Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Slap Jack: A Small Group Alternative to Flyswatter

Almost every teacher has played a version of Flyswatter. If you haven't, it basically goes:
  1. Project information on the board/screen.
  2. Divide the class into two teams.
  3. Give representatives from each team a flyswatter.
  4. Have students hit the correct information with said flyswatters based on clues.
  5. Hilarity ensues.
I have played this game with my students off and on for sixteen years. I generally have enjoyed it, and there have been some nice improvements on the game, such as Keith Toda's move toward pictures and sentences instead of just vocabulary.

However, as my classes have grown in size and, to be honest, changed in demographic from students who are super engaged in school to students who feel much less represented and are therefore largely disaffected with academia, I find that flyswatter leads to poor classroom management that, at best, means a bunch of students are sitting around not paying attention for large sections of class time and, at worst, means juggling student behavior while still trying to keep a semblance of a "fun review."

So, simply, I stopped using it. But I missed it.

I also wanted to do something that would allow students to self-select a difficulty level and provide a means of differentiation as my classes and those of my colleagues have grown more inclusive of students with learning differences.

Here's my solution: Slap Jack!

I took the images I would have used in a round of Flyswatter and made them into images I could cut out, then created a ppt with sentences to go with the images, and voila! A small-group version where all students are engaged.

Slap Jack
  1. Gather images and sentences you would like to use. I used images and sentences from some short vocabulary stories we had recently read in preparation for a myth we were about to read.
  2. Divide the images into 4-5 groups. For this one, I made four groups. Mark the backs of the images with the number of their group so you can keep track. For example, if there are six images that will be called out first, they are in group 1 and need to have "1" written on the back of their pictures.
  3. Make a powerpoint or Google slides that coordinates with the group numbers (without putting group numbers on it). So the first six sentences are all for group 1 images (I put the answers on the ppt as well), and the second six (or whatever number you set) are for group 2 images, etc.
  4. Cut the images out and put them in envelopes marked with the group numbers. This is the most tedious part of preparation. I made ten sets of images so I could have nine groups and an emergency set.
  1. Put the ppt on the board and give students a chance to choose how hard to make their game. 1 envelope = easiest setting, 2 envelopes = medium, all envelopes = hardest. Make sure they know to keep the envelopes in order and that they need to open them and use them in order.
  2. Have students take their chosen number of envelopes and put out the images face up between them all.
  3. When the sentence goes on the board, say it out loud. The first student in each group to slap the right image gets to hold on to that image.
  4. Whenever you finish a group, give time for setup for any groups who are doing one envelope at a time.
  5. When you finish all the images, students count their images to find out who got the most points in each group. You can give prizes if you want to.
  1. Cleanup is pretty easy--have students look at the numbers on the backs of the pictures and put them in the correct envelopes!
I wish I had taken some pictures but I was just caught up in the moment so I didn't. Sorry. What I can offer is the Google slides and document I made for the game we played earlier this year.

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