I have found a way to get my 8th graders interested in learning about the 50 states. (Well, actually, I’m a teacher, so I stole the idea from my colleague.)
Play Around the World. Make it competitive. My students are 13 year-olds. Of course they would love competition. Especially when its against the rest of the class. Especially when they get to move around the class. Especially when the lights are off. Especially when their teacher gets excited. Especially when their teacher messes up!
On my overhead projector, I have a map of the 50 states with numbers. I will have two students stand next to each other. Using my pointer rod, I point to a state. The students raise their hands to answer which state it is. Following the same rules as the game “Around the World,” they get super competitive. Judging who raised their hand first, trying to stop those who have long runs, pulling their opponent’s hand down, etc. One kid screeches in “fright” whenever it is his turn. The entire class laughs, I’m doubled-over laughing.
I allow students to point. They pretend not to point. Then they move the pointer rod at the last minute. They point to Canada. Friends use secret codes to know which one to point to.
I get really into this game. My students love it. There is one another U.S. History teacher. We are going to have a tournament with the top 4 of each period. I love this game. My students have asked, “Are we going to play the state game today?”
Well, here is a story of how into it I get. Also a story of how much of goof I am. But, my students need a laugh.
When I point, I would usually say the number on the state as well. California is labeled as “3”. However, once I pointed to California, then said, “California!”
Oops! I gave out the answer! The students cracked up! I realized my mistake and laughed too.
Next period, halfway through the competition, I pointed to California and said, “Cali…three!” Dang! Did it again!
Period after…”Califor…..I mean 3! Number 3!” Students were cracking up! I was too. I told them how I had done it every period thus far.
I must really love California.
And this game.
I love teaching.