The first lesson I came up with was inspired by Dave Burgess. Dave wrote a book entitled ‘Teach Like a Pirate’. This book, Dave’s tweets, and his Professional Development with the school district I taught in gave me even more fire to push my lessons outside of the norm. I always tell my students that normal is boring. I find this to be especially true with teaching. Students do not want to be told a lesson; they want to become a part of it.
The first lesson was a jungle theme called ‘Treacherous Waters’! In Treacherous Waters, the students were separated in groups and had to travel through a river from dock to dock. While they were at each dock they had tasks to complete and they could only travel if the weather was clear. Each task involved multiplication, division or a word problem with one of the orders of operation. The classroom was transformed into an Amazonian river with various docks and challenges along the way incorporating dangerous and friendly animals. Trees enveloped the class and sounds of the jungle echoed throughout. Luckily for my students, I was that crazy teacher decked out in camouflage cargo shorts, combat boots, a Crocodile Dundee’s hat paired with a wild imagination.
Another great thing about this lesson is that I had students from other classrooms trying to see what was going on and wondered if they were doing it in their classrooms. Word spread rapidly. Recess and lunch were all abuzz with talk of Mr. Cross’ grass door concealing the jungle behind it. Parents came up to me asking if their child in a younger grade could have me as a teacher since I “made things fun and educational”. That moment has continued to be an honor and has motivated me to continue to be an outgoing and innovative teacher.
Another fun activity I created was to have a test review game of some sort before every test. I love the idea of being a game show host in my classroom; everyone is full of positivity and always excited to participate, even when they are just audience members. In addition to the game show, I have a test review packet that is almost identical to the test. It is a shorter version of the test with questions similar in style, but different values for numbers. The test review would be assigned for homework the night before the test, and the key is posted on Instagram. This would be in addition to my homework help website linked through padlet.com.
My favorite game show lesson is when the class is transformed into The Price is Right. I got this great outfit from a local thrift shop, made various centers that were themed around decimals and The Price is Right games, and I even had a spinner. It was a great way to allow my students to yell out and be excited for each other - even despite the intimidating subject, math. They loved every part of it and were excited to help plan the next game show review. They contributed ideas and we decided the next game show would be Jeopardy. It gave me so much encouragement to make each game show lesson and review even more exciting and fun than the last.
This coming school year I want to incorporate these game shows into more lessons aside from just the review lessons. I continue to look for ideas from various educators on Twitter and hope to collaborate with them to show them what I have done. One way that has given me the most exposure in collaboration is making a chat with my innovative teacher partner, Lauren Taylor. She and I started a Twitter chat that we hope develops into much more. The chat is called #InnoEd, and has brought so many thoughts, emotions and experiences out into the open. I would not have been able to come up with these on my own.
Have you used similarly fun methods in your classroom? Tell us about it in the comments.