Engaging students in the classroom gets more challenging each year. Students are bombarded with more and more stimuli in their day-to-day lives. Gaming systems and social media technology sets the bar higher and higher if you want to impress your kiddos.
At the same time there is still fundamental joy in some classic pastimes. Kids still jump rope, throw a ball and even hula hoop. Simple games in the classroom also have survived the test of time.
There’s something about dice; they’re just fun. A pair of dice can gamify any activity. And a digital die gives you even more options. They’re great for a quick 5-minute activity at the end of class , or can be the basis for a whole lesson.
4 Ideas for Using Digital Dice in Your Class
1. Getting to know You
I used my dice the very first day of school. You know how many teachers go around the room asking students to say their name and maybe one fact about themselves? Some kids don’t know what to say or feel put on the spot.
Enter my mighty die. Each student introduces themselves with their name, then rolls the die. I have 6 categories, one for each number on the die: favorite food, best place you’ve visited, least favorite sport, etc.
This helps in two ways. The student can come up and roll, or I’ll roll and they tell me when to stop. Extroverted students enjoy getting up and talking about themselves. So it’s fun to come to the front of the room and play with my computer.
My introverts can safely stay in their seat. Having the die roll gives them something to do other than feeling self-conscious. And they don’t have to think about what to talk about; the die tells them.
2. Check for Understanding at the End of Class
This is the most frequent way that I use digital dice. For example, I just created a lesson on the 4 MAIN causes of World War 1 (Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism and Nationalism for any non-history teachers out there) They also learned that the Balkans were a “powder keg” prior to the war, ready to blow at any moment.
In order to ascertain what they did and did not “get” We played dice for the last 5 or 6 minutes of class. Each number on the dice was 1 of the terms we covered:
5= Powder keg
6= Your Choice
Students can volunteer to roll the die, but I also call on a few that I want to check on. You can have the kids come up and roll the die or roll it yourself and the student yells “stop” depending on time and logistics.
3. Offer students choice
It’s important to infuse student choice into your lessons as often as possible. I have a post on the topic here. The die comes in handy in this realm, too.
For example, if you’re engaging in group work where each group is analyzing a different document some readings are usually harder or longer than others. To make it feel more fair have group roll the die to choose which document they will analyze.
When students are answering questions with short responses it’s fun to allow them to roll the die to decide how many sentences they have to write as an answer. Sometimes they get lucky and roll a 1, sometimes you get lucky and they roll a 6!
4. Team competitions as a review
Playing competitive group games as a review of a unit is always a hit. I have a post of 17 different review games for middle and high school you can check out here. Unfortunately, it seems that no matter how hard I try to make the teams fair by sprinkling the star students into each group, somehow one team seems to pull ahead early, which can disengage the others.
Here is the twist that levels the playing field. After a group gets an answer correct, instead of getting a given number of points they roll the die. Whatever number comes up, that’s the points. So the group answering more may roll 1’s and 2’s and a lagging group can catch up quickly by rolling a 5 or 6.
For the final round of your review game try doubling the points rolled to really make it interesting:)
5 Choosing which group presents first
When it comes times for groups to present during a scaffolded lesson here’s what my kiddos yell, “Not it!” There’s the occasional group that wants to go first but most want to go last.
Out comes my digital die. I start with the youngest or oldest or tallest or the one who has a birthday this week — you get the gist. That group rolls first and then we go clockwise from there.
This works out perfectly because my class usually has exactly 6 groups. Even if you don’t you can work it out. If there are 4 and a group rolls a 6 they’re just he last ones.
Are you getting some other ideas of how you can use your digital dice from the few I mentioned? Snag them down below and let your creativity flow!
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