The End of Testing Week = A Beginning for Inspiration
As far as I am concerned, now is a great time of the year in school, and I will not hesitate to tell you why I think so.
State testing is over!
Not that I mind or particularly disagree with standardized testing. I agree that there must be standards for our students and schools to meet. I also kind of like that during that week the whole school is always quiet, orderly, and focused.
But what makes this time great is that it is when I can really incorporate the use of games in education. Spring Fever hits students of all ages, and in order to keep children focused and engaged, a teacher has to be pretty savvy. The winter months of school are spent heavily preparing students to learn the valuable skills that allow them to complete all the activities which most people think are crucial to success in school and in life. What comes to mind? Maybe those such as using correct spelling and grammar, being able to write a paragraph, multiplying and dividing fractions, reducing fractions to lowest terms, or identifying categories of matter in science are many of the subject material that instantly pop into my mind.
And while I know that teaching that material is truly important, there comes a time during every school year when students must be asked to look at concepts in alternate ways, to dig deeper, to really get creative. In other words, there must be a time when we require them to really think without being required to work through the problems devised by their teachers.
The students get bored, my friends, and so do I at this time of year.
So, now is the time when I organize a game day, which has always been successful in previous years. Many students have already been asking when that day will be. I also run “Math Carnival, “ another highly desired method of combining the playing of games with math skill practice. I have written about both of these ideas in other articles.
This year, I have another idea, one that I am hoping will encourage the development of higher order skills at the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy: Analysis, Creative Thinking, and Critical Thinking. I am planning a project by which students take a game already in existence and revise it to be used only with Math concepts. For example, if one were playing Trivial Pursuit, imagine the cards containing only math questions. However, in order to avoid the activities being more of the same, the students will have to use vocabulary, situations, and descriptions for the games. I am not looking for a game in which players draw a card and on that card is 9×7=?, because that would be too basic. I am imagining inventions that show evidence of of deeper thinking. For instance, “Thinkit-Linkits” is a word game by which players must guess rhyming vocabulary based on clues. A “Wet Canine,” therefore, would be a “Soggy Doggy. “ So, if students were to revise that type of game all the clues and answers would involve math vocabulary.
I am very excited to get these activities rolling. I am hoping to witness active engagement at every step of the process, from planning, to writing, to creating, to playing.