Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ratty Scraps & Game Tables (Dear Katie V2 #4)

Dear Katie,

As I said earlier, in order to make logical, orderly arguments, you need to have facts to back them up.  If you have an extended period to respond, one could use the internet or other resources to discover the best arguments.  Often, you are put on the spot to defend your point of view and will not have time to even access Siri (and if you did, what would the person listening think about your intelligence).  For this reason, there will ALWAYS be a point to memorize facts to have at your disposal when discussing events of the day.

As I said in a previous post, I often use games to help with memorizing facts (it's the whole "spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" philosophy of Mary Poppins).  In my classes this year, each student was placed on a team.  Each week, they competed for points that would help them earn weekly points (or in our case, "Wins and Losses", the team with the most points finished the week with 14 wins and 6 losses, the last place team with 6 wins and 14 losses, the other teams received wins and losses in between those two, based on their points for the week).  At the end of the marking period (or "Season") we would have a champion.

One way students earned weekly points for their team was through our "Dice Game" played a few times each week.  Here is how it worked.

1) Kids would sit with their teams to start class.

2) I would then have them go to "Game Tables" where they would sit with one member from each of the other teams.  On their way to the game table, they would pick up a "Ratty Scrap" (thanks to my AP English teach, Miss Logan, for that.)  A Ratty Scrap is a small piece of scrap paper, each team had their own color).

3) I would ask 5 questions, and then they would drop the ratty scrap into a baseball helmet.  They would return to their game tables.

4) I would review the answers and then pick out one ratty scrap per team (based on color of the scrap) and determine how many questions that teammate had correct.

5) For each correct answer, the team member would go to the Smartboard and role a dice for each question they had correct.  This would be added to their weekly point total.

The odds increase for you to roll more die, and thus get a higher total the more questions that team members have correct.  I have had teams with 2 die rolls do better than a team with 5, but over time, the teams that prepare better will have the higher totals for the "season".

Another positive of this system is that team members encourage and help each other study in order to increase their chances to roll more die.  And I have seen students who do not care about studying before "crack the books" in order not to let their team down.

Anyway, just another scheme in my bag of tips for you to think about using and/or modifying when get your own classroom.

Uncle Kevin

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