January and February are not the most inspiring months of the school year in Michigan. My district needs both computerized standardized tests and midyear grades in this season and the cold, gray days stretch out in a seemingly unending pattern of snow or no snow, but always damp and dreary.
Now is the time to shake things up, both for your own sanity and that of your students. One way I have attempted to shake off the winter blahs is to add more games to my instruction. Chris Grabenstein’s book series Mr. Lemoncello’s Library gave me the inspiration to gamify more of my content. I won’t lie. I got the key to the wonderful games Mr. Grabenstein offers to teachers through his website. They are far more clever than my feeble attempts, but they were just too hard for my young English Language Learners, so I took up the challenge to make something that was challenging, but doable at my school. The students enjoy them and it breaks the dull routine, but the real benefit was to me as a teacher/librarian. I was forced to think about what my students know or don’t know, to identify gaps in background knowledge and areas where strategies need to be taught, then think of ways to incorporate that knowledge and teaching into a game. My brain had to stretch and make new connections. New learning challenges always cheer me up and give me a little more pep in my step. Which makes designing learning games a great way to shake off the winter blahs. You will at least amuse yourself and your students might just learn something new.