This week my school had Plexiglass Barriers installed. The district has decided that this will facilitate safe full 5 day in person meetings. There are problems with the plexiglass beginning with the fact that CDC still recommends 3 feet of spacing and students will only 2 feet apart if side by side. Also after 2 days it is abundantly clear that the students don’t stay in their area because it is awkwardly isolating, difficult to see and hear, and claustrophobic. The students are not wearing their masks correctly or not at all because they think the plexi is a safe barrier even though guidelines clear require continual masking. Also, you know how people pick their noses at stop lights because they don’t think anyone can see in their car even though they are surrounded by glass? same thing is happening here.
From a teaching point of view this plexiglass is awful. It is MORE isolating than distance learning. If you’ve seen pictures on the internet of plexi in classrooms they don’t give a true picture of what it actually looks like. Because of the reflections, diffraction at the seams, and a yellowing in person effect there are some areas of the room that are mostly invisible from certain spots. Students don’t answer questions because they feel alone and when they do its nearly impossible to hear them. It feels like being in a labyrinth. God help you if you want to pass out papers.
So, how do we make the best of this bad situation? A former principal use to tell us “There is no such thing as a problem, only opportunities.” Thinking about the possible “opportunities” I have been trying to brainstorm some games that make use of the plexiglass with the help of some of my Twitter Community (shout out to Justin Hodges @thesega, Isabella Thompson @missiothompson, Jason Ashmore @Mister_Ashmore, Sarah Finn (Reason) @sreason329, and Mr. Aller @Mr_Aller_).
My wife is a 4th grade teacher that has had plexiglass for a while. She was joking with me that when she has to hand out papers she walks past the plexi-cubical and shouts “AIRMAIL” and drops the papers from over the top of the glass. Its funny but also necessary and inspired me with this game.
- Safety First. We are in a Pandemic! So, maintain social distancing. Touching items seems ok as covid is an airborne disease and doesn’t seem to transfer onto surfaces well. Even so hand washing and sanitizer after the games will be needed.
AIR MAIL GAME (this is a work in progress and needs playtesting)
- Start with Two Big Binder Clips and a few rubber bands. My room has tables with plexiglass that is about 3 feet apart so you might need to adjust. I linked 3 rubber bands together.
- Put one end of the rubber band into one of the binder clips and the other end of the rubber band into the second binder clip.
- Attach the clips to the plexiglass like so.
- You now have a slingshot.
- Prepare whatever items will be shot across the room. My game will be outlined below. These items can be shot over the plexiglass to a partner or opponent across the room.
Air Mail Periodization Game (version 1)
- This game is based on this skill in my US History and Constitution Standards.
- The game will also be based on Standard 4 USHC4.P: Summarize the changing role of the government in the economy during the period 1917 to 1945.
- Create the “Mail” cards. I will create a series of statements (from primary and secondary sources) that will identify the role of government during the eras that we have studied in this unit. The statements will be cut out as 3×5 cards. I anticipate the need for 3 of each statement cards for each pairing as the accuracy will not be good at first.
- 4 “Mailboxes” (just boxes) labeled World War I, 1920s, New Deal, and World War II.
- Each Student will need 2 large binder clips and 3-4 rubber bands.
Rules (Variant 1)
- Students will be in groups of 2.
- Student A will have the mail cards and Student B will have the Mailboxes.
- Student A will have to “send” the cards to Student B. Student B cannot leave their plexiglass station to retrieve lost mail.
- Student B is responsible for Sorting the mail into the correct boxes. Student A can advise but cannot leave their plexiglass box.
- Students will continue the game until there is no more mail to sort
Rules (Variant 2)
- Student will be in groups of 2.
- The Mail will be mixed evenly between Students A and B.
- Each student will have 2 of the 4 Mailboxes. The students will need to either 1) sort the mail they have into the correct box or 2) send mail that does not go to their mailbox to their partner.
- Students cannot leave their plexiglass box. Once the students are out of mail then items not in the mailboxes are considered “lost” and will receive no points.
- Students will continue until either 1) there is no more mail to be sent or 2) they are satisfied that they have sorted correctly.
Score will be based on correctly sorting the mail and finishing order.
Teams will receive 5 points in multiples of ten for the order of completion. First team finished will earn 25 points, second team 20, third place 15, fourth place 10, fifth place 5, sixth place 0. The points will be adjusted if there are less teams.
Teams will receive 5 points for every correctly sorted piece of mail. There will be 5 pieces of mail for each of the 4 category for a total 100 possible points for mail sorting. Lost or incorrectly sorted mail will give 0 points.
Standard 4.P “Mail Cards”