Class Activities

Thoughts on Stations and Games: Homecoming Week Edition

Homecoming week started last Thursday. Friday was “Movie Star” Day:

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Ninja tutus.

Between the chaos and costumes of homecoming week, plus the interruption of fall break in the middle, plus just being at the point in the semester where I am tired, we’ve been playing a lot games in class. I’ve written before about using games the day before a break to engage students with language, and I wanted to share a few more ideas.

  • Stations do not have to have rigid timing and rotation. Some games/activities take more time than others, and that’s okay. If students are enjoying an activity and using language, I am happy to let them keep that activity until it is no longer engaging. Also, whenever I do stations where students physically move from one area to the next, a lot of time is wasted with transitions and my dear students treat me to a lovely chorus of whines. So, I’ve found that often it works just as well to move the activities around, and let students stay put. I circulate constantly (and get tons of steps on my imaginary FitBit) and offer to trade out activities when one seems to have run its course.
  • You need more activities than groups, but they don’t all have to be different activities. If it’s okay for students to spend twenty minutes playing one game, they aren’t going to have to do eight different stations. That’s fine. However, it helps to have multiples of games if they do take a long time to play. For example, I made two sets these Halloween preposition cards for a Go Fish station. Students really enjoyed playing it, and having multiples of the same set made it possible for more students to play. Also, having extra games makes it easier to keep everyone busy when groups are finishing at different times.
  • All your stations cannot be high prep. I made three different sets of custom cards for stations today. That was a lot of work to make, even with help from several students with the cutting. Having other games handy that do not require any more work than getting it out of the closet like As, Dos, Tres or Verba,  will save your sanity.
  • That being said, Quizlet makes printing cards super easy. I waste so much time finding pictures, pasting them into a word document, resizing, and formatting when I make my own picture, word, or sentence cards. If you make it as a set in Quizlet, you can add pictures and print flash cards without having to mess with the formatting.
  • If you invest the time to teach students to play it, then use it more than once. I saw an idea on Mis Clases Locas about playing Old Maid with countries and capitals. Great idea! Then I realized I had printed and laminated the cards without including an old maid. And then realized I didn’t even remember how to play old maid. And then I remember that we had played spoons on our game day last Friday, and that was basically the same thing! So that’s what we did, and I didn’t have to spend time explaining the rules to a new game.
  • For weeks like this, I am ok with “just” playing with language. It takes a lot of thought and prep time to prepare multiple engaging stations activities around the same content. So today I made an effort to start students on an activity related to our current topic, but if they want to play As, Dos, Tres or Spot It in Spanish, that’s fine with me too.
Class Activities

#FridayBeforeSpringBreak: Game Day!

Or, alternatively, how to ace your observation with minimal prep on the day before a break 🙂

With the high absenteeism typical for the day before a break, today was the perfect day to pull out my collection of games! I divided students into groups of four or five and after a brief intro, gave each group one of the following games to play. I walked around, answered questions, and played along! It was the perfect #fridaybeforespringbreak. 🙂

The games:

  1. As, Dos, Tres.  – a counting game I learned in Costa Rica, kind of like War or ERS.
  2. Pensante – a few years ago a friend gave me a copy of Pensante, which is basically Spanish scrabble. I handed the game to one group along with a stack of dictionaries. I let them make up their own rules from there (trading letters, taking as many as they wanted, hunting for words in the dictionary…) as long as they played words in Spanish.
  3. Lotería – I found a couple of sets of Lotería in the department’s supply closet last May. What??? Why aren´t these being used? Well, I opened one up and realized it was probably because some of the pictures aren’t quite school appropriate – El borracho? El negrito? And really, La sirenita, would it be too much to put some sea shells on? So I cut up a few cards and taped them back together until I had 10 school appropriate lotería cards, and Voila! a station 🙂
  4. Verba – I have one “real” set and one print & play set I printed, laminated, and laboriously cut apart during post planning last summer at our local Teacher’s Resource Center. My students really enjoyed it! I just told them it was like Spanish Apples to Apples or Cards against humanity, and they took it from there. I used it in two big groups yesterday in Spanish 1 after my students finished a test, but I think it was even better in the small groups (4-5) that we did today.
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    Big groups for Verba in Spanish 1
  5. Spot it – I started class today previewing spot it vocab with this set on Quizlet. I printed out some flash cards and had students cut them into a matching game, we ran through a few rounds of Scatter, and played some Quizlet live. Then I called a representative from each group and demo’d with them how to play. So fun! I gave the game to one group, along with a print out of the vocab from Quizlet. They were really into it!
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These pictures do not adequately convey the intensity of this game!