A few years ago I downloaded a classroom resource application called Triptico. It had a great graphics look and some nice and easy tools to use in my classroom. Recently Triptico launched a web-based application where you can save your activities to the cloud for easy use anywhere. It’s great!
There are tools in Triptico that any teacher can benefit from—regardless of content area or age group. All of the resources are dynamic and visually appealing to your students. So besides being useful, they are fun to look at.
Below are some of my favorite uses of Triptico:
Student Groups I created a class list for each of my classes. On days when we do group activities, I bring up the Triptico Group Maker resource, load that class list and remove any students that are absent. Then I tell Triptico how many groups I want and it will randomly generate them for me. The kids love watching the colors pop up and waiting in anticipation to see who is going to be with them. And it’s very easy for me to use.
Timers There are a lot of online timers and stopwatches out there. These timers are dynamic and visual. I like the hourglass timer because it doesn’t show students the exact amount of time they have left (or that you set the timer for) so instead of being focused and worried about seconds, they can just get a visual snapshot of time remaining.
Selected Spinner I’ve only used this one recently but it has been fun! I put in a list of questions and answers. Then when I’m ready to run the activity for a class, I put in the names of the students. With the click of the button, Triptico will randomly choose a question and then randomly choose a student to answer it. It’s fun to watch, totally random and the kids were glued to the board. A great way to do a simple review for any test or quiz.
A question is chosen and randomly assigned to a student. The spinning wheel hypnotizes students.
Flip Selector will randomly select students with the flick of a mouse. Keep flicking to keep choosing different students.
Hourglass Timer gives students a non-numerical visual representation of time.
Word Magnets let you slide blocks of text around a screen.
Top Ten is a game where there is a central question or challenge to find the TEN items related to that theme.
Random spinner with questions and students
Group Creator takes a class list and randomly assigns them a color, creating groups
Sometimes obscure websites have the greatest hidden treasures. A few months ago, I came across a grammar activity website that included directions for a Grammar Auction classroom activity. I thought it sounded promising and decided to try it out this week.
Setup: I prepared 20 sentences, some written with grammar errors and others that were written perfectly. I made a PowerPoint to help me keep track of the sentences, each one given a random, non-sequential “lot number”. When students came into class, I randomly separated them into groups of 3 or 4.
Activity Introduction: Groups were given $5000 of fake money as their auction budget. For each sentence up for bid, or for each “lot”, I would read a Spanish sentence. After repeating the sentence, we started the bidding at $50.
Final Objective/Winner: Students wanted to spend their money on quality items, not defective items (the poorly written sentences). At the end of the auction, the winning group would be the group that bought the most correct sentences. If there would be a tie between groups, the winner was the one that spend the least amount of money.
Students didn’t know how many sentences were available and never knew when the auction was going to end, therefore they couldn’t just sit on their money and do nothing. Today I had a homework assignment for students at the end and as a reward for the winning group, I gave them a automatic pass on that assignment. It was definitely a motivating factor.
Probably one of the greatest activities I have ever done.
My Spanish 2 students had been working on their proofreading skills so this was a perfect time to introduce the auction. I had wondered if reading the sentences to them was too difficult and thought about showing them the written sentences, but decided that might be too easy. They did a GREAT job with the learning outcomes. They listened carefully and discriminately, they discussed with their group members, reasoning with each other to determine whether or not it would be a good buy.
Gamesmanship was a huge part of this and I think that made the students like it even more. It wasn’t just about buying a good sentence and not a bad sentence – – it was about watching your money, budgeting, trying to run up bids on other teams, trying to bait other teams into buying bad sentences, etc. There were a lot of undercurrent things happening in the class but the activity still revolved around knowing our Spanish grammar. It was kind of like a game stacked on top of a game. I love this for a couple of reasons. 1) I feel like my students that easily understand things get bored with repeated practice activities and games, and the added layers involved in the Grammar Auction allowed them to experience something else in addition to bottom-line learning outcomes. 2) Students that struggle often feel left out or overwhelmed with straight-up practice activities and are sometimes instantly turned off and disinterested in activities they perceive they will not be successful in. The added layers serve as hooks or tributaries that help pull these students into the core of the activity. I saw students that started out just as the money counter or the bidder, but as the activity progressed, they became fully involved without really having to try. It’s a trick on them, treat for me.
I was hugely pleased with the processing and application of learning concepts that I witnessed and thought this was a valuable experience for my students. I feel very good about our upcoming Grammar Test on Friday. But the students are the real judges. They seemed very engaged and excited, but asked anyway: Was this activity something we should try to do again? The answer was a loud “YES!”. Honestly, it was the most enthusiastic YES I’ve ever gotten.
The only downside to the grammar auction is that I budgeted for each group to have $5000 and printed only $50 bills. So I had to count 100 $50 bills. For each group. For three different class periods. Ouch.
My students are great at knowing all the separate pieces and rules of the language on their own but stumble when it comes to putting them together for the purpose of writing for communication. Something that always has been a challenge for me is to get my students to edit and proofread their work. When I give them writing corrections, I feel that the feedback is oftentimes ignored and no learning takes place. Recently my students have been doing a proofreading activity that has provided many teachable moments and I am now seeing positive results.
Pre-lesson preparation: My Spanish 2 students have been learning about house vocabulary. While we practiced vocabulary and descriptions in class, I posted a prompt on Edmodo for the students to write about. They had to go to Edmodo (an online collaboration website for our class) and type just one sentence describing their house. After they had typed their sentences, I printed them all off on to a piece of paper and we worked with the sentences in class.
Entrance Ticket: When my students walked into class, each student took a piece of paper and had to brainstorm at least 5 characteristics of a good sentence. I told them to think about what a Spanish teacher would look for in a perfectly written sentence and also what a 3rd grade teacher would look for in a perfect sentence. They had approximately 2 minutes for this brainstorming.
Class Sharing and List Making: As a class, we took the characteristics each student generated to create a class list of qualities that a sentence needs to have. My students were very attuned to the characteristics of quality sentences. Every class identified punctuation, capital letters and proper spelling. Most were able to speak about specific Spanish skills, such as proper word order, adjective agreement, gender agreement and correct conjugation. This class sharing portion of the class was also interesting because many students wrote down good grammar as a characteristic of well written sentences but they couldn’t elaborate on what good grammar was. They have been told over and over again that they need to have good grammar but couldn’t identify what good grammar meant. Many teachable language moments came out of this class discussion.
Finding Perfect Sentences: After generating a class list of sentence qualities, each student received a copy of the sentences they had typed in Edmodo about their house. I told the students how many of the sentences on the paper were perfect sentences, or sentences that had all of the qualities listed on the board. They worked alone to try and read each of the sentences to find the sentences with no errors. Since the paper I printed had each student’s name next to their sentence, there was a lot of personal responsibility for the sentences. Most students focused on their sentence first to see if it was good or not. Then I noticed that they zeroed in on the sentences of students they perceived as being smart and good at writing. Once they had some worktime, we came back together as a class and identified all of the perfect sentences.
Levels of Errors: After the perfect sentences were taken care of, we focused on editing the remaining sentences so that they could become perfect. I talked to them about the importance of the type of errors in these sentences. For most of my high school students, minus 1 is the same as minus 25; if it’s not perfect, it is no good. I drew a chart on the board of the 5 levels of sentences that I use when evaluating writing progress.
Peer Editing: I individually called on students to find the errors in the remaining sentences. Most were able to recognize something wrong. Sometimes I would give prompts, such as “This is a Level 4 sentence, so we’re looking for a small stuff”, or “Remember to check all of the qualities listed on the board to make sure that everything works”. I found that the students were very good about finding the errors. And they also enjoyed the labeling of the sentences in Levels. While the activity progressed, I heard students debating whether or not a sentence was a Level 4 or a Level 3. One said, “You just have to add a word here to make it correct, so it’s not that big of a deal. It’s only a Level 4”. The other countered with “But Level 4 sentences are so good that you just have to change the parts that are already there. Forgetting a word is a bigger deal and it should be a Level 3”. I did notice, however, that some students didn’t like that their sentence was being called out as a Level 3, or the lowest level in this particular activity. While I know that those individual students didn’t like that part of it, I know that they seriously will learn from that mistake they made. I also made sure that we spoke only about this one sentence written about that individual and not the individual in general. Since each student was included in the activity, I felt that they were very respectful towards each other in that regard.
Post Formative Assessment: Some days later I would give a short slip of paper to each student at the beginning or end of class. I would show them pictures of a house on the projection screen and ask them to write one sentence about that house, remembering the qualities of a proper sentence. Almost no student made the same mistake on this sentence as he or she did previously. The total number of correct sentences improved greatly and the students that did make errors made very small errors (Level 4 errors). I was pleased with the outcome of this activity and will make it a routine writing and proofreading exercise in my lesson plans.
I few months ago I came across an application called Storybird (thanks to my favorite blog Box of Tricks). I knew that it was an online application that allowed users to make beautiful, children’s style short books. While I thought that it was an amazing program, I was stuck knowing that I couldn’t use in Spanish, as the books can only be published in English.
But then Storybird had a reinvention. Storybird now allows teachers to create classes and setup accounts for all of their students. These students can create and publish storybooks under this classroom umbrella. And since the teacher controls that classroom umbrella, they can be in any language. My Spanish students can now start writing short children’s stories in Spanish!
Here is the low-down on Storybird:
Choose from a sampling of internet artist storybook art to begin creating your book
Type in your text and arrange the photo/art however you wish
Google Docs is a program provided by Google that I have used in the past as a nice filing cabinet for documents. I used to always lose my thumb drive and I have learned to love uploading files to Google Docs.
Recently I stumbled across the Form feature in Google Docs, where you can produce a form and save it online. I had never thought about using a form as a quiz template but it appears as if this will be a great tool.
Using this feature, you can create questions in which a student has to input their individual answers (multiple formats, such as fill in the blank and multiple choice). Once the students have finished filling in the form/quiz and click “submit”, Google Docs transfers all of the information to a spreadsheet (on Google Docs) for you. Although this application does not correct any of the answers, it is a pretty handy, online way of having students answer questions and submitting them online. Be sure to include a mandatory question where the students have to type their name so that you know who did what 🙂