A few weeks ago I had my first Formal Observation, which is when the Principal sits in on an entire class period and completes an evaluation. Evaluations done by administrators use an evaluation system called Marzano that calculates whether you are 1) Beginning 2)Developing 3)Effective or 4)Highly Effective. Most first year teachers start off in the 1-2 range and work their way up to 3. Highly effective ratings are really difficult to come by, even for experienced teachers. There’s an explanation as to why that is, but maybe I’ll break down the point system and the details of my evaluation at a later date. Long story short, I KILLED MY EVALUATION!! Lol. In a number of areas I received the highest marks one can get, which for now has brought my total rating up from effective to highly effective.
During that evaluation I had my students play 3 different review games. Each game was timed and had very specific instructions for the students to follow. It turns out that these games were designed in such a way that they hit very specific Marzano Elements that I didn’t even realize existed. LOL. Marzano Elements are instructional strategies and we are evaluated on how well we use these strategies. The more you employ at one time, the better.
I had initially intended to use games only for review for upcoming tests, but I very quickly realized that I could use games to TEACH material too. In the process, students get to PRACTICE important skills. So the last few weeks I have been incorporating games into my classes on a weekly basis. A “game” is basically a challenge where students are given a task to complete and they compete against their classmates. Some challenges are simple and quick while some are more complex or require multiple days of preparation. It all depends.
There’s all sorts of games that I’ve come up with so far and they include everything from improv/theater to trivia. Today I’m going to share one example.
Below you’ll see the “games” we played in class today. These were very simple and most people have probably played something similar before.
I will be spending this entire 2nd quarter working with my students on reading comprehension so I had them work on learning and memorizing pre-fixes. I used two different sets of pre-fixes which means we played each game TWICE!! Enjoy reading.
- Stations # 1-4 are posted on the walls throughout the room.
- Students pack up all their stuff, leave their book bags at their seat, and go to a station. How we determine groups can vary. Sometimes I count off. Sometimes I let the students pick. Sometimes I pick team captains and then they take turns selecting their team mates. It’s always varies. Today we counted off.
- I give directions to the students and have them re-explain it back to me
- Materials: Timer, whistle, sheets of paper or flip chart paper, Pre-Fix baggies, projector, laptop with word document that has the answer key.
Activity 1: Pre-Fix Matching
- Time Limit: 6 min (time starts when I blow the whistle).
- Directions: A member of each group must grab a baggie and return to their station. Groups will empty the baggy to find slips of paper. Half of them have a pre-fix and the other half have a definition. Groups must match each pre-fix to its definition.
- When time is up I blow the whistle for students to stop working. Then I put the answer key up on the projector. One student from each group is sent to another group to check how many matches the group got correct. I keep track of scores on the board. Team with the most matches gets Excellence Tickets.
Activity 2: Pre-Fix Examples
- Time Limit: 2 min
- Directions: A member of each group must grab a sheet of flip chart paper (or regular printer paper) and return to their group. Groups must write down one “word example” for each pre-fix.
- When time is up I go around to check which group wrote the most examples down. Winning group gets Excellence Tickets.
Activity 3: Pre-Fix Lists
- Time Limit: 1 min
- Directions: A student randomly picks a pre-fix out of a baggie. Whatever the pre-fix is, each group has one minute to write as many “word examples” as they can for that pre-fix. Winning group gets Excellence Tickets. (Ex: if the pre-fix is “trans” the students will list examples of words that use that pre-fix. Some of the words used today were “transfer, transgender, transcontinental, transition”)
- REPEAT activity as many times as you can
- Quick Thinking
- Accessing prior knowledge
- Revising knowledge
- Following Directions
- 100% engagement in one class. Around 90% engagement in 3 classes. And then one class was pretty much a disaster. The students were very talkative end would take a while to settle down before I could explain the directions for the next activity. We didn’t get much done in this class. Eventually I gave up and we didn’t finish the activity.
- No students were on their phones but in a few classes there was 1 or 2 students who were not allowed to play because of misbehavior. They were given the materials to complete the activity and received a grade for participation but they could not compete for Excellence Tickets and had to complete the assignment on their own.
- During Activity 1 many students debated with each other about how to match the pre-fixes to their definitions. This is great because it forced students to examine their reasoning and defend their logic. They get to practice communication and then collaborate to come to a decision.
- Students were enthusiastic to have the responsibility of checking another group’s answers.
- It always feels rewarding to see my more bored and careless students get involved in these types of activities. I think they grew more confident once they realized that pre-fixes are familiar to them and they only need to use what they already know.