Since I only have nine students, I feel like I have more freedom to try fun activities with the class. They all get along really well, so even though they are competitive, they don't argue when we play games. That makes my life so much easier, and it certainly makes class much more enjoyable.
One of the games we played this week was snakes and ladders. You know---it's a ripoff of Chutes and Ladders. Or maybe it's the other way around, and I just wasn't aware. Anyway, I put a giant game board on the interactive board and split the class into 3 teams. In order to roll the dice, the students had to pick a card that had a punctuation mark on it. Depending on the punctuation mark they had, they would have to come up with a proper sentence to match and also tell what kind of sentence it was. If they succeeded, they would roll the (electronic--push a button on the board) dice to move their game piece. The kids had a ton of fun, both moving the pieces and making up ridiculous sentences. And maybe---just maybe---they learned something, too!
We're going to begin writing a descriptive paragraph, but at a fourth grade level, the average kid doesn't have a brain full of frolicking adjectives. It's sad (and frustrating!), but true! I did my best to come up with creative ways to make them enjoy being descriptive.
1. We watched a clip of Willy Wonka, where he sings Pure Imagination as the children roam around the candy-made factory, tasting all the delicious trees and flowers and grass. You get the picture. As they watched, I asked them to write down things they would see, smell, taste, hear, and feel while they were in the factory.
Although they enjoyed watching the clip, the attempt at helping them be descriptive was a failure. I got answers like, "The factory was cool. There was lots of candy." AAAH!
2. The next day, I decided to play Taboo with them. This would force them to describe things without saying the words they would normally want to use. They did not even realize they were being descriptive. Yay! Somewhat successful! After we finished the game, I gave each of them an individual card from the game. They then had to write a paragraph describing the word the best they could, but still not using any of the taboo words on the list. Some of them asked for more cards and made a few paragraphs.
After they finished, I read the clues, and the students got points for all the kids who were able to guess the right word.
3. Today, I was teaching sequence in reading, so I broke the kids into groups to create a 3 to 5 motion handshake. As they were practicing, I decided to involve description into this activity as well. They returned to their seats, and I made them write out (in sequence) a description of how the handshake was to proceed. I read the descriptions to other groups, who tried to perform what I was reading. This helped the students see the need to be specific and detailed when writing---otherwise, the audience might not see the same thing you are trying to convey.
All in all, the kids had a fun week, and so did I. Now, I have to get back to finishing my first paper for my master's class. Lord, help me!