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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Popcorn paper ball quiz

In an effort to lighten up today...and provide students to talk and move, my student teacher and I came up with a game to play.

Students are reading the novel Speak in class.

Right now, during our testing schedule, they are getting a lot of extra time to read.

For many of them, the time is desperately needed.

But we can only read, write, and sit for so long.

We realized we needed to do something different by the end of the first day.

I suggested a game.

My student teacher admitted that connecting games to content usually feels artificial and hard to manage.

Me too. Games can be cumbersome.

Plus I really don't like loud noises.

Or yelling.

Or chaotic swanning about.

But I like games when they are well-constructed, you know, purposeful.

My real problem with games is probably that I just don't spend quite enough time thinking through the logistics. I'm more a jump first, figure it out on the way down kind of person.


We brainstormed for a while.

We came to a couple of easy conclusions: the kids needed a quiz, and the kids needed to play.

One popular game we finally mentioned was trashketball (throwing paper balls at the trash in some orderly system or another).

That is one of the games that feels like a stretch to me....mostly because usually only one person shoots at a time and that leaves a ton of down time for everyone else.

Then I said, "What if we made it like a paper ball quiz?"

She looked at me as she thought about it and replied "Like they write questions and trade papers by throwing them?"

"Yeah, but I want them to throw more than once."

"Like popcorn reading, but with quiz questions?"

"Sort of...what if the kids wrote a question and then crumpled up their papers and threw them. Then the next person would answer the question? Then would they write the next question?" I was thinking out loud.

She responded "I like that. Can we do it so we don't have to collect and read crumpled paper?"

"Oh, that's brilliant! So they need two sheets of paper? One for questions and one for answers and we only collect the second one?"

"That sounds good. Are they just writing one question? What if it sucks? Plus, are we only throwing once or are we stopping each round to write questions?" she said.

"Good points. Or if its too hard a question? And somebody who struggles gets it? What if they write three questions first and we throw three times? Then they can pick which question they want to answer?" I suggested.

She thought about it a little more and replied "Yeah, I like that. I think that will work."

We smiled.

The next morning, I came into my classroom and thought "ooh, I better write some directions for that game real quick!"

I opened the computer to find the directions were already written.

My student teacher had written them before she left the day before. (ahmmm, uh, that's awesome)

I suggested a couple of minor tweaks, but it reflected exactly what we talked about the previous day.

So we tried it.

And it worked brilliantly.

The kids had a blast. Everyone participated. I got pegged in the head like 7 times.

Everyone turned in a quiz.

At the end of one hour, a student who is a little shy and very hard of hearing came over to me and said "That was the best quiz I have ever taken."

I heard a lot of requests to take quizzes like this more often and wonderings if they could do this in other classes.

Our collaborative desire to bring a little relief to the serious stressfulness of testing week resulted in the development of a game I will definitely use again and again.

Nice work, us.

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