It’s all Fun and Games

Posted: April 14, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about what do on the day before spring break when there will be a few too many people absent to do something new and a few too many people present to just do fluff all day. I planned my formal assessments for the day before the last day since I actually needed everyone to do them.

Then I planned a super-fun, if I do say so myself, day of running around and showing me what you know about Ancient China. Yes, you read that correctly. Why don’t I tell you about it.

First, the background:

  • We have been studying Ancient China.
  • I gave a map quiz, but needed to assess student knowledge on dynasties etc.
  • I really didn’t want to give a standard test.

Here’s what I thought about as I planned:

  • This blog post by Hadley Ferguson about how a colleague of hers combines physical activity and coursework.
  • If we’ve been doing group work maybe I should try group assessment.
  • I wonder what my kids would like to do?

Step 1:

  • I talked with my class about the fact that I needed to know what they had learned.
  • I posted on our class blog asking for suggestions of games or activities we could play.
  • We reviewed the many helpful blog comments and had more discussion in class.

Step 2:

  • I settled on 3 games (a version of “The Amazing Race,” memory, and a version of Capture the Flag)
  • I spend a ton of time making the games, the answer sheets, laminating, color coding, etc.
  • I make charts to record “data” as the games progressed.

Step 3:

  • Let the games begin
And the results are in: VICTORY!
Proof it was a success (another list):
  • I overheard more than 1 student say “I studied so much.”
  • I also overheard someone say, “I forgot my notes so I read over the whole chapter. It took me forever.”
  • All of the above was said with smiles and excitement.
  • I am NOT kidding.
  • Students had a great time running around looking for clues and answering questions in “The Amazing Race.”
  • They strategized and made secret signals to get information to team members in the dynasty memory game.
  • They huddled to perfect their explanations for the tough questions in “Capture the Dynasty.”
  • I got plenty of information about who knew what.
  • We all went home happy.
(Photo by Dennis Jarvis used under Creative Commons license)
  1. hadleyjf says:

    This is so exciting! I would love to know more about how you set it up. I am constantly trying to come up with ways to do more of this. Students love being up and “doing,” rather than sitting. And when you combine that with giving them choices and power to make and build it, it totally changes their learning experience.

    Maybe there is a way to do simultaneous “races” around a common topic. Let’s think about it.

    So glad you added to what I had learned! Hadley

  2. mseiteljorg says:

    It would be great to join forces.

    I would be happy to give you more details. For “Capture the Dynasty” it was 5 minute rounds of capture the flag (1/2 class on each team). If a team got the flag, they got to choose the question they wanted to answer and the question the other team answered. These were longer format answers. Then they discussed and 2 or 3 representatives spoke for each team. I awarded “The Dynasty” to the best answer (if the flag had been captured that team got a bonus and won if they had an acceptable answer). We played 4 rounds because we had studied 4 major time periods/dynasties.

    For the memory game I had 20 red papers (big 8×12 inches) each with a fact from a particular dynasty. I also had 5 large orange papers with dates for each dynasty. Then there were 25 small yellow paper with corresponding dynasties listed (obviously many repeats here). There were 2 memory boards set up, each 5 x 5. The class was divided into 3 teams. On each turn a student turned over 1 card from each board and told me if it was a match. If it was a match, and they knew it, they kept the set. If not, I asked what dynasty would make it a match. They whispered the answer to me and I put a check or x for them in the appropriate box. I had numbered each card and coded them in groups to dynasties and made a chart with this information on one side and names of students on the other. We played this for almost an hour I would say. Didn’t get all the matches. It was a little slow. Might need more teams with fewer players or 2 games at once?

    The Amazing Races was based on the show. There were clues that sent pairs of students to a particular location. Then at the location they found an envelop, pulled out their color card and looked at the 2 answer choices to the question. Wrote down their answer on answer sheet. Then, they returned to the room to get the next clue. I shuffled the order of the clues so that teams were going different places.

    It was a lot of preparation, but once we go going, I got to sit back and observe. It was a great day.

    I would love to do something together. I have had a figurative language olympics in the past. A lot less moving around, but we could alter that, and would work with different content. Let’s keep thinking about it!

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