In my quest to wisely use those last few minutes of class time and bring joy to my little Room H-9 learning community, I’m adding a new element to my classroom routine this year – Quarter Trios.
Here’s the plan: At the end of the second week of school, I’m going to announce that students will work in assigned teams of three, or “Trios,” over the quarter marking period to occasionally complete a variety of fun, rigorous, and random tasks. At the end of the first quarter (roughly early November), members of the Trio team with the most points will have their lowest assignment score (up to 20 pts.) dropped from the grade book. For the second quarter, I’ll scramble the teams and a new round of merriment will begin. And we’ll repeat the process for the third and fourth quarters.
Occasional incentive “bonus” prizes will also be offered in the midst of each quarter’s competition to keep energy high through the mid-quarter doldrums. In addition to earning points that go into the Trio’s quarter-long tally, some challenges will include bonus prizes, such as:
• Homework passes
• Positive phone calls home to parents/guardians
• Donuts for the Trio team members to enjoy during S.S.R. on Friday
• Mystery Box prizes (Candy? Dollar store treasures? Who knows?)
• Win the right to choose your next quarter’s team members
If this plan is the hit that I hope it becomes, I may take a cue from reality T.V. programming and allow teams to mess with each other in the third and fourth quarters. For example, additional bonus prizes later in the year may include:
• Win the right to change another team’s name
• Win the right to remove three points from the tally board. (Might take three from one team or one from three different teams – their choice.)
• Win the right to scramble the members of three other teams.
Standing offers for Trio team points will include:
1. I witness a random act of kindness/awesomeness. I plan to make a big deal about such moments early in the year as I award points to deserving students with the hope that this will encourage positive classroom behavior.
2. Snap a real-life grammar crime and email me the shot along with an explanation of how to fix the error. The photo needs to include at least one team member’s face. Only errors on professionally printed signage will be awarded points. Sorry, no handwritten grammar crimes accepted.
3. Donate a yearbook or dance photo (an actual photo, not digital) of you from this year to add to our classroom display wall.
Challenges: (I’ll toss one or two of these at them each week)
1. On announcement day, does anyone have a purple pen? Earn a point! (Purple = Our school’s color)
2. On announcement day, can anyone name every person in the room? Earn a point!
3. Brain Teasers (I’m going to fit these in at the end of class on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays, depending on the weekly lesson plans.)
4. Content-based review games (Jeopardy, Flyswatter, Quote Races, etc.)
5. “Just Give the Word” game
6. Word ADDiction game
7. New film connected to our literature studies being released? Submit a movie ticket stub and one-page review to earn a point.
8. Local book signing by an important author? (We live in the S.F. Bay Area, so this happens a lot – lucky, I know.) Submit a photo with the author or bring a signed copy of the book for me to see.
9. Any team with at least three (five? ten?) donations during the school’s November canned food drive earns a point.
10. All three team members wear purple on our first school spirit day? Earn a point!
11. All three team members dress in Hawaiian garb on Aloha Day? Earn a point!
12. All three team members dress in a costume on Halloween? Earn a point!
13. Selfie including all three team members and our principal (or Mrs. C., our campus supervisor) (or Mr. B., our hallway’s custodian)
14. Selfie including all three team members taken at the Homecoming Dance.
15. Perform in the freshman class Homecoming Skit? One point per Trio member, so up to three possible points here, folks.
16. I’ve hidden a talisman in the library. Follow the clues I post on the class website. The first team to bring me the object tomorrow before 10:15 a.m. (the end of our brunch break) wins a point. All three team members must be present when submitting the hidden item.
17. I’ve posted a passage from a book on my website with one word or phrase missing. Figure out the author, the book, and the missing word/phrase. Submit that information to me via the Google Form link on our class website by the deadline.
18. I’ve written two stanzas of a poem. Finish the poem and submit your stanza/stanzas via the Google Form on our class website by the deadline.
19. I’ve posted a random trivia question about an author on the class website. Submit answer via Google Form by the deadline.
20. I’ve posted a random question from a TED Talk I want students to watch. Submit answer via Google Form by the deadline.
21. Post a line from Shakespeare on your social media account and send me the link via Google Form.
22. Spot one of our Words on Wednesday vocab. words in a book, highlight or mark it with a sticky note, and post a photo of that passage on your social media account. Send me the link via Google Form.
23. Create a piece of Blackout Poetry based on our current novel. Physically submit your poetry/art piece to me in class by the deadline date.
24. In the last three minutes of class, build a tower using only your Trio members’ six shoes. Tallest, free-standing structure when the timer goes off wins the point!
25. Post “Randazzo is the best teacher ever!” on your social media account and send me the link via Google Form.
The Trio team’s first mission?
Decide your Trio team’s name. Fill out a simple Google Form (link will be posted on the class website) announcing your new team’s name, which is what I’ll use when updating the weekly standings. Also, exchange phone numbers/email and set up a team Instagram or Photobucket account. For the next quarter (nine weeks), you’re a team!
Details to help manage this chaos:
• By requiring students to create a team Instagram or Photobucket account, they’ll be able to post the photo evidence from different challenges and then just send me the URL instead of attaching the full photo to an email. To make things much easier on my end (just say no to email clog, people), students will fill out a simple Google Form and one of the questions will include a space for them to post the url/link of the photo they posted. All of this info will dump into an easy-to-navigate spreadsheet, including clickable links to each of their photos. Huzzah! Those Google Form addresses will be posted when needed on my class calendar, but teachers without websites who want to use this Game Plan could just write their Google Form url on their whiteboards and have students submit their entries to that address.
• To keep things efficient, Trio members will be placed somewhat near each other on the seating chart. No more, “When are we getting new seats?” The answer will always be at the end of the quarter, when we change seats and Trio teams.
• I’ll update the weekly tally every Friday before I leave campus. Any discrepancies (I do make mistakes, y’all) need to be reported to me within one week.
So that’s my plan for new school year. Whaddya think? This shouldn’t be too hard to manage, right? Any ideas to add to my list of challenges? I need to have 36 weeks (or so) of challenges at the ready and I’m only at 25 right now. Happily, two other teachers in my department have decided to take a similar “gamification” approach to their classes, so we can compare notes and may even have some down-the-hall competitions. Oh, it’s gonna get noisy…
Teach on, everyone!