Work as Play! Kids Just Want to Have Fun!

My team teacher and I were standing in the hallway this morning when she walked over and whispered, “If I were a kid with all this testing, testing, testing, I wouldn’t want to come to school either.” Gasp! No, actually, I know exactly what she means, school has become the most boring place  in the universe for these poor kids.

A large percentage of our students are bored with school.   Standardized testing is a huge culprit, along with its accomplice, data.  When this is the focus of your classroom, hmmm… how can I say this politely? Your classroom is a huge yawn! And you can’t fully blame the teachers, by any means, their jobs are on the line, if they don’t tow the line. What are we to do?!

I just finished teaching a unit on Addition and Subtraction with large numbers, and I did not want to provide the students with a handout with 25-30 problems on it. Instead, I said to them, “I am giving you $5,000, and you can buy whatever you want!”

First reaction, “Are you really giving us $5,000?” :) Um, no.

“I am going to let you shop on the Internet with $5,000. Use the exact amount, or as much of it as you can.”

We grabbed our pencils and notebooks and headed to the computer lab.  They were so excited, they didn’t even realize I was  actually checking out how much they had learned during the unit.  We got to the computer lab and I let them loose! They collaborated w/o being told and it was amazing to watch and listen to them use their knowledge.   The great part is (besides being tons of fun), was that it applied to many other standards that connect to real life.

“What sites can we go on?” (Appropriate sites)

“Should I buy the one with the sale?” (Making financial decisions)

“Mrs.M, I went over!” (Sticking to a budget)

AND, all the adding and subtracting you could ever need! I also let them use calculators to check their work.  Of course, you don’t need a computer, newspaper advertisements would work just as well. The other 5th grade teachers loved my idea, (it’s not original), and they are going to use it tomorrow. Fun is infectious!:)

All this is to say, school should be a place students want to come .  No,  school doesn’t have to be  fun all the time, but can’t it be fun sometimes?

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9 responses to this post.

  1. I completely agree with you. I am just starting out in the teaching profession and it’s a scary time to start. It’s all about test scores – not exactly what I signed up for. It’s a bit intimidating to be honest. I just have to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

    Reply

    • I think you are going to be alright. Although I have to be honest, standardized testing is the trend right now, but you will eventually learn how to teach the way you choose and get them to pass those tests.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Wendy Bailey on December 13, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Tell me about it…. last week our 4th graders had two days of the Writing benchmark written by our district to “resemble the state test” (don’t get me started on the quality of the test, I’m pretty sure my 4th graders could have written a better one with their eyes closed), This week, the week before the Christmas holidays, we are to give a Reading Curriculum Assessment, a Math Curriculum Assessment, AND a Science Curriculum Assessment! It saddens me that our kids are tested until they are blue in the face, leaving little to no time for holiday arts and crafts, story time, and the such. All I can say is, if it wasn’t for my love of kids… I’d rethink my profession. There isn’t any room for the progressivist teacher anymore. :(

    Reply

    • Aaaargh! I hate when they test them before the test to prepare them for the test! They tried to get me to do that right before Christmas, I refused to do that to my kids.

      Reply

  3. I totally agree here! We have to teach kids to ENJOY learning so they will pursue more learning on their own, instead of just learning and barfing out exactly what the tests require them to learn. Kids are naturally so thirsty for learning if you just hand it to them in the right way! Make it a challenge, instead of a command, you know?

    Reply

  4. Posted by Oliver on December 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    School can be fun. I don’t think data is to blame because data guides instruction and it has many forms such as the shopping project. Teachers and students must know what they know and what they don’t know.

    Reply

    • You know Oliver, I really don’t “blame” data. Actually,I have learned how to use it in a way that is very beneficial to my students.What I don’t like is when we have to accumulate data to prove to someone that we are using data. It is not fair to our students because they are tested excessively.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Kdog on January 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    I only have so much time…and well I guess if I have to spend it all gathering and recording data so that someone feels good then the time I might of spent coming up with cool exciting lessons and then preparing for them is gone……In my district I even have to track what I do, record under a specific heading and then turn it in at the end of the year……yea, you got it, I have to do extra work so that I can had in a evaluation, best part is…..if the eval is good or bad or somewhere in between there is absolutely no money involved. PS, no raise in 5 years either. I would love to have more fun but there is a lot more than “data to blame.

    Reply

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