6 + 48 = Innovation

Kim Bates - Jenga 1

By Kim Bates
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community CollegeTerry Campus

This is the story of how 6 employees from across the Terry campus collaborated to create an innovative teaching strategy with 48 wooden blocks.

Allan Nelson from the Admin Services Team recently built a giant Jenga set for a Welcome Week activity. The idea came from Jacqueline Cameron, a recent graduate and former Student Success Aide.

Kim Austin, an Academic Counselor, created a list of ice breaker questions. One question was taped to each block. When a student removed a block from the structure, he or she answered the question before placing the block on top of the tower. Just like the Jenga game, the process continues until the blocks topple.

When I first heard about this activity, I wondered if the blocks would be available for classroom use. Well, it turns out they are a bit too heavy to carry from my office to the classroom. I talked to Dallas Hayes, Instructional Designer, about the block size and he suggested using a regular-sized Jenga game.

“But how would I tape the questions to the smaller blocks?” I asked.

“Don’t tape them”, he said, “color code them. I just had this same conversation with Stacey Pounsberry!”

Brilliant! I could use two or three colors and have the same number of question sets. That way the blocks could be used for any content, without too much extra work.

Kim Bates - Jenga 2After work, I purchased a generic set of blocks for under $7.00 I also bought 2 paint pens; they cost about $2 each. I painted one end of blocks either red or blue; some were left unpainted. I showed the painted set to Stacey and she used them a few days later in her English class. Here’s how Stacey set it up:

  1. She chose two team captains who took turns selecting their team members.
  2. The team that chose their members second took the first turn.
  3. Each team was given 30 seconds to write their answer to earn 2 points.
  4. If the correct answer wasn’t written by the end of 30 seconds, the question went to the other team.
  5. The other team had 30 seconds to write their answer to earn 1 point.
  6. The team that toppled the tower lost 3 points.
  7. The winning team received an extra point on their lowest graded assignment for the semester.

I plan to use the block tower next week to review some material from the students’ reading assignment. First, I’ll ask the students to write the questions that we’ll use during the review.

And that’s the story of how 6 + 48 = Innovation.

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