Looking for ideas for building an engaging and collaborative classroom culture, even—or especially—while teaching remotely? Check out the games and interactive implementation ideas below to motivate students and build classroom community through NoRedInk assignments.
- Bonus Challenges: If you're looking for a fun way to motivate students to push themselves independently, try out our ideas for bonus challenges. Use these as optional extension activities to complement assignments you are already using in your class, or turn completing them into a longer-term game.
- Interactive Activities: The goal of our interactive activities is to provide creative ways for students to interact or collaborate with one another, using NoRedInk assignments as a jumping-off point. These ideas can be used as freestanding activities.
Motivate students with fun independent activities that will challenge them and help them level up as writers!
- Writing Streak Challenge: Have students write for at least 15 minutes, 5 days in a row, turning their writing in each day.
- Audience Challenge: Have students share a piece of their writing with a friend or family member, then write down the audience's response and turn it in.
- Read Aloud Challenge: Have students record themselves reading their own writing (for example, for a Quick Write assignment) out loud.
- Practice and Revise Challenge: Have students choose a practice topic to complete on their own. Then, have them revise a piece of their writing specifically looking out for errors relevant to the topic they completed. Students should jot down one example of an error they corrected and turn it in.
- Practice Streak Challenge: Have students complete at least one topic every day for 5 days in a row. Each day, students should submit a screenshot of the "Mastery achieved" screen that shows the day and time on their device.
- Quiz Master Challenge: Have students write three of their own questions for a topic of their choice, including an answer key.
- Explain Your Thinking Challenge: Have students create a video of themselves talking through their thinking as they answer a question and explaining why their answer is correct.
- Lesson Designer Challenge: Have students create their own lesson for a topic of their choice. They can choose to write the lesson, draw it, or create a video.
NoRedInk Challenge Bingo!
You can also make the challenges above into a longer-term game of Bingo. Students can track which challenges they’ve completed by marking them off on the NoRedInk Challenge Bingo Card.
Options for implementation
- Use the NoRedInk Challenge Bingo Card as is! The linked pdf includes:
- a card for students to track completed challenges
- instructions for each of the writing and grammar challenges above, plus some additional challenges
- Use this blank Bingo card to personalize your Bingo game. Add only the challenges that are most appropriate and relevant to your students and what you are currently working on. Feel free to list some challenges multiple times on the card.
- Give students the option to personalize their own Bingo game using the blank Bingo card.
- Set a goal for students to independently complete a column or row of challenges, or the entire card at their own pace over a month. Celebrate each time a student completes a row or column!
- Make it a race! See who can complete a row or column (or the entire card) first.
- Put students in small groups, and have groups work together to complete the challenges on a single Bingo card. In other words, one student completes some challenges on the card while others complete other challenges on the card. Small groups could race against each other to make this activity both collaborative and competitive.
The following freestanding games and interactive activities can help you build an engaging and collaborative classroom community using NoRedInk assignments as a jumping-off point.
1. Grammar and Writing “In the Wild” Hunt
Send students on a hunt to find examples of grammar rules or writing skills being used in the real world!
Steps to implement
- After students complete a practice topic on NoRedInk, identify a rule or skill for them to look for. Depending on what the class is working on, this could relate to grammar (e.g., using irregular past tense verbs) or writing (e.g., using a hook to draw readers in).
- Give students the rule or skill and ask them to search for as many examples as they can find “in the wild.” Give them a minimum goal of examples to find (for instance, three examples). They can look online, in newspapers or books, on signs in their local area—any real-world example works!
- When students find an example, they should write it down or take a screenshot or a photo.
- Have students share and explain their examples with the whole class, in pairs, or in small groups.
- Make it a race! The first student to (correctly) find three examples of the rule or skill is the winner!
- Make it a recurring activity. For example, every Friday, students can share “wild” examples of a grammar rule or writing skill you worked on that week.
2. Mad Lib Sentences
Challenge students to exercise their imaginations and practice identifying parts of speech by creating their own mad libs, then pairing up to complete each other's mad libs!
Steps to implement
- Use this pre-made Quick Write to ask students to do the following:
- Write one creative sentence including at least one noun, one adjective, and one past tense verb. (Feel free to switch these out for any other parts of speech that you want your students to practice!)
- Pair up students. Tell pairs of students swap their sentences from the second bullet above with each other. Then, they should use the random words they wrote down for the third bullet above to fill in the noun, adjective and verb in their partner’s sentence.
- Pairs can decide whose final sentence is funniest and share these with the class.
- If your students need a refresher on the parts of speech you’re using, assign them to practice the appropriate topics!
3. Character Swap
Create a Character Swap Quick Write challenge for students to practice descriptive and narrative writing! First, have each student invent a character. Then, have them swap characters with a classmate and write a story using a character created by a classmate.
Steps to implement
- Assign this prompt to help students come up with their own characters.
- Then, tweak and assign this second prompt for each student to include one of the character descriptions submitted by a classmate in step 1. The prompt asks students to write a scene from a story involving a classmate's character, and includes some suggestions to help them get started.
- Invite students to share their stories with the classmate who developed the character they wrote about. What’s the character creator's reaction?
- Share all of the character descriptions with the class and have the class vote on their three favorite. Then, each student writes a scene from a story including all three of these characters.
- Instead of writing just about a classmate’s character, prompt students to write about an interaction between their own character and a classmate’s character.
- Give each student 3 or 4 character descriptions and ask them to write a scene from a story involving all of these characters.
- Assign a Narrative Guided Draft for students to write a complete story rather than just a short scene.
4. “Exquisite Corpse” Collaborative Story
Build a sense of classroom community by writing a story in which each student adds a paragraph! To make things interesting, when it’s their turn to write, students will only be able to read the paragraph that was written immediately before their own.
Steps to implement
- Explain the idea of the “exquisite corpse” story to students: everyone will contribute one paragraph to the story, but when it's their turn they will only be able to see the paragraph immediately before their own.
- Each day, copy the paragraph the last student submitted, paste it in this Quick Write prompt, and assign it to the next student. (This prompt includes a first line you can give to get the first student going.)
- As students submit their paragraphs, compile them together in a Google doc.
- Once all students have had a turn, share the resulting silly story with the whole class!
5. Lesson Library
Create a class library of student-made lessons for NoRedInk topics! Their lessons could include written explanations, drawings, screenshots, or videos.
Steps to implement
- When students complete a topic, have them create their own lessons for the topic, including explanations and examples they think would help their classmates.
- After students submit their lessons, save them in a central location and share them with the rest of the class.
- Invite students to browse the class’s lesson library if they get stuck while working on a topic to see if another student’s lesson may help them out!
- Make creating a lesson a one-time assignment (for example, ask every student to create one lesson on a topic of their choice, or provide a list of topics for students to choose from).
- Make creating lessons a reoccurring, weekly bonus assignment (for example, students can choose any topic covered that week and create a lesson for it).
- Add in ways for students to get points, and create a leaderboard to track these points and motivate students to create more and better lessons! For example, students could get points for each lesson they add to the class lesson library, or each time another student is helped by one of their lessons.
6. Caption Contest
Pick a fun image or photograph, and assign students a Quick Write prompt with a link to your image for students to write a caption.
Steps to implement
- Assign this pre-made Quick Write—just add a link to your image!
- Share all of the submissions with the class so that students can vote on the cleverest (or funniest, or most original) caption.
7. Prompt Contest
Ask students to come up with their own ideas for Quick Write prompts—short, engaging writing assignments—for the class. Then vote to see which one to assign!