Interactive Classroom Games for Intensive Reading Success
Historically, teachers have struggled with maintaining classroom momentum while balancing rigorous curriculum instruction. The lowest quartile (bottom 25 percent) intensive reading students struggle with understanding complex coursework, may be considerably bored and listless, and may require stimulating kinesthetic activities to remain focused. Intensive reading teachers struggle with providing opportunities to integrate kinesthetic activities into the classroom environment while continuing a rigorous momentum driven by high-stakes reading assessments.
In this article, we will explore how interactive games can help your students succeed in intensive reading, and dive into some of our favorite classroom games and activities to increase engagement and help prepare your students for reading assessments.
Educational Game Day in the Intensive Reading Classroom
Once a month, set aside a day for your students to break from the everyday routine and introduce various indoor and outdoor kinesthetic games that encourage collaboration and friendly competition. Hosting an “Educational Game Day” at your school can be a great way to decrease student trepidation specific to standardized reading assessments, increase assessment reading self-confidence, increase celebrations for assessment reading achievements, and diminish the fear associated with test taking. Let’s explore how the models could look in your classroom.
The entire classroom is organized into stations. The desk-learning stations are comprised of two or four desks joined together with an activity and instructions. Students self-select one or more of the following activities:
- Color for stress relief
- Complete a jigsaw puzzle
- Complete a 3D puzzle
- Solve a Rubik’s Cube
- Complete -a poster-sized, academic vocabulary crossword puzzle
- Complete -a poster-sized, assessment vocabulary word search
- Compete in a tabletop Ping-Pong or foosball game
- Compete in plastic pin bowling
- Compete in a cornhole beanbag toss
- Play games with a Hula Hoop
- Play indoor arcade basketball
- Play “teacher bop” (inflatable boxing)
Educational Game Day can be integrated into classroom instruction to assist with decreasing negative behaviors and increasing academic achievement goals.
In the simplistic model, a percentage goal for a reading assessment, such as 75 percent, is set, and everyone in the class must achieve 75 percent on the assessment, and/or the class average must be 75 percent.
If this goal is achieved, the students select one student to compete against me in tabletop Ping-Pong, wallball, or tips. If the student wins (best out of five points), then the class earns a point. The points accumulate to earn an outside kickball game. The five-point Ping-Pong game uses at most six minutes of class time.
Introduce a “Technology Day” and integrate Study Island for a quick 15-minute competition. Study Island’s race mode is an interactive racing game that has students answer questions quickly. Students compete for questions answered at the highest level of accuracy. The winner can be awarded a five-point coupon to be used for an assessment grade.
Collaborative Co-Teacher Model
Another Educational Game Day model involves competing against a co-teacher’s class. Combine the students into one classroom, and use Kahoot! to design academic and assessment vocabulary questions Certificates can be awarded to individualized winners. You can also consider other incentives such as extra credit points, or special classroom privileges like choosing their seats for the day or being the first to leave for lunch. Acitvities like this generate a spirited atmosphere, with friendly competition continuing even after the challenge ends.
Educational Game Day Must-Haves
A retractable net Ping-Pong paddle set is a must! The setup is very straightforward, making it easy to transform any table into a Ping-Pong arena.
2. Chair Ping Pong
The teacher and student sit in chairs facing each other about five feet apart. Using the Ping-Pong paddles, tap the ball back and forth. Points are earned when someone fails to return the ball back and forth. Students tend to want to hit the ball hard, and they have to learn patience and learn to return service gently.
You might be surprised at the number of students who likely have no idea how to play kickball. Try allowing students to organize themselves with one rule: the kicking lineup must be: boy, girl, boy, girl. Engaging in friendly competition against other classes, especially when teachers join in, can also add a fun twist to the game.
To play wallball, (like handball but with a large ball) you’ll need a teacher and student pair and a large-size ball. It’s a good idea to keep one or two of these plastic balls in the classroom (the one used for kickball above works too). To prevent students from touching or playing with the balls during classroom instruction, set guidelines such as: no touching the ball during class or else we do not get to play, and the balls will be put away in a storage closet.
In this station, students have a 10-second countdown to gently bop you with the oversized inflatable boxing gloves. The laughter from a student being able to bop the teacher is a sound you will never forget. Have no fear! It’s harmless and pain-free.Give students a 10-second countdown. Have other students count down. Establish limits like: no hitting in the face or in the head region.
This mini basketball hoop is perfect for game day in the classroom. Divide your students into teams of 3 or 4 and have them compete to score the most baskets within a set time. Winners get special classroom privileges for the day or extra credit points awarded to them.
Tabletop corn hole or tabletop foosball are some other great options for team games your students will love. Consider organizing a mini-tournament with rotating teams to keep the energy high and the fun rolling throughout your classroom game day.
Introducing Educational Game Days can be a proven activity that both motivates students and provides them with the opportunity to participate in competitive kinesthetic activities that help build intensive reading confidence and alleviate anxiety associated with reading assessments.
Looking for more ways to increase student engagement in your classroom? Learn more about how to keep your students motivated and create a positive learning environment.