Guest blog by Lisa Watson and Jodi Roper, second-grade teachers at Martha Reid Leadership Academy in Mansfield ISD.
Student engagement is something we greatly value and strive for everyday. We know that student engagement can help students understand and remember concepts taught in the classroom. This is one of the main reasons we decided to spend our time, energy, and money into classroom transformations this year. This classroom transformation was our fourth one of the year.
This time around we got inspired by a post made by Hope King right before the Super Bowl. The post suggested that we do a jeopardy type game with a football theme and with each correctly answered question the team would move down the field. Within three days we designed, organized, and had a plan to execute it all. All we needed to do was pull together review questions, get duct tape to create a field, whistles, and pennies. We told the students to wear their favorite team jersey while, we wore referee shirts. It was shaping up to be the easiest transformation to date!
We set the stage by holding team drafts, listening to football music, and talking about the Super Bowl. The students were so excited to “play” in the Super Bowl. We started out by having students answer review questions. They had to score to move onto the next level of play. During the process, we eliminated teams to end up with 2 teams headed to the Super Bowl.
You know when you have an idea of how the lesson is supposed to go and it doesn’t go as planned? Well, that is how this transformation went. It was easy and engaging but we definitely walked away with things that need to be tweaked for next year. We had envisioned that everything would run perfectly like our last few transformations, but here is what happened. Our students were over-excited about the process (the Super Bowl) and couldn’t focus on the important parts (the concepts). Nobody could make it down the field because nobody wanted to take the time to think through the questions. We had divided the kids into multiple teams and they struggled waiting for their turn to play. The excitement turned into behavior issues and the “referees” had a hard time keeping the game going and maintaining control. We walked away a little overwhelmed with how the day went. Upon reflecting, we decided that our focus should be on adding something for the teams that weren’t playing, or figure out a way that more teams could play at once, or maybe a way that each team could answer the questions.
When things don’t go well in our class, it never creates great feelings. It takes courage to address the reasons why and willingness to change.
Don’t get us wrong the students loved this transformation— maybe a little too much. So we leave you with this question, What do you do when a good lesson goes bad? Do you keep moving towards the goal or do you fall to your opponent?