Whew! Did everybody survive the first week back after Christmas break? Ours was crazy — a couple of meetings, some creative problem-solving, kids out sick, a newspaper deadline, getting new students settled into an old class, getting myself settled into a new class, and a bit of subbing for an absent colleague — but it was good to be back in my fairyland of a classroom with my hilarious kids and their contagious energy.
To celebrate getting through the week, I gave my sophomores a break and let them spend today playing Spelling Operation.
Spelling Operation is played exactly like regular Operation, except the kids have to spell a word correctly before they can operate on Cavity Sam. If a player misspells a word, the person to his or her left has to spell it. If we go all the way around the circle, and nobody spells the word correctly, I give the correct spelling, and the first player gets to try again with a new word.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of laughter involved.
I started with this spelling list, but after we played this morning, I realized I need to add some easier words to keep the kids from getting discouraged, because most of these words are at or well above grade level — great for challenging your top spellers, but not so great for kids who are struggling. If you wanted to turn the kids loose with the game while you’re catching up the gradebook or tutoring individual students, you could write the words on cards and designate a moderator to draw the cards and read them to the players, but the nice thing about the list is that it allows you to differentiate your instruction on the fly by adjusting the words to fit individual students’ reading levels.
I love this game because it gets the kids engaged in the lesson, appeals to tactile learners, and lends itself well to variations: Swap the spelling words for Marzano vocabulary, replace them with any kind of flash cards (sight words, history facts, math problems, periodic table, etc.), or incorporate higher-order thinking skills by asking open-ended questions and requiring the kids to answer the questions in RACE (restate, answer, cite, explain) format to earn a turn with the tweezers.