Saturday, April 12, 2014

Let the Academic Games Begin!

Our state testing is coming up next week and for the past couple weeks my students have been competing in the academic games!  Every year as we get closer to FCAT, the practice tests and drilling become so agonizing to the students that you can see their motivation dwindling and the slow downward slide begin, when what I really need is for them to be pumped for the next three weeks of testing!  So this year I had an idea...  A brilliant one, if I do say so myself ;o)  The Academic Games.

I introduced the academic games about a month ago to my class.  I told them that they would be competing in four categories: reading, math, science, and language arts.  The Magic Hat randomly picked our five groups and I explained the importance of working together.  You see, my class this year is very competitive as a whole and are not into the whole working as partners thing.  They would prefer to do it themselves, and this OCD-perfectionist gets that.  But some of my friends need help and just get it better when it comes from their peers (let's be honest, they need to know how to work with others to make it in this world, especially when they don't want to).  I explained that occasionally we would take scores from group work, partner work, and individual work.  So if one of your teammates if having trouble with author's purpose while you are in your group, you need to help them understand so when they are being scored as individuals they won't end up getting a low score for your team.  You haven't seen team work until you've seen my class after that light-bulb moment!

We created this bulletin board from chalkboard fabric to update our scores.  Yes... you read that right.  CHALK. BOARD. FABRIC.  My new best friend!  I will be posting all about it this week, so be on the lookout!  Here is a closer look at the board so you can see the writing.

We use a variety of materials for the academic games!  One that my kids love is the interactive game shows from Lakeshore Learning.  We have one for science, vocabulary, math, reading comprehension, and nonfiction.

We also use past FCAT passages, homework, ReadWorks passages, task cards and more.  On Monday they will have an "Egg-tastic Test-Prep" hunt for a last minute review of all the concepts!  I will do just about anything to get them motivated and keep them that way for this test that lasts three weeks this year?!

As in any type of competition there are awards to be won based on where you finished in your event.  I cut out these circles from sparkly scrapbook paper I found at Michael's and attached the awards list that they could choose from.  Nothing was over the top or something I would drop a lot of money on and the kids were okay with that.  They loved the list of prizes and are already gearing up for what they want to choose!  It's also nice because each person can pick what they want, it doesn't have to be a whole team agreement.

To say this was a motivational success is putting it lightly.  Not only are my kids still motivated after a month to take the FCAT, their scores lately are phenomenal!  I will without a doubt be doing this every year from here on out and HIGHLY recommend it or something like it for your class if you have state testing coming up.  That is why I am linking this up with one of my BBB's Joanne from Head Over Heels For Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturday!

How do you motivate your students for the big test???

Happy weekend y'all!


  1. Oh, I LOVE this idea!!! So wish I had time to implement it, but FCAT starts Monday. I am so pinning this to use next year :o) Although this could be used after testing to keep their motivation going until the end of the year.

  2. Um, chalk board fabric? I'm intrigued. Also, were did you get the flag letters?

  3. This is so awesome! My class is super competitive too. Definitely pinning too!
    It was interesting to hear that your kids like to work alone because mine are the total opposite. They don't like to do individual work AT ALL. I fear they will have a hard time in middle school sometimes since we do so much group work. Only time will tell. Best of luck to you guys on Monday. The butterflies are starting to set in. Yikes!!!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  4. I can't wait to hear more about this Chalk Board Fabric! I love your Academic Games as well! Great idea! I am also a Florida Blogger and understand how demotivating the month before FCAT is for our students. Making review and practice a fun game is an excellent idea!


  5. LOVE THIS IDEA! Super motivating and creative! Students don't mind reviewing and prepping for a test if it's fun and engaging! I can't wait to hear more about your chalk board fabric!!! Thanks for sharing and linking up BBB! (Can't wait to "meet" you!) :)
    Head Over Heels For Teaching