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It's... Almost... Over #notyet

Posted by on in Assessment
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The sun is setting on yet another school year.  It is about this time that teachers start talking about how kids have checked out, senioritis has kicked in, and spring fever is rampant.  I was lucky enough to be able to spend the last 27 years studying this problem.  I took blood samples from over three thousand students on the first day of school, and then again nine months later.  Every year I found the same thing...nothing.  No sign of spring fever, senoritis, or any of the other maladies that teachers were complaining their kids contract every year around this time.  When I dug deeper into the research what I found was shocking :)  Kids were slowly developing a common problem that was being misdiagnosed.  They were bored.  They did not want to be, they were just tired of doing the same thing over and over and over again.  

If your kids have caught boredom, I have some possible cures in this post.  Things you can do with your kids that are different than what they would normally expect to do.  Activities that allow them to be bold, have fun, and be themselves.  Some might even be considered challenging and difficult.  But don't worry, the most memorable experiences in your class will come when kids do things that they previously thought were impossible.  

A short warning before you continue.  Two years ago it was proven that kids can overdose on boredom.  They can become so bored that recovery is a difficult and slow process.  The same study showed that there is no possibility of overdosing in class on fun, creativity, courage, or being different.  There are two paths your kids can take to success, being like everyone else or being like no one else. Which one are you modeling for your kids in the final weeks?

Clicking on each title below leads to a boredom busting activity.

RSA Videos

RSA videos are a huge crowd pleaser.  The kids really enjoyed making them.  Post production can be teacher intensive depending on your tech tools available and tech expertise of your kids.

Note card Confessions

I am still tweaking this in my head for next year.  This year it got placed into a unit that was chopped up with half-days, snow days, and scheduling changes.  There is a lot of potential with this.

Full class music videos

What can I say…my favorite.  Not everyone has to sing.  Many different roles are involved for kids of all levels.  Here is one from this year.

Commoncraft Style Videos

I haven’t done Common Craft Style videos in a couple years, but it is a neat gateway project for teachers looking to do something different.

Reader’s theatre

Alright…I know this one seems so simple.  But it can be so powerful.  Take one story and split it into parts…split paragraphs, splits lines, to make it more powerful than if read straight through. The link is actually to one that we did with a primary source.  The students have done them in a variety of styles.  One that stick out is three kids who wrote letters home from the Oregon trail.  Each one read one sentence at a time, but when read it sounded like one single letter.  Again, simple idea, but they take time to play with the information and the processing produces some great learning.  Can be done with two kids, small group, or an entire class.


I am a fan of the assessment that doesn’t smell like an assessment.  We did PSA’s on current problems using the technique’s of 19th Century Progressives.  Each of the PSAs did not on the surface seem to connect to 19th Century United States History. But for example, the student who created the PSA in the link could make a historical connection for each part of her video.  They were all collected onto a Posterous site, but Posterous has since closed!  Here is a link with a little more info on what we did.  I almost deleted this after re-reading this post simply because it is hard to see how this is an assessment, and how it really does connect to our 19th century history unit.  You’ll have to just trust me.

1000 Words

Neat idea that I am refining.  This was the first year I tried it.  I think there is some potential to use it not only with images, but text as well.

Stop Action Animation

An idea that can be very complex, or very simple (the link is to a simple one).  Here is one from this year.

Lip Synch

Take a famous video clip, and have the kids synch what they leaned to it.  Seriously…these always feel like a train wreck when I have tried them.  I always say never again…but then one kid will convince me to try it again.  Not sure about the value, but I can say that it takes so many attempts and practice that they certainly remember the facts.

Reverse Poems

Ok…I have to admit I have not successfully completed these with a class.  They are SOOO hard.  The link brings you to the one that inspires us to keep trying, and here is one from last year and one from this year that was pretty good.  The idea is one perspective when read one way, and the opposite perspective when read the other.  While we have done a bunch on paper, putting them into video can be challenging.

Black-out Poems

These are really neat.  Nothing had the class so quiet and focused this year.  They really need a student to present and explain, don’t really do well standing alone in a blog post.  In person they are a hit.


I loved this assessment.  I really learned a lot from it and and it started a trend for me to start using less technology in class.

Lip synch, dances, and more

Just a bunch of random ideas in this link

Poetry Slam

Simply the one unit that kids talk about years after they graduate.  It is also the unit that is most dependent on the teacher.  I have watched another teacher do the same unit and it simply did not fly.  If you cannot motivate, energize and kick some butt….leave this one alone.

Fish Bowl Discussions + another

Neat way to have more of a conversation rather than a back and forth between teacher and students.


A fun activity that can be used with primary and secondary sources that automatically injects creativity and imagination into the final product.


I don’t often recommend a tool to use with all kids, but I will  recommend Powtoon.  Kids love it.

Personification of Primary Source Documents

I great idea for a lesson I wish I created, but I just ripped it off someone else!

Playing with Blocks

I have been trying to work more “play” into my lessons.  The type of play in which learning is the surprise ending.

Instagramification of History

This is one of those very quick witty assignments.

Making posters

I know, posters are boring, they are tech free, old fashion….but they still have a place in a classroom.


You might have heard of Genius Hour or 20% Time…this is our version.


I realized that because we use computers a lot, there was no physical evidence of our learning anywhere in the school.  From the front door to my door on the top floor, there was no evidence of what anyone in the school is learning about.  We had to change that.

“My Darling Wife…A Civil War Letter”

One of my favorite assessments this year.  It included no original words from the students, but a lot of digging around in primary sources.

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Paul taught middle school social studies for 26 years, and is currently trying to reinvent himself as an alternative high school social studies teacher. Since writing a bio about yourself is hard, he asked a student to finish it and this is what she wrote:)
Paul Bogush is a remarkable man. His teaching methods are fun and unique, and he makes every class enjoyable. His energetic mood is infectious, and you can’t help but smile around him. He is very genuine, and is not strict or boring like other teachers. Everything he says is always stuck in your mind, because he delivers everything with boldness and confidence. He’s an all around incredible person, and makes learning ten times more fun than any other class. He will be dearly missed by not just me, but most of his students when we leave next year.

PS please send help, we weren’t very good listeners in homeroom this week so he has us in lock down every afternoon for a week.
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Guest Friday, 28 October 2016