We started off Monday morning in English II with a binder check. I’m that teacher that doesn’t trust the students enough to take their binders home. They were required to have all of their binder materials today and thus we began writing our names on the spines, checking to make sure we had all of the materials inside, and writing on the tabs. Every single face that looked back at mine was hollow and asleep. But, to their credit, only two of them were unprepared and they all did what they were asked. Props to 1st hour.
I then politely asked them if they’d like to go easy this morning. Eyes flicked open and wide, mouths smiled and heads shook. If anyone spoke, it wasn’t above a whisper. I’m considering starting that class out every morning with jazzercise. (still pending) We’ve been learning MLA format this past week so we have it down for our essays and other assignments, and instead of the traditional quiz or seat work, I’ve made it a game.
The Pitch and Review Game
I’ve stolen this game from the K20 Center in Norman (they do a lot of our PD, but ironically enough they don’t know a whole lot more than we do about Common Core, so there’s that). This “game”/quiz is an opportunity for students to show what they know, edit what they don’t know, and get feedback almost immediately. I’ve used it for other things in the classroom, but it works especially well with reviewing MLA Format.
We started by writing the correct MLA format on our papers. I asked the students to crumple up the paper and pitch it into a cardboard Avon box (thanks mom). They looked at me in horror, “crumple up the paper?! What?!” They 3 point shot them into the box. There were a few other rounds, and they were asked to initial each round so we’d know who did what.
2. Put the title “MLA Format Quiz”
3. Put the correct page number header
4. Mark all the margins and the indention
5. Write a sentence that goes from the indention to the second line
6. Write the two items we talked about for MLA format (always double space and 12pt Arial font)
7. Write the three things all essays must have in our class (introduction of 2-3 sentences, at least 3 body paragraphs, all paragraphs must have 7-15 sentences).
After we had completed all rounds, I gave each student a marker. We went through each round and put a check mark beside the items that were correct and we had to fix (with the marker) the parts that were incorrect. The great part about the initials is that the students were hollering at the students who did stuff incorrectly and telling them what to do. It was a great opportunity for students to understand the format but also to correct each other. Most of the student comments were appropriate, some were rude. But again, that gave me and opportunity to remind them of the respect conversation we had the other day.
This is one of my favorite ways to assess students and to get them involved in the task at hand. Even my students who don’t like whatever we’re learning get into this activity. It takes a lot of class time sometimes, which is why I would suggest setting a timer for those particularly unfocused classes. I use e.ggtimer.com usually. That way I can show it on the board.