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Scoot On Over!

After teaching for 20 or so years (good grief….It simply can’t be!), I have found it can be easy to get stuck in a rut and keep doing the same activities and lessons over and over.  I knew a teacher like this long ago.  She seemed old and tired.  Every day in her classroom was exactly the same.  You could predict how her lessons would go as easily as predicting that it will snow in Alaska sometime during the month of January.  Yes, indeed….it was dull, boring, monotonous, unvaried, lackluster, mundane, uninspiring….you get the picture.

Well, I do not want to be that teacher.  Ever.  I want to be just the opposite: willing to learn and take risks, trying new games and strategies, fun, exciting, and yes, even unpredictable.  I fear I will not be these things, though, if I choose to always take an easy route.  This is why in the past month, I have attempted several new things, and with pretty good amounts of success, I must say.

Anchor charts and task card sets have both been welcome changes in my classroom.  Anchor charts I will save for another entry here, but I do have a few pictures from a previous post that kind of give you the idea.

4 Task Cards from my set of Graphing Points on a Coordinate Plane
For a FREE sample sheet of these task cards, click here.

Task card sets are just what they sound like: a set of cards with topic-centered tasks printed on them.  I decided to have a go at it and created 3 sets for starters.  I also included posters with examples of the topic and corresponding Common Core Standards and “I Can” Statement Posters for reference.  The posters are perfect for pasting into student math journals for their own reference—all I had to do was reduce their size and copy.

Poster with Example of How to Graph Points on a Coordinate Plane
My “I Can” Poster for Students’ Math Journals

Originally, my thought was to use the task cards in either a math center or as independent work.  Then, I stumbled, with great fortune, upon Teaching With a Mountain View’s blog.In this great blog entry, she gives a great description, step by step, on how to use task cards to play a classroom game of Scoot.  Totally new to me, but pretty fun-sounding, so I just had to try it!  Fast forward to today….it worked, it was fun, and ALL students were quietly engaged and furiously working.  If that isn’t success, I don’t know what is!Using Mountain View’s advice and steps, here is what I did:

1.  I placed a different numbered task card on each student’s desk.  Each student also was given his or her own answer sheet on which to record the answers.  We only had 13 students in this particular group, so I only used the first 13 cards from the set.  (There are 28 on-level cards and 4 challenge cards total.)
2.  Directions for “How to Play Scoot” were posted on the Smartboard.  We read, discussed, and clarified the game rules as a class, since it was a completely new game for all of us.



3.  Once everyone understood the directions, it was time to begin SCOOTING!  On your mark, get set, go!  Students were instantly quiet and working as quickly as they could.
When I called out “Scoot”, students took their pencil and answer sheet and moved on to the next desk over with a task card on it.  I had students rotate in a clockwise direction, as that is how I placed the cards in numerical order.


4.  At first, I gave students a longer period of time to solve each problem, to help them gain confidence.  As the game went on, I gave shorter amounts of time to solve problems before I called out “Scoot!”  Every student was fully engaged.    Once students were back to their original seat and starting card, the game was over.
5.  At this point, the teacher has several options.  She can collect all the answer sheets and check them as a type of formative assessment, have students each self-check and then redo the cards they missed, or put the answer key on the Smartboard (if you are lucky enough to have one…) and check together.  I chose this last option.  As students checked their answers, I was able to walk around and observe which questions were most often missed.  We then took some time to look at these questions together and revisit concepts.
6.  Reward the winner(s)!  We had a 4-way tie for first place, so these winners got a round of applause and a sticker for their treasure charts.  Hooray!
Since everyone loved this game, and I felt students were truly engaged in learning and demonstrating mastery of a skill, we will surely use it again.  How many of you out there “Scoot”?
Here’s some more Task Card resources for you!

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Shelly Rees

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1 Comment

  • Ellie Nix July 26, 2014 at 2:24 am

    Hi Shelly,
    Just saw this post:) I had never heard of "Scoot" until the past year, but we've played "Footloose" for years, and it seems to be a very similar idea. The kids love it!

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    I'm Shelly Rees of Appletastic Learning. First and foremost, I'm a mom of 4 boys, wife of 25 years to Aric, and Wyoming girl at heart. I love being creative, making resources for teachers, baking cookies, Diet Coke, teaching, public speaking, and spreading kindness wherever I can. After teaching in the upper elementary grades for over 23 years, I retired early and focused on creating and helping teachers around the world with my teaching ideas and resources. I also serve as a mentor to hundreds of teacherpreneurs and help them get focused on growing their own successful businesses. With 100% honesty, I LOVE my life! Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll stay awhile and come back often. Read More

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