Joe Name It


This week our lunch time game focused on figuring out if we were smarter than the average joe with the card game, Joe Name It. This time we were able to add a member to our games with Zulama’s latest addition to the staff, Tim. So with 5 players, a deck of trivia cards and one die we began the longest single round game of our reviews so far. But the time did not hinder the fun of our gameplay.

The object of the game is this: be the first to 10 cards while answering trivia questions that will be asked with the addition of a number from the rolled die. For example, “Name 3 movie robots”. If you draw an Any Joe card, the first to answer in the group wins. If you draw a Just Joe card, it becomes you against the clock or Joe. If you can’t come up with an answer Joe gets your card. There are a few other ways that Joe can earn cards, but your objective remains the same. Win cards and win them fast with fun trivia.

FullSizeRender (1)Going through random trivia facts such as “Name a movie with 2 sequels” or “Who was the 5th president of the United States?” proved to be a fun and interesting challenge. We had a few issues with the game when going through the rules and determining when to give up and give the card to Joe. But at the end of our game lunch, we all agreed that it was a fun way to spend the hour.


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The Impact of Learning Space on Instruction

By Sarah Avery, Community Advocate, Educator

Community and school libraries across the nation are transforming their mission from only providing textual forms of information to inspiring discovery through the use of collaborative makerspaces.  Companies, like Google and AOL utilize open office space designs to enhance creativity and innovation through a combination of relaxing, play, and work areas.

What do these different “organizations” have in common? Innovative and modern interior design.  Libraries and companies that have already embraced the transition from traditional work, learning, and educational environments to those of the future have also updated their interior design. From single desks or cubes to open floor spaces with round tables. From white walled rooms with poor indoor lighting to large, airy, brightly colored rooms with large windows. These new spaces contain a variety of seating choices with deliberately sectioned spaces for a multitude of purposes, efficiently transforming outdated working spaces into modern spaces designed to promote the skills needed for the 21st Century.

Developing a culture of innovation, a generation of creative individuals, a world in harmony through the advancement and efficiency of technology will propel our nation into the 21st Century. This dream for the future begins in our classrooms.

At Zulama, we promote the development and growth of 21st Century skills through our collaborative, blended learning environments facilitated by teachers and administrators.  Take a look below to see their learning spaces. What similarities can you see between their classrooms and the modern offices of Google and AOL? The Makerspaces designed by libraries?  How can we, across the nation, work to change the face of modern education without first changing the spaces close to our hearts?

When deciding to update classrooms, there are many companies to turn to for furniture and resources. However, how do we know the additions to our rooms will really help? Check out this infographic by Hertz Furniture on how classroom design affects student behavior.

When updating, also consider the color of your classroom.  When thinking of classrooms, we often think of rooms with white walls… but there are other options! For more information on color theory and the psychology of color, check out this infographic from Design 55.

Looking to include your students in the design process, but not sure where to start? Create a mini-unit on the history of interior design! Check out the video below from for some ideas:

Standing on Desks

By Sarah Avery, Zulama Community Advocate, Educator

Consider the scene in Dead Poets Society where Mr. Keating asks the students to stand on his desk.

“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way” (Dead Poets Society).”

Mr. Keating tells the students that he “stand[s] upon [his] desk to remind [him]self that we must constantly look at things in a different way” (Dead Poets Society). However, he is not just reminding his students; he is reminding all of us. He asks his students to look beyond the boundaries placed upon them and imagine the possibilities for their futures. As teachers, we ask the same things of our students.  We strive to inspire them and help them find their passions. But, what happens when our classrooms start to lose creative energy? It’s time for an update! “Stand” on your desk and imagine the possibilities for your classroom!

classroomdesign2Sometimes when we look at a classroom full of rows of desks it’s hard to imagine possibilities for the space. As a substitute, I visit many classrooms. The most enjoyable moments are when I work with students who are passionate about the content they’re learning. On one of these visits, I thought to myself, why can’t the students be passionate about their learning space as well? During a study hall, I posed a challenge to the students: “How would you change this room while still fitting 25 seats?” Students began drawing, writing, and researching ideas to make the room more inviting and engaging. They tossed around ideas of beanbags, high tables, and couches. One of their drawings can be seen here. Though it isn’t to scale, it reminds us that there are alternative possibilities… if we are open to them. How would you redesign your classroom?

Consider your bulletin boards.  How can you make them more engaging? Check out Valerie Barsevick’s Wall of Champions, and the “What Stuck with Your Today” board from How could they engage your students? How could you modify them to fit your classroom?

Aside from interactive bulletin boards, we can even use walls as learning  spaces. This 8th grade class at Liberty Middle School created an I Am Wall to discuss stereotypes and individuality while reading The Outsiders.  

If there isn’t enough space for student work or an extra bulletin board, but you are looking for something to cover the white space, check out this DIY project that walks you through an inexpensive, quick way to add color to your walls.

Wall of Champions


Things to consider when revamping your classroom:

  • Where will your teacher’s desk go? In some classrooms the teacher’s desk is a fixed piece of
    furniture; however, if your desk can be moved,  consider its the placement. How can we move the teacher’s desk to show collaboration and facilitation? Should we even have teacher desks?
  • How will we arrange student furniture? With so many seating options, it’s hard to know where to start. Check out these before and after images of this middle school classroom. In addition to looking brighter and more engaging, the updated room is able to utilize the whole class space by switching from bulky desks to streamlined tables. How could you utilize the whole classroom for learning?




  • Create a driving question. Just like the central questions for lessons, there needs to be a driving question for a classroom update. What message do you want your classroom to convey to your students? How will you know if your classroom redesign answers your driving question? Take a look at this creative classroom. What is the classroom design offering to students?
  • Courtesy of

    Courtesy of

    Involve the students. What better way to update your classroom than creating a student challenge based around interior design? Allow your students to research, write a proposal, and present their ideas while exploring the interior design and educational design industries. How would your students redesign your class space?

All of us are constantly thinking about how to more fully engage our students. So, think of Mr. Keating when you decide to revamp your learning space. What will you see when you stand on your desk?

Have you updated your learning space recently? Share stories, suggestions, and images below.




Haft, Steven, Peter Weir, Paul J. Witt, Tony Thomas, Tom Schulman, Robin Williams, Robert S. Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Maurice Jarre, Josh Charles, Dylan Kussman, Allelon Ruggiero, James Waterston, Alexandra Powers, Kurtwood Smith, Leon Pownall, and John Seale. Dead Poets Society. Burbank, Calif: Touchstone Home Entertainment, 2006.



Game supplies.

Today’s lunchtime game at Zulama was Spoons, a simple, fast-paced card game. You can read more about how to play here! We decided to play the long version of Spoons, similar to the basketball game, HORSE. When playing, each player starts with the full word SPOON. As players lose rounds, they lose letters until none are left. We decided to end our game once the first player was out. Each round took less than 2 minutes with the whole game taking less than 10 minutes. During that time we were able to play 7 rounds before our first player was out.

Playing Spoons.

Playing Spoons.

We decided that 4 players is the lowest number possible for an exciting game. It is ideal to have more players because it increases the speed and strategy involved. When we were playing, we had to keep our manners in mind. It was easy to get caught up in the competitive nature of this game and become a little too eager when scrambling for a spoon.

As this game is just a fun, simple card game, it is ideal for icebreakers. The rules are easy to learn and the gameplay is hilarious and exciting. The pieces are easily accessible and can be modified as needed. When reviewing the game, we talked about other card games from years past that we enjoy, like Spit, Egyptian Ratscrew, and Pit. Overall, a very fun, simple game that’s great for passing time!

You can see our scores and more information about the game below!

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Interview with a Teenager

Interview with a Teenager:

Tips for Communicating with Students about Game Violence

IMG_7964By Sarah Avery, Zulama Community Advocate, Educator

Last week I sat down with my sister to talk about video games in education. During our discussion the topic of violence in videogames came up. As a teenager who is often exposed to media of all sorts, including violent media, she had some advice for parents and teachers who struggle with teenage consumption of media.

  1. Open a channel of communication with your student.  In order to do this, parents and teachers must be open to students’ opinions and respectful towards what they have to say.  By inviting them into a supportive environment, you as the parent or teacher will have more room to discuss what the student wants to share with you.  #Communicate
  2. Ask the student how they feel they are doing in the virtual world.  The easiest way to start a discussion is to ask specific questions about the games, shows, or movies they watch.  It’s not enough to ask general questions.  We all know the “how was school today” question can get limited responses, but asking about a specific teacher or favorite class can get discussions going.  Try asking about the most recent level they beat, goal they accomplished, or challenge where they are struggling. #ShowInterest
  3. Be educated about popular games.  It’s important for parents and teachers to know more about a game than just a title.  You must know the context and goal of the game. Two games that have the same goal may have drastically different game play, one game might only be jumping over mushrooms and another might have guns.  Just be educated about different games your student wants to play.  #EducateYourself
  4. Setting expectations is good. Each student needs to learn that there are things expected of them and in order to earn and deserve respect from the outside world, they need to respect themselves. To do this they need to understand that accepting responsibilities for their actions is always best.  So, teachers and parents need to make their expectations known and realistic.  Your student will mess up, but positive reinforcement is best.  #RespectYourself

These are her closing thoughts: “The use of the Internet can be a great benefit and comes with the power of knowledge, “but with great power comes great responsibility” #Spiderman #UncleBen.”