Last year, I spent a couple of days shadowing students. Each day, I got a sub and followed a student around all day, going to their classes, doing their assignments, eating lunch with them. I even did the reading ahead of time so that I could participate in the discussion in English. I learned a lot. For instance, I thought I knew a good bit of theology, but I failed the quiz they took that day in worldview.
It was however, a very long day of sitting.
There’s a lot of research about how kids need to move, and it’s mostly geared at little kids. “Give them four recesses a day!” are headlines that I see on Twitter and the like. I teach juniors and seniors. They don’t get recess. But I know that after a few hours of sitting in in-service, I’m bored and tired and my brain shuts off. I want my students to move. Even a little bit.
All of that leads me to my favorite classroom game: shots.
No, no, no! Not alcohol! They’re underage! Although I routinely wonder when an administrator is going to walk in right as a student says, “Can we do this for shots?” or chants “Shots! Shots! Shots!” These are daily sayings in my classroom. *sigh*
Anyways, I have a mini basketball hoop on the back of my door, and some spots marked on the wall: 1 point, 2 points, 3 points. If a student makes a shot from behind that spot, they earn their team that number of points and go and mark it on the poster board that I’ve had hanging in the room since August.
My school has every high school student divided up into a house (think Harry Potter, minus the boarding school aspect), so we play where they’re earning teams for their houses. You could do it a lot of ways, though – just create teams out of thin air. Period 1 vs Period 5. Guys vs girls. Blondes vs brunettes. Whatever.
There are a variety of actions that earn a kid a shot, and I occasionally add more randomly. The standard ones are turning in papers and completing a certain number of problems. The goal is to get them moving – if you turn your own paper in, you can take a shot; if you hand your paper to a friend to turn in, you don’t. I don’t really care about whether or not they turn their own papers in, but I care a lot about whether or not they sit the entire hour that they’re in the room.
Most of the kids love it. I have a few who will do anything for shots. They first thing they ask me when they walk in is will there be any shots today. They are excited about doing their examples because then they can take shots. There are times when the entire class will pause their work to watch someone take a shot.
A few don’t want to participate, and that’s fine. They’re almost adults, and they have the right to decide what they’re going to do with themselves in my class, to certain limits. But most play. And more importantly to me, most get out of their desks without complaining several times an hour. Is it the same as recess? No, of course not. But it’s better than sitting still, and it makes class a whole lot more fun.
*This post was going to include pictures, but I came down with a cold and forgot to take them today. Oops.
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