It’s the Final Countdown!

This time of year, I can’t help but start to hear that song in my head as I pump myself up for the school day. I don’t know about YOUR class, but this time of year, they are starting to shut down.

Of course, I can’t blame them, because teachers are also distracted by all the end of the year grades and phone calls home and paperwork and meetings and planning and testing and…. well, you know what I mean!

So, how do we beat the overwhelming apathy? How do we keep them engaged in learning?

Gamify ANYTHING you can gamify!

1- The Unfair Game is a great, low-prep option. You can read more about that HERE.

2- You could play good, old-fashioned baseball with review questions. You will have to create the questions before starting the game, or simply use questions from previous exams if you are reviewing for a final exam. In this game, you simply draw a baseball diamond on the board and move the teams around the bases by answering questions that are of varying difficulty (single, double, triple or homerun). You can play with 2-4 teams. I have found that more than that seems to have many students not participating at any given time.

3- Of course, there are online options like Blooket, Gimkit, Quizizz and Kahoot. All of these are great options to keep students engaged.

4- This time of year, I appreciate crosswords for vocabulary review. It is an easy way to allow students to self-check their review AND keeps them off screens.

5- Trashketball is another fun variation of the baseball game. It involves a rolled up piece of paper with some duct tape over it and an empty bucket or trashcan. I usually have point lines on the floor with colored masking tape. A student or group (if you play in teams) has to get the answer to a question correctly in order to try to earn points for their team.

6- If you have a smaller class or even if you have chairs that don’t have attached desks, you can play musical chairs. You can place the chairs into several groups and allow them to play that way. Whomever ends sitting in the chair has to answer a question correctly or be eliminated.

7- JENGA is always a fun option too! You can get any Jenga set. There are small ones at most dollar stores and generic sets online. My favorite way to play this is with a life-sized Jenga that you can easily make by cutting 2×4 boards or buying the version you can play in your yard. For this one, each must be numbered. If the student places it on top without it falling, they have the chance to answer the question that corresponds to the numbers of questions you have prepared. They get points if they do both things. There are a number of variations for this game. First, you could have them play one class game in teams. Second, you could have two sets and have them play in groups with each set. Finally, you could have the small sets and allow partners or groups of 3 to play. Students are ALWAYS engaged in this one.

I hope some of these ideas help you find some way to engage students. Please comment with a game you use in your classroom. Maybe this way, we can all find something new to use this year!

Happy teaching!


Author: srakspanish

I have spent 25 years in education. I have taught Spanish, ELA, Social Studies, Science and ESOL in all levels of public school, and even several years at a local community college. I am the Curriculum Director and Lead Instructional Coach for a language learning organization.

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