Arr You Ready for Open Source Template Tuesday?

Yo ho ho! It’s Open Source Template Tuesday! Arrr you ready?


Hi! If you’re new to the blog, welcome! I’m John. And I’m the author of EDrenaline Rush: Game-Changing Student Engagement Inspired by Theme Parks, Mud Runs, and Escape Rooms, a new book from Dave Burgess Consulting. I am RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED to share it with the world! And I truly believe that enthusiasm is infectious — so I love sharing lesson plans, classroom activity walkthroughs, and open source slideshow templates on this site whenever I get the chance.

Because great pedagogy isn’t relegated to any particular subject area. And we don’t teach content. We teach people.

I have a bunch of templates available on this site, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to adapt them to suit the unique needs of your classroom! Regardless of age, content area, or skill level — it is my sincere belief that, in the hands of a great teacher (that’s YOU!), a creative teaching tool or technique can be a total game-changer for any classroom.

So here’s where you come in!

Each week here on the blog, we celebrate OPEN SOURCE TEMPLATE TUESDAY in an effort to help readers get a clearer sense of how adapting shared templates from this site can be super helpful in saving teachers time, effort, and frustration.

Here’s how it works:

    1. For each OPEN SOURCE TEMPLATE TUESDAY, I’ll feature a guest blog from a fellow teacher who’s adapted one of the resources available on this site and used it to change the game in their classroom! I’ll also post an original copy of the template that inspired their lesson so you can see its life cycle in action.
    2. We’ll also feature a guest blog entry from the teacher who adapted each template in their classroom. This is their chance to talk about the tweaks, adjustments, and modifications that they decided to make to the original resource in order to help it be a neater fit in their classroom. It might also help inspire you to take their template (or the original) for a spin in your school! Click any of the links below or check out their Twitter handle to connect further!
    3. In the spirit of OPEN SOURCE TEMPLATES, everything that you’ll see in one of these guest blogs is designed to be shared, customized, and adapted for use in your classroom! Steel sharpens steel, right? And by paying it forward to fellow educators around the globe, the rising tide of #EDrenaline can truly lift all ships — inspiring untold ripple effects of teacher creativity and student engagement around the globe.

Justin Owens changes the game for middle school math students!

The Original Resource:
#QRBreakIN and the Gamified Course Syllabus

Today’s Guest Blogger:

Justin Owens (@MrOwens_Math), middle school math teacher

Here’s the Story…

My name is Justin Owens (@MrOwens_Math), I’m a middle school math teacher, 7th grade math most of the time, though I have taught 6th grade as well. I’m prepping for my 6th year as a teacher. Teaching was not my first career choice but when I left my old job to go back to school for my teaching license I knew I had to go all in and embrace it. Part of my motivation was remembering how middle school seemed to me when I was that age, and the difficult time I had adjusting to the changes that middle school presents students, let alone the academic expectations that adjust transferring from elementary to middle school.


My goal was to emulate those traits of the teachers I loved, while pushing the boundaries of what was considered normal in the classroom. This was long before I knew of edu-heroes like Ron Clark, Todd Nesloney, or Dave Burgess. I started by creating my own interactive videos for class, where I would interact with myself on the video screen inorder to teach a lesson. At the end of my first year I discovered “Teach Like a Pirate” and my world was set on fire! I started creating interactive investigations, what would later be named “Hyperdocs” and Escape Rooms in the classroom. My favorite thing is to grab a theme that allows me and or the students to dress up for the event. Yes, middle schoolers get a kick out of a teacher that goes all in and dresses up. At first they might act a little too good for such silliness, but it really brings out a lot of joy in the learning process.

image5This brings me to John Meehan’s work! Last year when I discovered John’s work I thought I was going crazy that he was freely offering his templates to other teachers to use or adapt to their own needs. He was doing the very type of work I was doing only he was doing it better and more frequently because he already had these templates created and would build off the previous work. Now he was offering the same to me. He was speaking my language and teaching me how to speak more clearly through my lesson activities. So I did what any teacher does, I started using some of John’s templates and reworking them for my own needs.



Pirates Life: Assessment:
Last year I was at a new school for the first time, and I wasn’t really sure how my PLC would respond to my request not to give a standard multiple choice test, and instead put on a wild game show, with about 8 stations all while dressed as pirates. Oddly enough, they were interested, so I quickly pulled up one of John’s templates of a QR break in that was already designed as a pirate adventure for numerous stations. This was a great starting point, it was almost as if the hardest part had been done. It was all laid out for us all we had to do was adapt the individual activities to match our math needs. We didn’t have to worry about redesigning everything because it was already set up as a pirate theme.

The first thing I changed was I added the ability to have more smaller groups play the “game” at one given time. The original was set for 4 teams. We however were combining our classes into one large session in our media center. The great thing about these templates is that all you need to do is make a copy of your own and then edit, copy, and adapt things as you need. I had to shrink some of the sizes so I could get 10 groups instead of 4, and I had to maneuver some of the text around to suit our needs. That probably took me 25 minutes to get it the way I wanted it. I also changed the timer, I believe the original timer was 30 minutes and I changed ours to 45 minutes. THAT’S IT!
Now we had a game board that would host all our teams.The activity cards only require that you update the instructions on them to match the activities, questions, or challenges that you set before your students. If you don’t plan to create your own theme, than your only need to change the details and not worry about theme. We added costumes and theme music to heighten the experience. You can see from the images that it was a blast for all involved.

image6Deeper Adaptations:

If you’re interested in incorporating your own theme that matches your classroom, content or school, guess what? That’s easy enough, in fact when I’m only planning to use the structure of a template, theme is the first thing I think about. It gives me an easy in point to start adapting without getting overwhelmed. It also allows you to feel as if you are accomplishing a great deal while allowing you to think about how you are going to adapt the rest of activities to meet your needs. (Or maybe that’s just fun to me? ) For example, my classroom is painted to look like you are inside an actual level on a Super Mario Bros. game. So, many of my templates are focused around games, video games, board games. In preparing for the upcoming school year, I adapted one of John’s QR Breakins to mimic gameplay of the popular Nintendo game, Super Smash Bros. I started by going through each slide and removing the background images and replacing them with images I had found from the various versions of the Smash Bros games that have been developed over the years.

Next I took the names of the activities and I changed them to represent events, attitudes and tokens from the actual game. So what was a barrell in John’s version was now a “SMASH ATTACK” or a “FINISHING BLOW!” Step three was changing icons, the icons already there match fine if your not planning to change them, but I like details, so I visit the noun project, where you can find almost any type of icon. When all the visuals are complete its time to start changing the actual task to represent your content and goals for the activity. This can be introducing content, introducing expectations,or assessing content at the end of unit. It’s really there for whatever reason or need you may have to use it in your classroom with any content.


It’s also as simple or complicated as you want it to become as well. Don’t need to change much? Then don’t, you can use most of it as is just add your content. Want to be elaborate? There’s space and room for that as well. Students love these activities, joy and positive emotions lend themselves to a healthy dose of learning to take place in the brain. It beats a boring lecture or PowerPoint any given day of the week. How we you change up your classroom? Go on! Give it a Try!

Hi! John again. THIS. IS. AMAZING. And I’m so inspired by Justin’s creativity and depth of immersion that I wanted to throw in a bonus activity for anyone who’s digging his Mario-inspired approach to classroom theme and decor! I call these suckers Mischief Cards, and they’re a great addition to any #QRBreakIN activity or just about any team-vs.-team style “game” that you can think to use in your classroom. I’ve even been known to use them for teacher training events, and believe it or not, the “big kids” can’t get enough! Link to the full resource is here.


Thanks for reading this week’s guest blog!

Author: John

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project, after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader, and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. He is a past presenter and regular attendee at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower19, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports summer conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races. John lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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