Operation: Evidence – Meeting Common Core with Fun!

My kids are ridiculously hard workers. They deserve a break from the drill and kill that the county/state insists on. Which means as a teacher, I have had to become creative. So this thing was born.

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The concept is easy. I came up with 33 questions that could easily be used for just about any text. Some are more appropriate for informational texts, some for narrative, and some for either. When I use these during Teacher Time, I choose carefully based on our close read.

In the file I have up on TPT, the cards are placed on a blank background so you can use any colored card stock your little organized heart desires. I went with pink, orange, and yellow. Not-so-shockingly, my girls went all Hunger Games style on each other for all the pink cards. Probably should have thought that one through first.

Anywhere, want to see it in action? Look at my adorable little super star with a blue smiley face. I could eat him. I won’t. That would be a breach of my contract, I think.

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Everything is thrilling when you are 8 years old and you have a highlighter in your hand. Even a FOURTH close read. 

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Example of how one of my girls used the cards with fill in the blanks. I filled these in based on the text, prior to starting the game. This allowed me to walk around the room and check on the rest of the centers while my hard workers at Teacher Time searched for evidence. Again, this was accomplished after a fourth read.


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The sheer amount of colorful cards.

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By the way, I  threw the game label on half of a manilla file folder. I cut an entire manilla folder in half, then laminated it WHILE FOLDED. I cut around the edges, leaving plenty of room to stay sealed. Then I used sharp scissors to cut the top part of the folder, so I could throw the cards inside. Some groups picked out of the folder, but then I got tired of that and just put them face-down on the table for later groups instead. Sorry, kids. 

No matter how you utilize something like this, the point is that a) they are engaged and b) they are thinking deeply about the text. I would emphasize that it’s important that the students have read the text at least two times before playing this type of game for a few reasons. One, they likely have a better understanding of the text as a whole. Two, they will be able to locate their evidence much more quickly, than if this is based on just a first read. This could frustrate them and reduce the practicality of the game.

So there it is. Operation: Evidence. Would love to give this away to one person by the end of the week. Tell me: what do YOU do to keep the kids engaged and excited to learn, even with the heavy, sometimes suffocating rigor involved with education today?

Happily given away to follower, dburr2014!


13 thoughts on “Operation: Evidence – Meeting Common Core with Fun!

  1. I also teach third and would love to win this. I try to keep it as fun as possible. One thing I do that is cheap and easy is I buy neon drink stirrers from Wal-Mart that are super cheap (like 200 for $3) and these are reading sticks. They use these as guides when they are doing close reads making it more hands on! The kids love it and I love the price!

  2. Great idea and learning tool. I am always trying to find new ways to engage my students. I love a quote about teaching with real world experience than you answer the question of why do I have to learn this. I just learned a new way to teach erosion and the students were able to see the earth break apart due to water erosion in an experiment first hand. They were using the academic vocabulary and they did great on the assessment.

    • Hands-on = instant engagement. Isn’t it so exciting when you hear them using the right vocabulary to describe something? That means you’ve done something right. Awesome!

  3. I have “question spinners” like the kind you use in twister to see what color you have and the students love using their pencil and a paper clip to spin! My kids also love any short videos I can show them to help better their understanding! These cards look awesome! I don’t know how you do it all!!

  4. Awesome idea! When we apply our new skill or review exams, I model to the students first and connect the text to their lives to get them excited and engaged, small discussion with the class. Then, we do it by tables. A table can read the question out loud and another may answer it. Basically, I float around keeping the students engaged and focus on my “bubble” babies. Tables earn points and we celebrate new findings, evidence, connections, and learn from our misconceptions. It can be tirying for the students, so I include my brain breaks while asking content questions. The students use highlighters and post its to support their answers!

    • Connecting the text to their lives is such an important step that many of us probably forget to do often enough. Definitely important to show them the link. Celebrating is also a huge element to keeping kids engaged. It sounds like you definitely know how to keep your babies focused and on task. Would love to be a fly on your wall. 🙂

  5. I absolutely love how you made blanks where you can write in specifics for different stories. I use dice/spinners to make things seem like a game and highlighters any chance I can since the kids love them. Also, just being as excited about things as I can be rubs off on them. Hope I’m not too late for the giveaway!

    • You’re definitely not too late! I’ll be waiting until the weekend. 🙂 I think you hit the nail on the head — make anything seem like a game AND act like everything you do is the most exciting thing in the entire world, and these little ones will buy in pretty quickly. Makes life more fun for us too!

  6. I love the card option! I began doing something similar in math last year with word problems and as small groups they pick one at a time. It’s amazing their excitement for choosing what they get to work on. Never really thought about it for reading. I could absolutely use this for one of my 4th grade reading groups!

  7. My real-world activity went with essential details and the students created crime scenes and had to include essential details to put in the picture. They then had to explain why they chose them as essential details. Like you and others said, we need to create a real-world purpose and meaning for them!

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