January 2016 - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide

Howdy, Friends!

A special Texas welcome to all of those joining me from the Kinder Tribe! I'm Laura from Kindergarten Down River. In this new year, many teachers are looking for exciting ways to keep students engaged in learning as the next semester begins...and some teachers have set goals to move more...also known as, the E-Word: Exercise. This strategy, the Magnet Game, as I have dubbed it, will achieve both goals: engagement for students and movement for teachers and students alike...great for the heart and the brain!

Before you use this simple eight-step strategy, you must have a question you want the students to ponder. In a bit, they will move around the room as they think about their response and then share with a partner in a fun, exciting way!

You can discuss "good movement spots" such as, the rug or walking spaces behind desks and "bad movement spots" such as behind the teacher's desk, the classroom library, computer center, or any other unsafe spots for movement.

When I first teach the movements that corresponds with this cooperative strategy, I use a basic question: "What did you do during Winter Break?" Or, "what was your favorite Christmas gift?" Then, as I use this strategy throughout the year, I use academic questions, "How did Lizard feel at the end of the story?" Or, "explain how you would change the investigation?"

Teacher can turn on music to cue the movement or tell students "Think and Walk." Students should begin moving around the room staying in their own spots as they meander around the room. It is important that when teaching them what to do, you emphasize some basic rules which will save you some stress when implementing this strategy: Stay in your own space, stay quiet, and keep thinking about your answer while you move.

My favorite part: If you...touch somebody, follow your best friends around the room, or talk, the consequence is having to sit out of the game. Muah, muah, muah. No kid wants this to happen!
Teacher Tip: I use a track I have downloaded on my phone. It makes it fast and easy for me to cue the music and the students know that it is special when we have some music.

This allows students the opportunity to look around the classroom without the pressure of partnering up right away.

 Students face back-to-back while teacher ensures all students have a partner. It also discourages talking!

Finding their closest partner encourages students to team up with students whom they may not normally chose to talk to which builds relationships in the classroom and promotes risk-taking.

This is a great time for formative assessment. Select students whom you are working closely with and monitor their responses. You may select students with special needs or English language learners. You can assist them in producing responses by giving the students a sentence stem. For example, "Lizard felt __ at the end of the story because ____." My students use their "question hands to repeat the question to their partners; this is just another way for them to engage in practicing the language...learning to speak in complete sentences and use inflection in their voices.

Probably one of the greatest pieces to this game is having the students turn back-to-back. It is great for the teacher to know when the majority of students have finished their conversations, but it also controls the students' urge to talk to one another during this time! Genius, I know!

You can use this step if you want students to practice multiple times with other partners. You could also change the question and start a second round of the game. If you are short on time, you can students return to the rug or their desks and continue learning.

I hope this cooperative learning strategy becomes a part of your teaching toolbox. I'd love to see it in action in your classroom. Take a picture and tag me @kinderdownriver.

Happy Teachin' Trails from Texas!