I’ve been testing some new material lately. We finished Outsiders last week, and since S. E. Hinton managed to cram an example into the book of pretty much every single literary term we’re supposed to teach, I finally made a worksheet. And some new literary terms questions based on The Outsiders. (One, two, three)

(Advertising: I updated my Outsiders CPS clicker database to include the three new quizzes about literary terms (30 new questions based on the book), AND three 20-question Challenge Boards. The CPS database is the only place you can get the answers to all the Outsiders quiz questions on the website. Hint. Hint. Go to clickers.mrcoward.com.)

We played Jeopardy last Thursday as a finale to The Outsiders. Actually, now that I have the clickers, I’ve been using the built-in feature called Challenge Boards. (Here’s a screenshot.) You get four categories with 5 questions each, with game point values from 10 to 50. You take previous questions you have used, and drag them into the categories and amounts. Since I have waaay more than 20 questions, we do multiple rounds. I use this as a quiz grade instead of having a final exam (they also do a project). Since each round has 600 game points possible, an A would be 540, a B 480, and so forth. I make each round worth 10 class points, so 540 = 9/10 and the winning team getting +3 more per round. I have enough boards for four rounds, but we usually only get two rounds in. Each group has a “clicker jockey” and a piece of paper with A B C D E F G in large letters. The first time I did this, the kids all “whispered” their answers to their jockey loud enough for Grampa Ott (not to mention the other groups) to hear, so after about three questions of that we came up with the pointing paper. Now there’s all kinds of jabbing and grunting and bouncing up and down.

Anyway the key word in the above paragraph is the word group. These Jeopardy games are some of the very few times I put the kids into groups. (They kept calling them “table groups.” It sounded so cute.) About the only other time is when we do read-around groups. I will blog on this later, when we do it. I told the kids when they asked if they could stay this way…

“This is my 20th year of teaching, and I can count on one hand the number of times I have put my kids into groups for more than one day at a time.”

But the kids had Friday off, while “those of us who work for a living” had some sort of training, Monday was late start TCT, and by the time 9:30 rolled around the desks were still in groups of four. So I left them. They were ecstatic. I was leery.

“I think you guys are physically incapable of sitting this close together, facing each other, and not be jabbering and poking and kicking and…

Whereupon several geniuses start jabbering and poking and kicking and…

So we did the literary terms handout over the course of two periods…in groups. I had to help a lot with the elements of plot side, but they did pretty well finding examples for the literary terms side. We even read the first part of “Monsters are Due on Maple” Street in groups, and they held their own.

Who knows? Maybe this is the nurturing sort of thing this bunch needs.

We go back to rows after a total of three days in groups, and half of them have already forgotten where they used to sit.