Technology Pursuit

Blending Technology Into the Language Arts Classroom

Month: August 2019

Gamifying “Book Speed Dating”

My students have long enjoyed playing Bring Your Own Book, where they find short phrases for such prompts as “Name of a Romance Novel” or “Title of a Christmas Song.”

This year, I wanted to spice up my book dating day, so I launched “BYOB Speed Dating.” Here’s how it worked:

Students selected a book from the pile of 10 books on their table (ones I preselected to cover a variety of interests and reading levels.) Each student then had 3 minutes to select a phrase from the opening pages for that prompt. Prompts varied from “Superhero Catchphrase” to “Pro Wrestler Name” to “Phrase you don’t want to hear your grandmother say” (Side note: Do remind students of being school appropriate 😉

I also use PearDeck for this activity. It allows complete anonymity. However, you can go “non-tech” and use post it notes or scratch paper, too.

For the first round, I select my favorite as the winner. Each student group then rotates to the next table, and the previous winner becomes the judge for the next round.

Not only does the game provide more purpose to looking through the books, but it gets students more engaged in the first few pages. By the end of the day, I had at least a dozen students who’d already claimed books to start reading.

Visual Syllabus & Post It Note Questions

I’d been planning on eschewing any usual spiel on the first day of school (which I usually do), but when the morning of the first day arrived, I wasn’t so sure. I had juniors who’d enrolled in Brit or American Lit last spring and were already asking me questions about why we combined them. (It’s a small town. I run into students EVERYWHERE).

Plus, I know that my student self thrives for seeing that syllabus and seeing what to expect in the coming semester.

In a last minute change, I decided to have students write questions for me, still allowing me to skip the typical spiel and just answer the burning questions they had. Each table group received 4 post-it notes, and they were responsible for writing a question for me on each one.

To give students a little schema about our upcoming syllabus, I created a visual one on Google Slides. In less than 5 minutes, I pasted images that represented some of units and topics we’d be encountering.

After each group wrote their questions, they put them into a bucket, and I pulled out 10 that I answered. A few were about the visual syllabus, but most of them were about me and our class protocols (perhaps this is a reminder that even students value relationships more than content).

Another worthy note: Not a SINGLE student asked about grades. None. Zilch.

After 10 questions, I gave the option of another activity or to continue with the questions. All but one class voted to continue the questions–and even that vote was a pretty even split.

Later in the day, the new teacher next door tried this activity after she’d tired of her spiel. The results: fantastic! Students asked honest questions about being a new teacher, and she answered them honestly, too. That’s some powerful relationship building.

It wasn’t a flashy first day activity, but an effective one.

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