Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It's the Little Things that Make Life Fun!

It never ceases to amaze me how the simplest of things sometimes catch the attention of my third graders.  There are times I feel like I'm up there teaching my heart out, and I feel like they're off in space somewhere; and then there are times I throw something together in a second and they are absolutely enthralled with what we're doing!

So last week, we were full swing into review as our state tests are coming up in a couple weeks.  We were working on Main Idea, which is not a particularly fun topic, and not always the easiest thing for them.  After we worked in small groups to review what main idea was and do some mundane passage practice, I wasn't quite ready to leave the topic. 

I didn't want to do anymore more "read the passage & answer the questions" at the moment because by then, they were just done with that.  I had some task cards saved on my computer that I had purchased on TPT that I thought I could pull up on the active board for us to go over.  I knew that with how hard we had been working, I was already at great risk of losing them though. 

So, I decided to make things a little more interesting for them (& SO simple for me).  I put them into 3 teams. Each team got 4 pieces of construction paper--each one had a different letter on it: A, B, C, or D.  They would use these to show their teams answer choice for that particular question.  I gave them a print out of the answer choices for each passage & question that would be on the board, and I gave each group 20 cups.  Yes....cups.  This is what made it so intriguing for them.  (Like I said, it's the little things.)

What we did:
1. I would show the first task card on the active board (as you can see in the background of the picture above).
2. I would read the passage on the card, ask the question, and read the answer choices aloud (they had the answer choices printed out as well so they wouldn't constantly be asking me to repeat the choices).
3. Students then quietly discussed it with their team & chose the corresponding letter card (construction paper).  They laid their answer card face down on their table. 
4. When all teams were ready, I had them all reveal their answers at the same time.
5. For every question they got correct, they got to add a cup to their "structure" they were building.  They weren't allowed to touch or move that added cup anymore once the next question began. 

The goal: To see who could build the tallest structure by the time the first team ran out of cups, or we ended the game (whichever one came first).  If any of their cups feel in the process, those went back into their original stack of cups to use and were no longer a part of their existing structure.  Teams could also lose a cup from their structure if they had team members not participating, if they touched one of their cups after they were allowed to, or if they were talking while the question was being read.

They LOVED it!  They all worked closely together to both answer questions and build their structures.  They had so much fun, all while working on the mundane skill of main idea. 

All it took were some task cards on the active board, construction paper, and cups....Simple!

The Winning Team:

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