4 Review Activities that promote High Level thinking and student discussion about YOUR content

As we look toward the end of a lesson, a unit, or even a school year, we plan time to review the content. This often results in asking students questions (sometimes in creative ways to make the review a game or more fun). I love me a fun game for review, but when I think about the level of thinking in order for the review to be quick and teams to be able to take turns, it usually ends up being pretty low-level questions – recalling and regurgitating information. The other thing I often observe (ahem… and maybe did a lot as a teacher) during reviews (especially prior to a big assessment) is talk a lot. I never meant to talk my students’ ears off – I always started with a review game of some sort and then if a student got something wrong, or if we came to a topic I felt the class still didn’t fully understand, I would suddenly break into lecture mode for 5-10 minutes to tell them everything I wanted to make sure they knew about the topic. As if hearing me talk about it would cement it in their brains? I think we sometimes think if we make sure we tell them everything one more time before the big test, they’ll get it… but that is far from the truth.

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Texas Winter Storm Share-Write-Discuss Process Activity

Texas just went through a pretty major winter storm event which kept students across the state home from school. Many of our students made wonderful and scary memories because of this event. Some of our students saw snow for the first time in their lives, but also lost power and may have been freezing and hungry in their homes. No matter what they experienced, our students will walk in our school doors (or Zoom or Google Meet screens) wanting to talk about their experiences. I believe we should most definitely allow students time and freedom to discuss and share their experiences… but at the same time… YIKES! We just lost 5 instructional days!!! How can we value our students, allow them to process and share, but not lose more time?!?! Play a quick game of Stand Up If… followed by a quick write and small group share. 15 minutes or less will allow ALL students to share, feel heard, and hear from other students.

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Making My Best Year Ever

In chatting with my fourth-grade daughter about New Year’s Resolutions and setting goals for the new year, I provided several prompts to help her think about what she wanted to do better, learn more about, remember, and improve on. In prompting her, I realized I needed to take time to reflect on these same prompts before setting goals for myself! When I told her that I wanted to be a better mom, wife, and principal, she was quick to tell me that I didn’t need to improve – I was already a grown up! This led to an awesome conversation where I got to share that as humans we are never done growing and learning and getting better and that I was definitely going to be thinking and reflecting and setting goals for improvement, too.

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Thanksgiving Printable Games

I love the whole idea of Thanksgiving – that we should take time to reflect on our blessings and be grateful for the good things in our lives. I also love a great game! Combining those two loves… I have template for you with directions for TWO printable games – Thanksgiving Categories (think Scattergories with Thanksgiving prompts) and I’m Thankful For… which challenges players to think of something they are thankful for that goes with EVERY letter of the alphabet – with points for every unique answer!

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Fall-themed Mystery Prize and Points Template

A huge trend among our young students right now is collecting mystery reveal prizes. These are sometimes referred to as “blind bags”. These are a series of toys or figurines that kids buy without being able to tell which one they are going to get. Some are labeled as “Common” and others are “Rare” or “Ultra Rare” – which are, of course, highly coveted. I brainstormed with my daughter (who loves these mystery reveal prizes, by the way) how I might create a template that mirrors the excitement and fun of revealing a prize while practicing school work. I also wanted the template to be useful as both a DIGITAL template for online learners AS WELL AS a PRINTABLE for use without a computer. Here’s what we came up with:

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Create Textured Backgrounds using Procreate

I love sharing ideas on this blog that I think will either help teachers, save time, or engage students… but lately, as we are all working harder than ever before to teach through this pandemic, I am at a loss for what I can do to help other educators (or myself). So, this post veers slightly off course from what I normally share, but does answer a few requests I have received asking me to show how I make the backgrounds for my slide decks (like the backgrounds in my Student Planner and To-Do List Post and the backgrounds in my Rank & Justify Slides Template).

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Student Spotlight online or printable

On my campus, all of our teachers are teaching both online (to remote students) and face-to-face (with students physically in the classroom) simultaneously. We are working hard to keep relationship building and a strong classroom culture a top priority – especially since about half of the students in each class will be learning from home. One common idea for helping students connect to each other is asking them to answer some get to know you questions and then spotlighting one student per week or per day until all students have shared. Traditionally, at schools across the world, this has been done by cutting and gluing pictures onto poster board. In an effort to keep passing of papers at a minimum and to level the playing field with an assignment that students can complete online or can be printed and completed with paper and pencil, I created a Student Spotlight template!

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Hybrid Activities that can be completed Digitally or with Paper and Pencil

My district, like many others across the world, is offering families choice in how they receive instruction this fall. Families can choose face to face or distance instruction. At first thought, this task seems like teachers will have to create twice the activities – some for students to complete in person, and others for those students that will need to complete everything digitally. BUT on second thought, we can work smarter, not harder! Here are a few ideas (links to snag a copy of all templates below) for HYBRID activities using google slides that can be completed by students digitally or printed and completed with a pen or pencil.

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Virtual Meet the Teacher

On my campus, we are making plans to have our first ever VIRTUAL Meet the Teacher. While we can’t safely invite all parents and students into the building at this time, we still want everyone to get to meet their teacher and have a quick get-to-know-you conversation, see the classroom, practice walking from their entrance to class, AND we still need to gather lots of information from families. We know that just like when homeroom letters went home in the past, when these Virtual Meet the Teacher’s go out, parents and students will talk to each other and compare who got who. We want this to be a GREAT first impression for ALL of our teachers – so myself and three teachers from my school (Kelsey French, Brittany Laurell, and Ina Nguyen) developed a template for all teachers on campus to use with easy to follow instructions so that we all make the same GREAT first impression.

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