Low Tech, High Engagement Review

Students often enjoy reviewing games.  With cell phones, SmartBoards and clickers, there are a lot of new ways to add instantly visible reveiew results.  But not all classrooms have these luxuries– it’s a luxury in my room to have chalk for the chalk board.  Luckily, there are still some low-tech options available to keep engagement high during review.

WhiteboardsOne of the best investments I made for my classroom is a set of 8×10 white boards.  I purchased mine from a local Michigan company because The Markerboard People specialized in student boards (And I like to support local, small companies.)  They also have math, music, and specialized boards along with the plain classroom boards.  You can also turn any laminated paper or page protector into a dry erase surface– knowing my students, I opted for these purchased boards.  They’re one piece– nothing to pick at and nothing to break off if dropped.  (I did still put my name on the backs… and a few students were tempted by the opportunity to alter the surname Dickson, as only high school students will.)  Plus, I loved the little durable felt erasers.  To stretch my budget just a bit more, I bought so-called “Scratch and dents” which had no flaws I could detect.

Student answers

Showing their answers (using my first set of cheap, clearance boards from the store. Those boards fell apart in a few weeks, but my good boards are on 8+ years!)

So, marker boards in hand, I set out to create a review game.  Since the whiteboards are blank, I could conceivably have any type of answer written on the board.  Short answer, order of events (such as history), conclusions, or even grammar review.  Students could write however little or much was needed.  These could be used in class discussions to engage students uncomfortable with speaking before the class or practice work that doesn’t need to be submitted.  Lots of options for dry erase in the classroom, not limited to review games.

The next problem I had to tackle was the issue of speed.  Not all students think fast under pressure or in competition.  I wanted to give all students who would get the correct answers a chance to think and to get credit/ points for their efforts.  In my whiteboard review games students (or, more frequently, small groups) were not racing to get the answer first, but working to get the right answer.  When all answers were ready, students held their boards up for review and scoring.  There was still some competition to drive students to get the right answer, even if it took longer– hearing groups debate their readings and studies was always great, from a teacher-point of view.

Scoring the groups

They wanted to take a picture of me, since I had taken pictures of them. Only fair, I suppose.

At the end, the winning group or groups could choose between candy or extra credit points.  But most importantly, they could use that review on their short quizzes.  Students who paid attention to the review game, including when I reviewed answers, could score very well on their quizzes– along with greater retention overall.

Engagement doesn’t need to be digital or high-tech.  It just needs to have students actively participating.  And that is worth the investment.

CDickson Profile PicClair Dickson, high school English teacher, likes free eTexts and Project Based Learning to stretch her meager budget. Visit her store High School English on a Shoestring Budget to stretch your budget.
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