quiet games?
11192011, 08:21 AM


I work at a high performing school. We have a lot of advanced kiddos, but of course we also have those very low and average kids, too.
What I've done is create a "I'm done, now what?" anchor chart. It lists specifically subject by subject what kids can do during each section of the day. Word study, math, science, and social studies. (Reading and writing are a workshop approach, so there's really no "finishing" there which is what's so beautiful about the workshop)
My kids always know exactly what to do when they are finished. We have two guiding rules that we used to create our anchor chart: 1) during each given subject, we will ONLY work on that subject. So during math, we can only be doing math. I don't think it's advantageous for students who finish their math in 15 minutes to then pull a book out. 15 minutes of math is not enough, even for an advanced math student. and 2) Is this activity making me smarter? We talked about how the math games are leveled and that they need to be choosing games that they can do, but that are not too easy. Just like they learn how to choose "just right" books, they also need to work at their "just right level" in other areas. If they have done that activity a hundred times and could do it with their eyes closed, it's no longer making them smarter and they need to do something else. When I notice a student working on an "easy" game or activity when I know they could do more, I say pointedly, "Is what you're doing making you smarter?" to which they can either tell me yes and give me a reason (maybe they come up with a new variation or had some struggle I didn't know about) or more often they smile and say, "I guess not" and they put the activity away and make another choice.
We talk a lot about the purpose of school and that every thing we do during work time should be making us smarter. I do have some math games (mostly using playing cards) that the kids can do. They love them. They are independent, and they are quiet. If they do not play the games quietly or correctly, then they lose the privilege. I rarely have that happen.
They've gotten very good at applying those two guidelines and they will often approach me and say, "Can I practice multiplication facts on my whiteboard? It's not on the chart, but it is math, and it would be making me smarter." My answer is, "Sure, let's add it to the chart."
They also can use the computers to research famous mathematicians, etc. We started out with about five activities for each subject but, with their help, we've built up quite a list of things to do.
Students should never be bored at school.
