Take the Temperature of the Room

It’s 8 am and your job is get 30 sleepy 14-year-olds excited about English class. What can you do? Learn one teacher’s creative solution.

Imagine being met by 30 sleepy 14-year-olds at 8 am. Your job is to get them engaged and excited to learn. This month’s tip comes from high school language arts teacher Jackie Amatucci:

“I came up with the idea of have each student do a one-word check-in on how they were feeling by imagining a thermometer measuring 1 to 10 degrees. One degree means, ‘I wish I was still in bed’ and 10 degrees is, ‘I am ready and excited to learn’! Each person says their first name and where they sit on the thermometer. We’d zip right around the room and I would acknowledge each response with equal appreciation regardless of the number. By the end of this quick go around, there was always a remarkably positive shift in the room.

A few days after starting this, one student spontaneously wrote down each classmate’s number and came up with an average for the day. He then charted the daily averages to show the mood of the group over the course of a week. I’m convinced that imagining the thermometer set off a creative ripple in the group that resulted in the chart. We did this for several weeks with great results.”

Here are three other imaginative ways to do a quick check in whether in a classroom or a workshop:

  1. What animal do you feel like today?
  2. What’s your personal weather forecast?
  3. What kind of vehicle do you feel like today?

Photo credit: Ella Cooper

Author: Peggy Taylor, MEd is the Co-founder and Creative Director of Partners for Youth Empowerment

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