Reflexive Verb Image Formulas


Following the success of my Direct Object Pronoun Goal Game, I knew I wanted to create similar activities for my classroom. I created an image formula presentation to help my students conjugate their reflexive verbs about the daily routine.

I began by finding available clipart for the reflexive verb vocabulary that my students were studying (cepillarse, ducharse, afeitarse, acostarse, dormirse, pintarse, bañarse, secarse, levantarse, maquillarse, peinarse and quitarse). Then I choose the images that would represent the Yo, Tú, Él, Nosotros and Ellos forms. I created the formulaic layouts in PowerPoint and I had 65 editable image formulas for our reflexive verbs.

I personalized the “nosotros” slide by making it a picture of our Denver High School student body. The students immediately recognized it as “us”. Because I think he’s dreamy, I used Enrique Iglesias to represent the “Él” form, but when I implement this in class, I replace him with a student, teacher or some other figure that has meaning to the kids (last year it was an assistant football coach). The students love personal touches because it makes the content more meaningful to them.

After the presentation is created, I choose to do a large group conjugation game called the Goal Game. First, I save the presentation as images and create a slideshow the 1) randomizes the images and 2) has timed transitions. I usually set my transitions to 7 seconds.

The Goal Game works like this:

(You can see an example of the Goal Game in my post on Direct Object Pronouns)

—Setup: Put one chair in front of the screen that will project the reflexive verb image formulas. This will be the “Hot Seat”.

—Divide the students into 2 teams.

—Team 1 sends one student to the “Hot Seat”. This student must give the correct reflexive verb conjugation of the formula depicted in the image before the slide flips to a new picture. Students may answer multiple times as long as they give the correct answer before the slide changes.

—If the student cannot give the correct conjugation by the time the slide flips, their time in the “Hot Seat” is over and the next team sends up a representative.

—Each successful conjugation/slide is 1 point for the team. I limit students to 10 slides.

—Before the student begins, ask the student to set a goal of how many formulas they think they will be able to successfully conjugate. If they do not meet that goal, it’s ok! If they DO meet their goal, they score that many bonus points for their team.

 

Introducing Classcraft


We are approaching Spring Break and while it’s normally a time to kick back and relax, I always like to use it to start a new project. This year I was going to investigate Classcraft, a “free online, educational role-playing game that teachers and students play together in the classroom.” By accident, I ended up showing this to the students a week early— and they totally went for it.

Classcraft is an online world where the teacher enrolls students and gives them avatar identities like mages, warriors or healers, each with its own powers.  As the teacher, I can reinforce positive behavior by awarding XP, which students need to accumulate to get to the next level. I can also deduct Health Points for negative behaviors like missing an assignment or using their cell phone in class.  Students are motivated by different rewards in the game and have an incentive to move themselves forward in the game —promoting pro social behavior.

Next week I will do a full recap and explanation of how my Classcraft is setup for my Spanish 3 students. I’m only 3 days into this now and I can definitely say this is a game changer for my classroom. 

Here are a few thoughts after 3 days:

  • Students are also on teams so there is a collaborative element. As one student said today to his teammates “I know that doesn’t directly help you out but if you help your teammates, they end up making you stronger so it’s good for you in the long run to work together”
  • Incentives and motivation to do things like turn assignments in early, help other students and get 100% on a quiz 
  • Role playing game like feel is familiar to students and point totals are great visual representation of progress
  • Students can go as hard as they want (staying up to 2:00 AM in one case already—which is not recommended) or play leisurely or rarely. There are benefits to progressing but nothing that would penalize a student that doesn’t want to “game”
  • Something new, something fun, something to fill their downtime 
  • (Most importantly) I’ve crafted some quests to earn XP that require students to practice or drill their Spanish. That student I had that stayed up until 2:00? He said today “Seriously though those helped me so much. Like I feel like I actually learned so much Spanish by doing those quests”

Mic drop.

Check back next week for a full glimpse of Classcraft in the Spanish 3 world.

Kahoot!


Recently a tech colleague passed along a great free online resource to use for formative assessment and classroom activities.  I’ve done little quiz games or review games in the past using online resources like Socrative, but this one has a new twist.  The website is called Kahoot.

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Kahoot reminded my students a lot of the quiz games played in restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings.  A question is displayed on the front board and each student selects an answer to that question from their personal device.  (I’ve had students use computers, IPads, Kindles or phones for this activity).  If you get the question correct, you get points.  If you answer faster, you get more points.  After each question, the student sees their ranking on a leaderboard.  It’s a lot of fun and provides great motivation for the students.

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Teachers can create “Kahoots” from getkahoot.com.  It gives you the option of creating quizzes, discussions or surveys.  Right now I’m only using the quizzes.  The teacher creates multiple choice quizzes and has the option of adding in pictures and video in the questions too.  After a Kahoot is made, you are ready to share it with the students.

The students just go to kahoot.it.  From there they will type in a pin code that is assigned to the Kahoot the teacher is running.  The quiz is teacher paced, meaning that the questions only appear when the teacher is ready.  Once ready, the teacher shows the students the question on the board.  After 5 seconds, answer choices also appear on the board.  Each answer choice is color coded.  On the student’s individual device, they see the color coded choices but no words—they have to look up at the board for the question and the answer choices.  They select the color associated with the choice they think is correct.  Once all students have answered, they find out how many points they earned (if any) and what their ranking is in the leaderboard.  At the end of playing a Kahoot, the teacher can download the results, which gives you question by question analysis of how students did and you can easily see questions that were the most problematic.

We loved using Kahoot and now I’m just under pressure to create more Kahoots for us to do in class!

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Fun in Timbuktu


Timbuktu is a fun app for elementary students.  Think of it as a daily magazine for children, including reading stories that are graphically attractive and interactive.

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The content changes everyday.  Some features are premium and would cost something.  Timbuktu is 100% geared to be an interactive magazine for children so the features are all kid friendly and exciting.  There is a regular feature called “Ask Auntie Rita”, where children write “Dear Abby” type questions and get advice from kind Aunt Rita.  It’s interesting, relevant reading and hits on topics like getting along with an older brother, what to do about bullies, and how to get better grades in schools.  The reading features in Timbuktu are awesome.  The day I played with the app, there was a horror story to read.  But, instead of just reading it like a normal, students have to use their finger as a flashlight to read the story.  It’s reading and it’s interactive.  It’s fun!

You can also go back and access older content in Timbuktu.  They recently had a three part feature on Romeo and Juliet.  Students had to read about the story (in nice kid-language) and also got to interact with the story.  I put a mask on Romeo so he could go to the Capulet ball.  I helped Romeo find Juliet’s balcony.  It’s reading and it’s interactive.  It’s fun!

Timbuktu also has some activities and interactive features with pictures and videos.  They are all kid relevant and are created with education in mind.  Each activity is designed to pique the imaginations and creativity of young minds.  It’s interactive.  And it’s fun!

I really enjoyed my little tour through Timbuktu and think it would be a great addition to the Daily 5, center work or free time with the IPads.

 

 

Temple Run as a Teaching Tool


IPads and games go together better than almost anything.  And kids love it.  Teachers can harness that love and excitement by finding ways to use these games as teaching tools.  Almost any game that has scores, numbers and levels can be made into a math activity with a little bit of creativity.  I’ve seen examples of this using Angry Birds to study and practice vectors and velocity but I think something simple like Temple Run can be integrated into an elementary classroom with ease.

temple-run-trees-hurt-death-photo Each user or player runs through a course, picking up coins and attempting to travel as many meters as possible.  After each pass through the course (which could last a few seconds or a few minutes depending on the skill of the player), an end screen is shown with a list of statistics.  Anytime statistics and numbers are displayed, it makes for a great educational opportunity.

Here are some ideas for using Temple Run as a classroom activity:

  • Have students work in small groups, each taking a turn on the game.  After each player, record all the data on a chart:  Score, Distance, Coins and Reason the Run ended.  Compare data and/or make a chart with the numbers.
  • Play the game multiple times, recording the data after each run.  Figure out the average score, distance and coins.
  • Convert the distance traveled from meters into feet or miles.  Play until you reach 10 miles (forcing students to figure out how many meters would be necessary to reach 10 miles).
  • On the opening statistics page where high scores are stored.  Compare your individual scores to the high scores.
  • Create a class chart of the reasons each player’s game ends (tree, water, eaten by creatures, fire, etc.) and calculate percentages and fractions.
  • Test the score formula: (provided by Wikipedia)

Their score is determined by their distance, plus five times the number of coins collected, plus 600 times the ordinal number of the total number of coins divisible by 100. These three values are then added and multiplied. The value of the multiplier is 10 more than the number of objectives unlocked. The formula is s = (m)(d+5c+t); “s” being number of points; “m” number of objectives unlocked + 10; “d” being distance; “c” being number of coins; “t” being the coin multiplier of 600 times the whole number remaining of c/100.

  • Use it as a writing prompt.  What was your character doing in that temple?  Why were they running?  How did the run go and what did you see?  How did your run end?

Some upper level mathematical equations with Temple Run: http://www.mathematicalmischief.com/2012/06/its-calculator-time-temple-run/

The Hunger Games Review Game


I resist most cultural phenomena on principle, but when a sixteen year old boy talks to you about how amazing a book series is, you have to take notice.  I only recently embraced “The Hunger Games” (as in I read the first book last week).  Coincidentally, I came across a review game activity based on “The Hunger Games” in my Edmodo World Languages community last week.  With a little tweaking, I knew it could be a major hit in the classroom.

The Set-Up

  • Arrange 12 desks in a circle/semi-circle.  If you have more than 12 students, place extra desks in tight clusters so that there are 12 little clusters of desks in a circle.
  • Prepare Questions:  I planned on playing five rounds during the game with 12 questions per round.  You could do random questions and pull them out of a hat too.
  • Fill 12 cups with beans.  I used jellybeans and put 5 jellybeans in each cup.  Label the cups with numbers #1-12.
  • Prepare the Cornucopia (see later)

The Beginning

  • Separate the students into the 12 separate districts (12 separate groups).  I always choose the grouping.  If numbers allow me to do so, I put my advanced students alone and match up my lower ability students so they may work with each other.
  • Give each district their cup of beans, stressing that they should not eat their beans.  The objective of the game is to acquire the most beans anyway, so they shouldn’t want to eat their chances of winning.
  • Begin with District 1 and ask the first review question.  If the student answers incorrectly, just move on to the next District.  If the student answers correctly, they may go and 1/2 of another District’s beans.  Continue by asking the next District a question.
  • After District 12 has answered their first question, the Capitol (the teacher) makes an announcement by drawing one of the Capitol cards.

Capitol Cards

I was preparing 5 rounds of the game and therefore I prepared 4 Capitol cards: one card to be read at the conclusion of Rounds 1, 2, 3 and 4. Here is what I used:

  • Redistribution of Districts: The Capitol has decided to change the resources of each district as a reminder that the Capitol is in control.  All cups rotate one District to the right.
  • Quarter Quell:  The time has come for districts to face each other in battle.  During the next round, each District must challenge another District before the question is asked.  Whichever of the two districts answers that question correctly gets to take 1/2 the losing District’s beans. In case of a tie, the win goes to the lowest numbered District.
  • Cornucopia: All Districts are in need of something to make their success in this game easier.  These items are in bags in the Cornucopia.  At the signal of the Capitol, team members may go and retrieve one bag from the Cornucopia.  Bags may not be opened until the Capitol permits.  These items may be used for the entirety of the game unless otherwise noted.
  • Silver Parachute: Sponsors have agreed to give aid to one struggling team.  Give extra beans to the team with the lowest number of beans.  In case of a tie, the tie goes to the highest numbered District.

I filled 12 bags with a variety of things for the bags in the Cornucopia.  I had some bags filled with a few jellybeans, bags with vocabulary or notes and some filled with empty paper.  I also had an “Auto-Win” card, where students could play it and automatically get a question correct.  There was a “Blockade” card too, where a team could block others from taking their beans for an entire round.

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The Victor

After playing all five rounds of the game, the student with the most jellybeans was declared the victor.  I gave out extra credit to the winner.

The Fallen Tributes

I wondered about how to deal with “killing” other districts or being eliminated from the game.  In one class, we played that if a student was down to one bean, you couldn’t take that one bean.  That kept players in the game.  My second class was much more inspired by the notion of eliminating their competitors, forming alliances, etc.  It made for a more interesting game.  But, since it was a review game, eliminated players still had to answer questions, but they couldn’t take nor receive jellybeans.  They couldn’t win but they were still forced to play.

I thought it went pretty well.  It took awhile to count out half of the jellybeans when we got towards the end of the game but I can’t figure a way around that.  It was a nice review activity and I would probably do it again in the future.  It took some prep time but it was exciting and the students really enjoyed it.

Present to the Future


Today I needed one more activity to help my student practice conjugating in the future tense.  On paper, things seemed to be going OK but I wanted to see how good my students would be at conjugating on their feet.

I created a photo slide show of different present tense phrases using conjugations of the verb “ir”.  I told students that instead of saying something is “going to” happen, we will be expressing that it “will” happen in the future but conjugating the verb in the future tense.  Students were split into two teams.  One at a time, students stood up, set a conjugation goal and were shown the slides of the sentences.  They had about 5 seconds to give the correct future translation before the pictures flipped.  This activity is very similar to the activity I did with Direct Object Pronouns last year.

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At first things were rough but as we got going, students were catching on and doing quite well.  I was impressed by how many students adjusted to the irregular verbs and the reflexive verbs that were in the mix.  I even had to stop one student at 25 straight correct conjugations just for the sake of time and mercy for the other team.  I felt a lot better about how well my students knew the future tense and I think a lot of them felt better too.

Download the IR to the Future Presentation here.

Vocabulary Jenga


Normally I write about new technologies and projects I am using with my students.  This post isn’t further from technology.  Straight out of the ’80’s, I brought my Jenga game into the classroom for a vocabulary review.  According to my end of the year student surveys, this vocabulary game was by far the most fun and exciting for my students. 

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The planning and preparation is the hardest part of this review game.  You need one game of Jenga with all the little blocks.  Then place a piece of scotch tape on each block.  I write a vocabulary word onto the tape (so that I can reuse the Jenga blocks for years to come).  Since I write one word on every block, it is necessary to have about 66 vocabulary words, so I like to use this activity as an end of semester review.

The class is split into two teams.  One member from a team one comes forward and pulls a block out of the Jenga tower.  Then, without any help from their teammates, that student must correct identify the vocabulary word. 

If they get the word correct: they put the Jenga block down on the table and a teammate from the opposing side comes up and has to add that block to the top of the tower.  Then that student pulls a block from the tower and cycle begins again.

If the student gets the word incorrect: they put the Jenga block down on the table and another member from their team must come up and put the block on the top of the tower.  Then that student continues the process.

At first the game seems pretty simple but eventually students will catch on that a they do not want any of their teammates up there with a wobbly tower.  It is in their best interest to get the words correct and force the other team to go.

Note on effectiveness of vocabulary review: I “stack the tower” a little bit in my favor.  Students will usually start by pulling blocks from the middle or bottom.  Then as the tower grows taller, they will want to pull from the near top.  I place difficult vocabulary words or words that I want them to review in the middle at the beginning of the game.  After a few successfull rounds of row building, students will begin to pick those same blocks again.  The more a word gets repeated in the game, the more they seem to remember it.

There is also some research out there (which I don’t have the time to cite at the moment) that suggests that adolescents learn best when under stress.  When this game gets intense, there is yelling, pressure and spotlight attention.  Almost always, a student that has a word in one of those pressure situations will mention it again a few days later.  He or she might not remember anything else from the game, but the words review during the tensest moments of the game seem to stick.

 

TV Theme Song Challenge


The Answers are listed below. Please scroll down.

Here are the answers!

  1. Fresh Prince of Bel Air
  2. Dancing with the Stars
  3. Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader
  4. Rugrats
  5. The Office
  6. Seinfeld
  7. Wizards of Waverly Place
  8. House
  9. 7th Heaven
  10. Saved by the Bell
  11. Two and a Half Men
  12. Dog the Bounty Hunter
  13. Bewitched
  14. Cheers
  15. The Biggest Loser
  16. Full House
  17. Survivor
  18. Home Improvement
  19. Bones
  20. 24
  21. Family Guy
  22. Friday Night Lights