Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Gosh Yarn It! Wool You Play?

So this is Teacher Appreciation Week! I want you to know how much I appreciate you. I know how ridiculously hard you work. Please know how amazing and powerful I think you are!

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, today’s WW email

One of the best ways to review for exams is to use fun & engagement with higher order thinking. The fun and engagement make the content memorable and make the info “stick” in the kids’ brains and the higher order thinking helps the kids apply their content and make connections.

One of my favorite review games is the “Yarn Game”.  (All props to my colleague JK, the inventor of this review game!)

You may have come across this game as a kid as part of an ice-breaker game or maybe a team building activity.

But I LOVELOVELOVE it as a review activity.

Here’s how you do it.

  1. EITHER create notecards with vocabulary terms on them OR use your Vocab Sticky Note cards from a previous activity.
  2. Make sure each student has ONE vocab term card or sticky note.
  3. You-the-teacher should have a term, too.
  4. Depending on your students, do this either whole class or in two larger-sized groups.
  5. Bring a ball of yarn (or two) to class. Available at Walmart for $2-$3.
  6. Have students look up their term ahead of time and jot down a few key terms or connecting words on the back.
  1. Have students stand in a circle around the room so they can see each other (or two big circles)
  2. You-the-teacher should hold the very end of the yarn.
  3. Explain to the students that each person in the circle will hold on to a part of the yarn and then throw the ball of yarn to another person across the circle, effectively linking one person to another.
  4. The person who throws it has to explain how their term relates with the term of the person to whom they throw it.
  5. For example: Devonte’s term is “Impeach”, which is related to Jasmine’s “Judicial Review” because they are both ways to check the Executive Branch.
  6. Then, that person holds on to part of the yarn and throws the rest of the ball of yarn to a new person and explains how his or her term relates to the person they threw to.
  7. As the yarn is passed from person to person, a web should form within the circle.
  8. The last person should throw the yarn back to the teacher and explain how that last term relates to the first term.
  9. You may want to ask the students to explain (or defend) their connections “How do those terms each check the Executive Branch?”
  10. Formatively assess -- by asking kids afterwards to reflect on two or three connections they learned in the game that they had not previously thought of.
Benefits of Yarn Game:
  • Student collaboration and discussion.
  • Students are active and out of their seats.
  • Students have to make connections between unlike terms in the same unit.
  • Students will see how many terms in the unit connect to each other.
Watch Out For:
  • Kids dropping the yarn and letting the web fall apart.
  • The last few people often have a tougher time. You may allow the rest of the circle to help them out.
  • Differentiation. Choose more concrete terms for struggling kids and more abstract terms for more advanced learners.  
  • If terms are from a long time ago (first semester?) then provide a word bank on the board or screen, so they don’t have to squint to see that term way across the circle from them.

Let me know how it goes! As always, email me! newmantr@pcsb.org

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