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