Thursday, March 9, 2017

Front-Loading your Plinko

So what does Plinko have to do with Blended Learning?
Have you ever watched The Price is Right or any other game or talk show? All game shows and talk shows have recurring games that are periodically revisited. These are designed to create familiarity between the audience and the show, and is an efficient system for running things. When Drew Carey announces that the next game is Plinko, are you able to quickly envision what that looks like? When Jimmy Fallon announces that he will be writing Thank You Notes, do you know what to expect?
Creating objects in a blended course is a lot like that. Identify some rich collaborative activities that can be applied to many circumstances. Over the first month of school, Invest time to teach kids the norms of your games so it won't be necessary to explain them each time. After kids have learned them, they can engage independently without much teacher prompting. If your independent work time includes several options for kids around some familiar activities, they can have autonomy to direct their own learning path in selected rich activities.
Remember that blended means a mixture of online and offline. Be careful not to fall into the trap of too much screen time. Many of these Plinkos should be collaborative and engaging activities with multiple entry points and no ceiling. Use pop culture to help you generate some ideas.
Here are some examples:
  • 3-2-1:  Partner up and share 3 things you learned, 2 things you still have questions about, and 1 thing you are curious about. 
  • See-Think-Wonder:  Partners find a picture that releates to their learning. What do you see/observe? What do those observations make you think/believe(inferences)? What do you now wonder? 
  • Analogy: Create an analogy for a new concept that utilizes a familiar example. Example - How are the organs in the digestive system like the parts of a car?
  • Shape Spelling:  Create a picture from a vocabulary word where the picture illustrates the meaning.
  • Maker: Identify a question or problem that applies to what you're learning. Research and create a solution. Test it out - Does it solve the problem or communicate an answer to a question? Redesign if neccesary. 
  • Play by Play:  One student solves a problem or draws a picture while another records and narrates the play-by-play. 
  • Word Sneak:  Partners each generate a list of 10 vocabulary words from the unit, then sit "knee to knee." They have a casual conversation and try to sneak the words into the conversation. (See the example below)
  • Logo: Without using words, design a logo or create an illustration that conveys an idea. Share the logo/illustration with a partner and have the partner describe all the symbolism they can find. Then switch roles with your partner's drawing.
  • Comic Strip:  Fold a piece of paper in half and half again to create 6 equal squares. Use the paper to draw out a process or event. Make use of background/setting, characters, and dialog.
  • Thank You Notes:  Think Jimmy Fallon - Compose quick thank you notes that reveal truths or facts in a creative way.
  • Editorial Cartoon:  Create a single scene with a speech bubble or two that illustrate a concept or event.
  • Headline or Hashtag:  If you were to summarize this concept in a newpaper headline, what would it be? Be clear, succinct, creative, and select power words. Creating a hashtag is a similar idea, but utilizing words strung together. #sharinglearningwithpopculture
  • Slogan or Jingle:  Sell a new idea by writing a catchy slogan, or changing the words to a well-known jingle.
  • Top Ten List:  Title the top ten list to indicate the content, then list the top ten items that support that topic. 
The beauty of investing time at the beginning of the year to develop your Plinkos is that these same activity choices can be included again and again. Within different context, the norms don't change, but the thinking does.
Does your unit of study include some vocabulary? How about using Word Sneak?

Thanks to @CatlinTucker for the inspiration!