Golden Egg

Will your team be the first to unlock the golden egg?

One of many interesting questions you may overhear from our health classroom. Teaching skills based health  has many opportunities for collaboration and communication. Connecting students to functional knowledge, content and skills remains a challenge during this unique time. At the moment my 7th grade health class is fully remote. The struggle has been on how I can translate in class activities to students virtually. How can we engage our students that are learning in many different environments? Novelty, an underrated but helpful tool for all current teaching situations.

Science of Novelty

Working in education has its perks. One of the things I look forward to most is how I can improve a learning experience to make it click with all learners. We have the ability for a “do over”. However,  working as a health educator means you have a short amount of time to meet students where they are at and make the learning experience and skills “stick”.  

“Novel contexts can help engage students initially with a new topic, or help encourage them to apply and practice their freshly learnt knowledge in new scenarios, which is important for consolidating their understanding, memory and transfer of that knowledge. Topics that engage curiosity have been shown to stimulate activities in the brain’s reward regions” (Min Jeong et al., 2009).

As educators we are always looking to connect, build relationships and provide learning experiences for students that matter. If the task of educating wasn’t challenging enough, welcome to 2020! In the midst of a pandemic, teaching and learning looks and feels differently. How do we translate the magic that happens during in person learning to a virtual setting? How do we keep students engaged, motivated and perform? These are questions I continue to ask myself on a daily basis. But there has been one constant in my planning. Novelty. If we want students engaged, motivated, learning, applying and remembering in 2020 with so many distractions, and a lack of in person connections, maybe adding Novelty is the golden egg opportunity.

Ways to promote Golden Egg Moments

According to Dr. David Sousa, a consultant in educational neuroscience, The use of novelty doesn’t mean you need to be an entertainer. He suggested the following ideas:

  • Humor-The use of humor by telling a joke, story or laughing with students can increase learning, motivation and divergent thinking (Appleby 2018). 
  • Movement-In person and virtual settings might look different but the idea is the same. Students are meant to move. If we sit for more than 20 minutes blood pools in away from our brain. By getting up and moving (however that might look teaching in a pandemic) there is a 15% increase in blood flow to our brains (Sousa year). Bottom line, brain breaks and opportunities to get up and rehearse learning is even more important in a virtual setting. Check out this presentation I did on brain breaks for our district PD day.
  • Multi-Sensory Instruction-The use of scavenger hunts that relate to the content or other activities that students are able to move, see and do will be beneficial to learning. In our health class we have used scavenger hunts for students to identify items in the homes that relate back to the content or skill. Providing breakout rooms for students to practice skills with other students or record a role play. Incorporating a technology feature like peardeck which allows students to reply, draw/write and learn material in a variety of ways. 
  • Quiz games-Student created quiz games, activities and skill practice can help them understand the content by rehearsing and practicing. This is a common strategy in elementary settings and is sometimes overlooked at the secondary level.
  • Music-The studies are inconclusive on how this relates to learning but can benefit movement breaks, an introduction to a topic or discussion. 

Get inspired. 

We all use some type of novelty in our lessons along with many other teaching tools. However, after learning from a colleague (shout out to John Dalgety) that there are two books I should know about. Play Like a Pirate by Quinn Rollins and Edrenaline Rush by John Meehan. Both authors speak to creating excitement around the learning process and provide ideas to get you moving in the right direction. 

Grow your PLN. 

I know I’m not the first person to state that growing your professional learning network has great benefits. I wouldn’t be writing about this idea without connecting with Andrew Milne on twitter @carmelhealth (thanks for the ask and stretching my comfort zone). Many ideas I’ve shared and reworked have come from those who share. I’d like to mention the following professionals for their inspiration. I also strongly encourage you to follow them on social media and there you will find even more outstanding professionals to connect with.

Thank you to  Emily Zien @Ms_Zien, Lea Hanke @lea_hanke, Scott Todnem @scottampersand, Kimberly Ohara-Borowski @oharakimiko, Heather Giovenco @msgiohealth, Jessica Matheson @coachmatheson, Charlie Rizzuto @rizzutoEd, Melanie Lynch @melanielynch52, John Dalgety @jdalgety22, John Meehan @MeehanEDU, Sarah Chap @healthteachvt, @ditchthattxtbk, Quinn Rollins @jedikermit, Drew Miller @Millerhealthed

Ask yourself the following question.

 “Would I be excited to go to my class?”

Being educators we use novelty regularly. Here are some ways I’ve used it in past health lessons and ideas that I have collected from my twitter professional learning network.

  • Mindset Breakout room with a secret code to unlock a vacant locker
  • Accessing Community Health Resources Scavenger Hunt with QR codes 
  • Secret messages revealed using black light Ink pens and Puzzles Pieces or just paper
  • Plastic eggs and clothespins for a great review strategy 
  • Locks for bags or ziplock pouches to reveal a prize or a clue to the next portion of a skill or task
  • Board games turned into a Mission “Save Henry!”
  • Use of Physical Space-Stairs to teach steps, cones in the hallways to walk through a step process, scene for a role play or public service announcement. 
  • Props, Dressing up, changing/decorating the room, Using music to start a discussion
  • Earn the gaudy trophy, medal or leaderboard challenge

But, how do I translate our in class experience to my unique situation?

Does it even make sense to try to translate? The answer is YES. My 7th grade health students have been remote since last March.  Here are some strategies I’ve utilized to enhance the remote learning experience.

End game

Teaching remotely leaves me feeling disconnected from my students sometimes. Teaching and learning are both rooted in relationships. Relationships keep learners involved, engaged and practicing health enhancing behaviors. I’ve found using novelty as a tool in person and remote to foster student relationships,connections and engagement.  Without these things we really don’t have a chance at teaching and practicing health skills. I look forward to learning, trying and sharing more “golden egg” opportunities with all of you. I invite you to follow me on twitter and instagram @iteachhealthed so we can connect, share and collaborate. 

In a place where everything seems so uncertain, one thing I do know for sure is that each and every one of you is working extra hard to meet students where they are at. Tell the joke, wear the crazy get up, play the minute to win it games, focus on engagement to know your students. Everything else will fall into place. That is all we can ask of ourselves at this time. It should be the only thing that matters in education at this time. Relationships, connections and engagement matter. Stay Safe and Be well.


Appleby, PHD, D. (2018, March 23). Using humor in the college classroom: The pros and the cons. Psych Learning Curve.

Adams, C. (2013, November 17). Teachers Urged to Mix it Up and Use Novelty to Engage Students. Education Week – College Bound.

FutureLearn. (2020, August 13). Novelty.

J. Schomaker, M. Meeter, Short- and long-lasting consequences of novelty, deviance and surprise on brain and cognition,Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 55, 2015.

Kang, M. J., Hsu, M., Krajbich, I. M., Loewenstein, G., McClure, S. M., Wang, J. T. Y., & Camerer, C. F. (2009). The wick in the candle of learning: Epistemic curiosity activates reward circuitry and enhances memory. Psychological Science, 20(8), 963-973.

Kaye, C. (2018, March 9). Surprise! How Novelty Can Help Students Learn.Https://Www.Prwithpanache.Com/Client-News/Surprise-How-Novelty-Can-Help-Students-Learn.

(2018, August 21). 5 Ways to Keep Novelty in the Classroom. Teaching in the Fast Lane.

Laurent, C. (2019, February 19). Change Things Up With Novelty Learning – Education Week. Ed Week.

Meehan, E. (n.d.). Home. EDrenaline Rush. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from

Novelty aids learning. (2018, November 15). UCL News.

Rollins, Q. (2020, November 19). Hands-on Ideas for Teaching Your Own Kids at Home. Quinn Rollins: Play Like a Pirate.

Sousa, D. (2011, November 1). Using Novelty in Lessons. How the Brain Learns: The Blog.

I want to thank Anna for sharing her awesomeness. I have wanted to create something like her breakout room idea but have never really had the confidence to put something together. Her blog post has inspired me to attempt something like this next semester. Make sure you follow Anna on Twitter, and all of the other educators mentioned in the post!

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