MJ Live

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Today was a good day (Written 10/18/06)

Today was a good day of teaching – not just any kind of teaching, it was a day of CREATIVE teaching. So during this time of year the students are done with their school exams and done with all their class tasks/projects, the only thing left to do is study for their national exams (like the SAT/ACT only they have a direct effect on whether a student 'graduates' or not). We have about two and a half weeks to do nothing but study for these exams (Year 12 and 13) so you can imagine how boring it could be for my students if I were just doing straight review all that time. Fortunately, this time last year was when I arrived in country and had my OJT (On the Job Training) with Chanel College and I found out a very interesting fact during that short period: these kids love to compete against each other. Now last year I really couldn't use that knowledge because I was only here for a short period of time and I didn't know the students that well. But now I get to use that knowledge to make at least part of the review actually fun for my students. So what idea did I have that would make the review fun AND competitive? Read on to found out…

My idea started out pretty simple – the questions I would ask the students would come from previous PSSC (Pacific Secondary School Certificate) exams for computer studies, that way the students would get a taste of the type of questions they will encounter on this year's test. Then I figured that in order to reach the most amount of students, I would split them up into teams – making sure there was a good distribution of students so that the weaker students weren't all on the same team and all the strong students weren't all on the same team. Now, how would I choose leaders for these teams – some way that would be fair and everyone would have a shot at it. For that part, on Tuesday I had the students compete in a little research game using Microsoft Encarta – I would give them hints about something that could be found in Encarta and the person who found the answer first and told it to me, go the points. It was amazingly effective, but as I feared as soon as one student got kind of far ahead the other students just stopped participating. Good thing I only planned that activity for one day! (This was how team leaders were chosen only for the Year 13 classes, I chose the leaders for the Year 12 classes because there are 3 in one class – thus no teams – and 14 in another class – thus 2 teams). Anyway, today we officially started the game and to make sure all the students participated I limited each person on a team to two answers per day – that way, every student is forced to talk. My strong students always want to answer the question but this makes sure they share their knowledge with the weaker students and the weaker students gain some sort of confidence.

Now to make it interesting for the Year 13 students, I made it so that the teams were not only competing with the other team in their class but also against the teams from the other section of 13 (I have 2 classes of Year 13, 13b and 13c). The winner from both classes will get a prize but the winner with the highest score between the two classes will get first choosing at the prize – that way even if one team in a class gets very far ahead, they'll still have a reason to compete. Ingenius folks – that's simply what this was. It all came together in my head today!

Now, what are the students competing for? Well it's different for Year 13 and Year 12. For Year 12,they are competing for points – the winning team/person for each day of the game will get 2 points added to their final exam. The kids got really excited about this – because I am setting the game up to last 5 days (Wed, Thurs, Fri, Mon and Tues) so there's a chance a person could get 10 points added to their final exam. For the Year 12 class that has a team setup, only the students who are present on that day the team wins will receive the points – so if they don't come to class, they don't get any points. Hopefully it will make them come to class! As for Year 13, they get a physical prize – in my classroom are photos that my mom sent me to put on the walls, the kids love these things and like looking at them – so (and I hope mom doesn't mind) the prize will be those pictures. Each student will be able to pick which picture they want, but the team with the highest points will be able to pick first. The kids don't know what the prize is yet – it is a surprise I hope they really like. But the point of this exercise is to get them to care about getting ready for their national exams and making it as interesting as possible for them to learn. Will it work for the entire 5 day period – I don't know, but it's worth a try right?

If nothing else, it made the day go by so much faster for me – or maybe it's the fact that we're close to the end of the semester. Yeah, it might be the second option….5 weeks to go!  Excelsior!

1 comment:

Mom said...

I do not mind at all. I am glad your students enjoy them and would want the pictures.