Open Source Template Tuesday Muliplied!

It’s Open Source Template Tuesday! Watch the amazing Math Master kick the year off with a bang!


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.



The Original Resource:
Gamified Syllabus

Today’s Guest Blogger:

Brian Sworsky (@MrSworsky), a middle school math teacher based in Minnesota.

Here’s the Story…

This whole journey started with a conversation I had towards the end of the last school year. I’d been adding game elements and minor gamified pieces to my classroom and found success for my students and how this type of classroom really fit my style (this is the time to admit I am a huge puzzle and board game nerd/enthusiast!). In a random moment, a colleague knew I was adding these to my classroom and was looking for resources and said, ‘You have to check out this Meehan guy on twitter! He’s doing really interesting things that I think you’d like.’ 

Interesting is an understatement! The next day I was looking through his website, blog, videos, and twitter feed with a flood of ideas. I was finding inspiration in new places I never realized I could! Now when I see an interesting reality show, play a board game, think of the races I’ve run, or just reflect on something that was ‘fun’, I really look at them through the lens of ‘why were these enjoyable or fun’ and how can I bring that into my classroom.

A big point of frustration for me has been trying to workout is the first few days of school. The nervous excitement of a new school year from new incoming students always seems to get replaced with boredom and glossed over eyes from the repetitive lecturing about class rules and syllabus overviews. BORING! In my mind this is my chance to bring the students into the world of math with enthusiasm, fun, collaboration, and excitement! All of the things that let them know that this is NOT your stereotypical math class. Once I saw John’s gamified syllabus, I felt I had the template to bring that world of math to my students.  And so, the Math Master Syllabus was born.


I really like the thought of getting the students more naturally involved in collaboration, discussion, team work, and reflection since these are all catalysts for a higher understanding in the content they are exploring. This wraps all of those pieces up into one engaging package! 

The most helpful thing that I see from this is the way I’m able to get to know my students both academically and personally. Having this snapshot lets me start shaping and structuring our activities, discussions, games, group work, and assessments in a way that will cultivate growth mindsets. The name of the game is knowledge production NOT consumption!  Game stations like:


Super Powers: This is a way for me to see the type of learner they feel that they are and are not. Knowing this early helps me with the types of future activities will best suit my class and/or the type of choices I need to include when I create my choice based assessments.

image6Origin Story and Tool Box: It’s all about them in these stations! I wanna know hobbies, likes, how and where do they see themselves, and how they self-identify in their math abilities (this is the area I’ll be most interested in!).


Spell Book: With this station, groups have their first real chance to share ideas and work together as a collaborative group to produce something they’ll present as ‘their work’. I feel like I’ll be walking past this station A LOT to see how the groups are choosing to interact.


The station that I saw from the original gamified syllabus that initially caught my eye was the Padlet selfie. I called the station Superhero! It removes the traditional ‘stand-up and introduce your neighbor’ model and I think gives a bit more comfort while still being able to share yourself with the class! I’m still trying to think of ways to try and use their pictures throughout the year (possibly some kind of easter egg opportunity!) so we’ll see where that leads. This also gets students set up so we can use padlet in the future. Two birds….one stone!


I found a big time saver this syllabus took care of nicely was taking care of things like signing students up for certain websites and taking care of introductory explorations of content. Meet the Cyborg and Puzzle Master stations. This remedies the need for me to take separate class time to do these tasks (again, BORING!) and puts a gamified bow on them. Khan and Edpuzzle are going to be a larger chunk for my class since they’ll be the backbone of my flipped lessons for now. Same situation with KenKen and Sudoku puzzles. They’ll be the foundation to helping the students understand the more advanced puzzles they’ll be doing throughout the year. I think of this as giving the students a chance to wade in the shallow end of the math puzzle pool before they make the dive into the deep end. image5

Last but not least is the Boss Battle station. Student groups spend time with the teacher and simply have a conversation. Full transparency, this one makes me the most nervous/excited. I am going to make sure I have a few prompts to keep the conversation going. I didn’t put a time limit on it but these will be between 3-5 minutes long.

I’m excited to kick the year off like this! It’ll be something fun and different for the students and will be the start of a great game infused year!

Here’s a copy of my version of John’s game along with a couple of others that have been inspired by what John has created. 

Hi all. John again! Brian has clearly put in A. TON. of creative effort in bringing these activities to life in his classroom! If you’re not yet following this guy on Twitter, DO IT — he’s on fire with all sorts of ideas for math classes. And his templates are super easy to adapt to any course or content area! Way to go, my friend. Thank you so much for sharing some of your incredible energy with teachers all around the world.

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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