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March 23, 2015 Motivating Students With a Game Show Gadget By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    In my Minute to Win It blog post, I documented my love of a great game show. Anytime that I can turn a “regular” lesson into a lesson that has a game show feel, I am all in! The easiest way I have found to make learning fun is by using buzzers. Now there are great buzzers out there that are electronic and have flashing lights or colors, but usually I just need something simple.

    When I’m teaching, and the students’ faces and body language are showing me that I have droned on a bit too long, I quickly divide them up into groups. Once they are settled, I let each group pick a buzzer. We then do a quick review where I ask questions, the groups confer, hit the buzzer when they think they have the correct answer, and give their response (once I call on them).

    Jersey with BuzzerUsing buzzers in your small group guided reading and guided math lessons is also a fantastic way to keep things engaging. Show a sight word, and students hit their buzzer when they know it. Say a word, and students hit their buzzer when they come up with a rhyming word. Guided reading turns into Family Feud and everyone wins! Give an addition problem, and students hit their buzzer when they have the answer. Show a number, and students hit their buzzer when they have counted out the matching amount of manipulatives. Guided math turns into Jeopardy!, and you are Alex Trebek!

    If you have ever been around a 4-, 5-, or 6-year-old, you know that having favorites is a big deal to them. Sharing your favorite animal, color, song, name, restaurant, or basically anything is a chance to bond with this age group. Well, I definitely have a favorite buzzer: the Easy Button from Staples. It is the best money that you can spend on a buzzer for your classroom for several reasons:

    • It builds confidence. We all have those students who read a word and then look at the teacher immediately because they are unsure of their abilities. I simply say, “Man! You made that word look easy. Hit that Easy Button!” You can see their confidence soar when they hear those words coming from the button, “That was easy!”

    • It’s sturdy. Trust me on this one. My kids hit this button as though they are trying to kill it. But every time it simply responds, “That was easy!” and waits for the next eager student to slap it like they are on Press Your Luck.

    • It’s motivating. When you bring the Easy Button out, students begin to really do their best, just for the chance to hit that button and hear that reassuring voice say, “That was easy!” When students have to present something to the class, I take it out. Once the child is finished presenting, they get to push the button. Public speaking can be really hard for some students, but internalizing the words, “That was easy!” on the way back to their seat brings a smile every time.

    • It’s red. I’m not kidding about this. It draws every student's attention. When I let students pick their buzzers, I take out the other buzzers first. The last person to pick gets the Easy Button, and they are the envy of the room. No one pouts during the game because they didn’t get their way. You either picked your button or you got the Easy Button. It’s a win-win.

    Do you have an interesting way to use buzzers in your classroom? If so, please share it in the comments below.

    Find me, dad2ella, on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next week.

    In my Minute to Win It blog post, I documented my love of a great game show. Anytime that I can turn a “regular” lesson into a lesson that has a game show feel, I am all in! The easiest way I have found to make learning fun is by using buzzers. Now there are great buzzers out there that are electronic and have flashing lights or colors, but usually I just need something simple.

    When I’m teaching, and the students’ faces and body language are showing me that I have droned on a bit too long, I quickly divide them up into groups. Once they are settled, I let each group pick a buzzer. We then do a quick review where I ask questions, the groups confer, hit the buzzer when they think they have the correct answer, and give their response (once I call on them).

    Jersey with BuzzerUsing buzzers in your small group guided reading and guided math lessons is also a fantastic way to keep things engaging. Show a sight word, and students hit their buzzer when they know it. Say a word, and students hit their buzzer when they come up with a rhyming word. Guided reading turns into Family Feud and everyone wins! Give an addition problem, and students hit their buzzer when they have the answer. Show a number, and students hit their buzzer when they have counted out the matching amount of manipulatives. Guided math turns into Jeopardy!, and you are Alex Trebek!

    If you have ever been around a 4-, 5-, or 6-year-old, you know that having favorites is a big deal to them. Sharing your favorite animal, color, song, name, restaurant, or basically anything is a chance to bond with this age group. Well, I definitely have a favorite buzzer: the Easy Button from Staples. It is the best money that you can spend on a buzzer for your classroom for several reasons:

    • It builds confidence. We all have those students who read a word and then look at the teacher immediately because they are unsure of their abilities. I simply say, “Man! You made that word look easy. Hit that Easy Button!” You can see their confidence soar when they hear those words coming from the button, “That was easy!”

    • It’s sturdy. Trust me on this one. My kids hit this button as though they are trying to kill it. But every time it simply responds, “That was easy!” and waits for the next eager student to slap it like they are on Press Your Luck.

    • It’s motivating. When you bring the Easy Button out, students begin to really do their best, just for the chance to hit that button and hear that reassuring voice say, “That was easy!” When students have to present something to the class, I take it out. Once the child is finished presenting, they get to push the button. Public speaking can be really hard for some students, but internalizing the words, “That was easy!” on the way back to their seat brings a smile every time.

    • It’s red. I’m not kidding about this. It draws every student's attention. When I let students pick their buzzers, I take out the other buzzers first. The last person to pick gets the Easy Button, and they are the envy of the room. No one pouts during the game because they didn’t get their way. You either picked your button or you got the Easy Button. It’s a win-win.

    Do you have an interesting way to use buzzers in your classroom? If so, please share it in the comments below.

    Find me, dad2ella, on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next week.

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