M & M's Madness with guest blogger, Dr. Gambone

Join me in welcoming Upcycled Education’s new monthly guest blogger, a good friend and colleague, Dr. Gambone.  Yay, Dr. G!  Dr. G's specialities are critical thinking and student engagement.  For any college student or workshop attendee who has had the pleasure of being in one of Dr. G's classes or trainings, let’s just say, Dr. G’s style of teaching is a tremendous treat.  As Dr. G believes, “Anyone can know content, but having the tools to teach that content and make it meaningful & engaging is another story.” 

Take it away, Dr. G……

You can imagine my delight when Jen asked me to guest blog (about once a month) on Upcycled Education and share some old - and new - engaging strategies for your classroom (or future classroom).  Ready to begin?
Since it is the beginning of a new semester for most educators, let’s start with an oldie, but goodie (literally)…M & M's madness!
Let’s face it, humans love treats! If you work in a school that is “sugar/candy free” (or you dislike food in the classroom like Jen does) then you might use colored tiles (or paint swatches!) or something else like stickers, dice, playing cards, etc. On the first day, have students choose any two different colored M & M’s (or Starbursts, Skittles, etc.).  Once students have chosen their two different colored M & M’s, have question prompts ready for each color. Here are sample questions I like to use:
  • Red:  What is the most unique thing about you?
  • Blue:  What is the most adventurous thing you did this summer?
  • Green:  Why are you taking this course?
  • Brown:  What are you most excited to learn this semester?
  • Yellow:  What will be your biggest challenge this semester?
  • Orange:  What do you like most about this school?  Grade?  Subject area?
Next, have students share their responses to the questions with either the whole class or more likely in small groups (depending on size).  To bring closure to the activity, have the whole class discuss what “this group” brings to the table as a collective whole.
Why this tried and true (and tasty) activity?  It consistently engages many different age groups, allows students a structured opportunity to share something about themselves, and aids in building a classroom community chock full of connections with others.  Another bonus: For busy educators, the prep time for this activity is minimal.

Thank you, Dr. G, for planting the M & M's seed.  Come back, fabulous blog reader, in a few weeks for another activity from our new monthly, guest blogger, Dr. G.

I’m off to raid my pantry.  There's got to be some M & M's or Starbursts in there.  If not, you know I have paint swatches.  Remember this post?