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The GREAT Sentence Raffle Race!

We had a test on Friday, and as I was preparing review lessons for the week I felt a twinge of dread in the pit of my stomach at the thought of doing another day of a 'Jeopardy style' review games - don’t get me wrong, the kids love it and I think it’s an effective way to review material, but I always find it exhausting to try and refocus my huge class of 6th graders for each question. Plus, they always have so much energy when we play that they are bursting out of their seats (and I want to let them get out of their seats!)

As I was pondering my predicament an idea came to me, like a great big flood of divine-creative intervention.

While I was thinking it through, I was like… holy cow, this checks all my boxes.

Text-based review? Check.

Movement? Check.

Collaboration? Check.

Reading? Check.

Writing? Check.

Critical thinking? Check.

Fun & engaging? Check.

Essentially, The Great Sentence Raffle Race is a review game where you start with a bunch of questions cut into strips of paper. The students need to complete one at a time with their group and have it checked by me before they can go on to the next question. Each question the group completes becomes a raffle ticket, and at the end of the game I draw three tickets out of the basket and those groups win prizes.

After first period, I knew I had struck gold. I was ecstatic at the complete and total engagement I had going on in the room, and everywhere I looked I saw kids reading, writing, talking, running, smiling, dancing! (see video below).

Although my race was specifically targeted at reviewing grammar concepts, I know you could create your own sentence (or equation) questions for any content.

I hope you find this lesson as fun and exciting as we did.

Here are the details if you want to give it a try:

The Objective

As the title would suggest, the game culminates to a raffle drawing (for prizes). The objective of the game is to get as many “tickets” entered into the raffle as possible (the more tickets you have, the greater chances you have of winning*.)

* One of the best things about this game is that even if one team is moving much slower than the others, they don’t feel completely defeated, because they still have a good chance of winning a prize (and they often do!) I love the randomness of the prizes at the end, it keeps the students engaged the whole way through.

The Tickets

In my version, each “ticket” asks the students to write a complete sentence (with correct spelling and punctuation). Each sentence is focused on a different grammar/punctuation/capitalization rule or part of speech. The first set of tickets require that the students find an example in one of their books of a sentence that is following that rule and copy the sentence down correctly.

The second half of the tickets are the same as the first, but this time they ask the students to write their own sentences. This way, the students are able to review the concepts with the help of strong mentor texts, then apply those same skills through their own writing.

The Set Up

1. Create the tickets

If you are a middle school ELA teacher, you can download my raffle tickets here, if not - you could make your own*.

I usually prepare about 30 different tickets/questions. Make sure to number each question, so the students can move sequentially through the tickets.

*This is where The Great Sentence Raffle Race might turn into The Great Equation Raffle Race or The Great History Raffle Race or what have you. Basically, what I am saying is that while I explain how I use it for grammar review, it can easily be applied to any content.

2. Print and cut the tickets into raffle strips

Keep in mind, you’ll need enough for each group to have one multiplied by the total number of periods you teach (which can be a lot of tickets and take a decent amount of time cutting into strips.)

Each ticket needs to be numbered, cut into its own individual strip, and laid out on a table.

3. Bring a big basket or bucket for raffle tickets

4. Determine prizes

I do three raffle drawings at the end:

Third prize - everyone in the group wins a piece of candy

Second prize - everyone in the group gets to shoot the basketball hoop in my room, and if they make it in, they get to choose from a bag of big (dollar store!) prizes.

First prize - everyone in the group gets a piece of candy and a chance to shoot the hoop.

*Obviously you can choose whatever prizes will work for your kids.

5. Create group seating and/or groups