I’ve reached the point of my Teacher Assisting career where I am wrapping up my final unit. I was fortunate enough to have a CT that allowed me to take the reigns and teach two full units this semester, so it is crazy that it is coming to an end. However, I am reaching this point feeling extremely accomplished. This also means that this week is Test Week. I had to squeeze in my final observation with my content-area professor, so I had him observe on Monday when we were reviewing. I had designed my very own review game for the students to play, and even as we were approaching the day-of, I was a little unsure of how I felt about it. I had mixed-feelings about review games, as I’m sure many teachers do. It seems a lot of times students focus more on winning than they do on the content, or the students who aren’t getting it just sit back and let the students who are do all the work. So, one of my goals was to have the students actually gain knowledge from the game that would help them prepare for the test the next day, while also making sure every student was working. My idea was to have them get into the groups that their seating arrangements already had them divided into, after which I would number them off 1-4 in their groups. After they had their number, they had to keep this number the whole game. Each round of the game, a chart would pop up that had 4 different problems numbered 1-4. Each person was responsible for completing whatever problem matched their own number. Once every person in the group had completed their problem, the designated “number” for each group would report each teammates’ answer on the board. After the answers were revealed, we tallied up each groups points.
As I mentioned before, one of my main goals of this lesson was to make sure that every student was engaged during the game. That was the main reason I designed the game the way I did, with having each person complete a designated problem. Overall, I thought it went really well. Each student seemed to be really into the game and doing their own problem every time that a new round started. We had a few issues with a team “perfectionist,” if you will, doing everyone’s problems for them, but after explaining that we needed to let everyone solve their own problem and only help if they needed it, all was well. The game produced the kind of energy in the room I was hoping for; excitement, focus, and a competitive spirit. As my professor pointed out, this kind of game works really well for middle-schoolers because it allows them to release their energy by getting up and writing their answers on the board, celebrating if their answers are right, and then focus all that energy back in to concentrate on the next problem. It was really awesome to see something I came up with on my own come to life (and not be a complete bust). When I asked for honest feedback, I got some really great tips. One thing I wished I had done that my professor pointed out was that my students didn’t have anything to bring home with them or look back on from the activity. If they got any questions wrong during the game, they just moved on and never were able to go back and see why or what the problem was because they weren’t provided with a hard copy of the problems. If I were to do this again, I would definitely give the students a hard copy of all the problems at the end of the game for some type of review before the test the next day. Although the majority of my students were engaged during the game like I’d hoped for, there was one student that seemed to be the outlier. She was sitting off to the side not participating 100% of the time, kind of off in her own world. This made me wonder what I could do to make this activity more engaging to her or what I could have done to help her better understand what was going on if she was lost. So even though the majority of the class was engaged, it was still my goal to make sure the entire class was participating. For next time, I will try to be more alert and aware of what I can do to make sure this happens.
Here is my review game:
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”