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Brain in the Game


Students access content by getting their Brain in the Game (knowing how to start) as they analyze a complex assessment question.


  • Assessment question
  • Brain in the Game handout (printed or projected)
  • Brain in the Game template (English/Spanish)
  • Notebook paper (if handout is projected)


  1. Pair students with a partner.
  2. Project the assessment question.
  3. Students get their Brain in the Game as they work through a complex assessment question with their partners:
    • Analyze the question’s visual stimulus (chart, table, picture, word problem, genre, etc.) by completing this statement 6-8 times, “If this visual (genre) could talk, it would tell me ____________.”
    • Identify 3-5 important vocabulary terms in the question and describe them to each other.
    • Predict what the assessment question might be about by summarizing the “big idea.”
  4. Using a movement and discourse strategy such as Musical Mix-Freeze-Group, have pairs compare, discuss, and justify their responses.
  5. Observe students’ thinking and clarify/verify as appropriate.
  6. Students answer the assessment question, justify responses, summarize what they learned, and note how to avoid mistakes in the future.

Classroom Management

  • Model the tasks with a simple, fun question before using academic content.
  • Ensure each student has partner.


  • Promote access by allowing students to process questions with a supportive peer/adult.
  • Provide response support by providing sentence stems to frame responses, allowing text-to-speech support as needed, and/or allowing for speech-to-text or word prediction support if using a digital version of the Brain in the Game template.

Think It Up!

  • Have students think more deeply about the concept by responding to a Think It Up prompt as an exit ticket or journal entry:
    • Compare the stimuli (visuals) in 2 questions. How are they the same? How are they different?
    • Justify that there are different ways to start answering assessment questions.
  • Encourage students to use lead4ward’s Thinking Stems (English/Spanish) to frame their responses, if needed.