Wild Card Engagement Challenge

Tired of students dragging their feet to your classroom? Tired of hearing complaints about boredom? So were we. In hopes of exploring ways to enliven the atmosphere of our school, our teacher book club decided to give Hope and Wade King’s new book, Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough, a try.

 This book was published in January  and has already made a big splash in the world of education. And I think we are all glad we took the time to read about these innovative educators. Their message is two-fold in that it asks teachers to reach into their own creativity and enthusiasm so that they may spark excitement for learning in their students. 

The book encourages teachers to think of their lessons as learning experiences that engage students (King & King xv). One of the greatest takeaways  is the purpose of the title: students cannot control the hand they are dealt, but teachers can be the “wild card” that makes the difference in their lives (King & King xii). We REALLY want to make that difference. Many of our discussions around this book had to do with wanting to see joy in our students eyes every day. Too often we see students trudging into school,dreading the day ahead. We want to see our students excited about coming to class and we want to feel that same joy while planning lessons. 

Our club’s goal was not only to read and gain ideas from the book, but also enact their suggestions for creatively boosting our instruction. So, we created and embarked on the #wildcardengagementchallenge. Inspired by this book, our challenge was this: Update a space in your classroom, add movement to a lesson, add music to a lesson, OR transform your classroom for a lesson. Overall, our challenge was a big success.

As I reflect on these last few weeks, they have been a lot of fun and I am excited to use these methods to engage my students even more next year! Here are a couple of the things I did to meet our challenge:

After my creative writing class worked on scary story writing, I created a classroom campsite with tarps, lanterns, cricket sounds, and s’mores Poptarts. I loaded a video of a campfire for us to gather around and share our spooky stories.

Reading scary stories around the “fire.”

Eighth graders in Language Arts threw a wedding for Romeo and Juliet. The wedding is skipped over in the play, so students wrote their own vows for Romeo and Juliet and even dressed up for the occasion.

We planned and acted out a wedding. Complete with guests and a reception!

I can attest that actually making these ideas happen is A LOT of work, but it was really worth it. I saw students happy and eager to be in class and engage with the environment that I had created. I will definitely continue to make these ideas a bigger part of my curriculum next year. So, stay tuned for more ideas!

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