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100% Student Participation!

Ever spent hours planning and preparing a unit review game only to realize during play that just a handful of students are actively participating at a time? When this happens, a good teacher realizes that he/she is unable to accurately assess the students' retention rates because some are not engaged. I have finally found the solution!


Years ago, I found a PowerPoint template for "Jeopardy." I experimented with different ways to manage this game, but I was unable to devise a plan that didn't involve individual players or teams where the more assertive students overran the shy ones. Then came the paddles - not the old-fashioned kind that were used to enforce discipline, but the newly engineered ones with dry erase material on each flat side. The set that I use even came with 4 different colors (yellow, blue, red, and green) of 5 paddles each, making the use of teams very easy to setup and score for the teacher. These paddles also have a holder for the dry erase marker, which comes with a cap that has a little eraser pad attached - so no extra eraser is necessary. These are SO easy to use!

The best part about this strategy is that ALL students in the class have to participate in the learning games. While playing "Jeopardy," for example, after calling out the question, I say aloud, "1, 2, 3, UP!" Students have to put their paddles in the air by the time I say up. I believe in the "three strikes and you're out" method, so after three wrong answers or strikes (given for players whose paddles aren't in the air by the up announcement,) the player is "out." You can decide what "out" means. In my case, students keep playing, but they are no longer eligible for winning bonus points on our next quiz or test. I do this as further incentive for students to study for assessments ahead of time instead of waiting until the night before to review.

Jeopardy2So, how does this apply to gifted education? All gifted students NEED a chance to respond to questioning, an opportunity to participate in an academic way, a chance to practice healthy competition, and a technique to make all of the above fun and exciting. This strategy has allowed for all of these things to happen in my classroom. It's amazing the response I get from students when I say, "Bring out the paddles!" I don't have anyone falling asleep or nervously predicting the question that will come on their turn. Instead, all students are listening to ALL questions, answering ALL questions, and analyzing ALL answers. For once, we have 100% student participation!


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Strategies for Gifted Learners are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.