their understanding with a hybrid-SBG system. The concept list and the unit tests make up a majority of their grade. The students I have respond to participation grades and bonus points and I need them to buy in more than I need an ideologically SBG “pure” grading system.

Most of my blocks loved the review game. In first block I have a few “Why are we doing this, this is stupid” students, but most of them played along. The middle block was so loud when a team got one right that I think the class above us was knocking on the floor to tell us to shut up. The final block was not as loud, but they were the most competitive. They started calling themselves “Team No Elks” because for some reason they decided to say “X” as “Elks”. I asked a student that I trust if elks was slang for something inappropriate and they told me no, so I chalked it up to that team being engaged in the game, which I was excited about. So I erased Team 2 off the board and wrote “Team No Elks” instead.

At one point I misread their answer and told them it was wrong and started to offer a steal to the class. The team was super disappointed because they had made it so far without getting any wrong. One of them erased the “No” from “Team No Elks”. But then I realized I had read the inequality backwards and they had answered correctly. I put the “No” back in the name and then wrote my own name on the board with an “x” under it. The class got a kick out of that.

So overall I think the review game went well. To keep everyone engaged I told them that all students must write down all questions with work for bonus points. Also the steal system was there to make sure they stayed on tasks. I had a few disengaged students in every block and my loudest block tired themselves out yelling, they asked to stop a few minutes before the end of the time.

Although the game was a success and many of my students were able to answer all of the questions I posed, I am still concerned about how the exam will go tomorrow. It’s one thing to have the help of your group and another to do it all alone. The other two tests did not go well, but the other Foundations teachers are reporting the same. The first 9 weeks are almost over and I hope that this will be a chance for me and my students to come back to the class with fresh hearts and minds.

Thanks for reading.

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