Activities That Work /
F. Special times of challenge

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley

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F. Special times of challenge.
1. Beginning of year.
2. End of class period.
3. End of year.
4. Fridays.
5. Spring fever.

1. Beginning of year.

97/09 From-> Irene Moon <>
Subject: Viaje Activity

I know that several of us, especially at the beginning of the year, try
to help the kids get acquainted with the countries whose language we
teach. Or we plan little scenarios where, as in my case, we're learning
airport vocabulary, directions, shopping customs, what to
say in the hotel...and all "that there stuff" as Bette Middler would

Well, here's an idea that Claudette Moran sent me which I have adapted
and jazzed up for Spanish 2. She sent me an elementary activity in English
called "20 days in (your favorite place). I changed it to 2 weeks and am having
students pick a country. I've set it up like a weekly calendar, included
illustrations and wrote it in Spanish. It's pretty niffty.

It asks students to:
1) draw/color a flag of the country
2) List 10 places they'd go/things they'd see in their country
3) Create a Bumper Sticker/suitcase decal 4) Make a list of 10 things
they'd take with them 5) List 10 recuerdos they'd bring home
6)Write a one day menu using foods typical of the country 7) Do a mini
cookbook recipes for a dessert, typical entree and beverage or salad
Include a Spanish and English version, plus pictures if possible

and so on......

Irene Moon

2. End of class period.

97/10 From-> Dellawanna Bard <>
Subject: Re: Know Any Fun Games???

Rich, a fun way to reinforce newly introduced vocab when there are just
a few minutes remaining at the end of the period is to send several
students to the blackboard at a time and ask them to illustrate a
sentence you will read them in the target language. The idea is to make
the sentence very silly so that they MUST understand the individual
words to understand what to draw. In other words, for once they can't
derive meaning from context. For example, if we have a unit with animal
vocab I might say something (in L2) like "The cow and the chicken got
married. Draw their 3 children." Last week we had sentences in German
such as," I always give my grandmother a bouquet of chocolates for her
birthday." and "My mother gets mad when I go bowling in the movie
theater." The sentences are so silly that the kids get a huge kick out
of it when they understand them. The pictures are just a fun way to
drill vocab recognition. A quick note: I allow no symbols of any kind in
the pictures, no words, dollar signs, etc. Kids just have to come up
with creative ways to get the points across.

Del Bard

3. End of year.

96/05 From-> Grisselle Principe <kwo_principe@K12.MEC.OHIO.GOV>
Subject: End of the school year activities

It's almost the end of the school year. I teach 7th & 8th graders (13
and 14 years old!!!!!). Does anybody have any suggestions on FUN
activities (not necessarily based on a textbook) in which students need
to use the target language? Anything involving music, or food and any
follow up activity in which students need to talk to each other and
maybe write a little? Thanks. I'll really appreciate it.

Grisselle Principe


96/05 From-> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: End of the school year activities

We had an inter "language club" activity last year that was pretty
successful. We called it the Bilingual Battle and BBQ. The BBQ part is
pretty obvious. The other part was a series of 'fun' games that required
the participants to use their L2 in order to be competetive. If you're
interested let me know and I'll send you a copy.

Bob Hall


96/05 From-> Jeffrey Stein <>
Subject: Re: End of the school year activities

How about a student-written video taped skit. In the past I have done a
simplified version of "The Three Bears" complete with pink toilet paper
tube pig noses! The kids really enjoyed it.



96/05 From-> viviane levy phys fac/staff <>
Subject: Re: End of the school year activities

Here are a couple of suggestions that come to mind - a) Have students
make a poster about "Who am I" - They are to describe themselves (as
simple or elaborate sentences as you indicate), maybe physically and/or
character-wise; they are to add things related to hobbies, activities,
extra-curricular activities and make a collage of those things - i.e.
glue a picture of Michael Jordan, if one plays or likes basketball,
etc.. - students could present it orally, then it could be displayed on
the bulletin board.

b) On a complete different activity, one can teach songs such "La danse
des canards (the chicken dance)", les Champs Elysees with movements and
line dance-type steps - so, kids will have to move about.

c) In groups, they could write a commercial - topics could be chosen
from chapter themes (so, they are already familiar with main vocab

Bonne chance - Good luck!!
Viviane Levy


96/05 From-> Lanier High School Library <>
Subject: Re: End of the school year activities

Yes. I play Petanque outside with my classes during the last 2 weeks of
school. Not every day. They have to earn the right to participate on a
given team. All work must be complete, etc.

They will kill to play. You can use various incentives. I purchased
several games in France this past summer. A Bocce set, however, can work
quite well.

Enjoy. Loads of fun.

Richard Shelburne


96/05 From-> Paul Conley <>
Subject: Re: End of the school year activities

What about having your kids make flour tortillas at home with a
classmate and videotape the entire experience? Make sure to limit the
tape to 10 minutes. Ask them to include music in Spanish in the
background. Have them fill the tortillas with something and feed them to
their parents. The parents can grade the tortillas (1- points). For good
measure, you might want them to do a one-minute commercial.

Buena suerte,


96/05 From-> Beverly Larson <>
Subject: More end of the year activities

A couple of weeks ago all of our sophomores were on a field trip, and I
was left with only four or five students in each of my French III
classes. We had been studying French dishes, so I sent them on a
"scavenger hunt." Armed with their lists of foods (such as boeuf
bourgignon and coq au vin), they searched my cookbooks for recipes. When
they found a recipe they wrote the name of the cookbook and the page
number on their list. They were amazed to find that the French really do
eat the things we had been studying, and they enjoyed looking at the
color photos. I awarded 2 bonus points to the participants, who seemed
to enjoy the activity. BTW: I've collected a number of inexpensive
cookbooks at used bookstores and at remainder bookstores.

An art activity that would be fun as the year draws to a close: I have
four or five sets of Impressionist card games (the "7 families" variety)
that I purchased at museums in France. We usually play according to the
rules, but one day I decided to play "concentration" instead, using
10-15 cards from one deck and the identical cards from another deck. The
remaining cards could be used by another group of students. My goal was
for students to recognize important works by the painters, and the cards
worked well because they are labeled.

A vocabulary review activity that I have used successfully in the past:
This game is based on Outburst. Prepare lists of words in various
categories, such as "foods," "clothes," "places in a town." Each list
should have 7-10 words, but not always the most common words that will
come to mind immediately. (Rule Number One of Outburst: the Game isn't
always fair!) I write my lists on transparencies, which I cover with
post-it notes. The class is divided into teams. Usually I have them work
in groups of four, and they can all participate at the same time, if
desired, or one team at a time.

I announce the category, and the students have a minute to say/write all
the words they can think of in the category. We compare their lists to
mine, and the team with the most matches wins. They like the game, and
it helps them review a lot of words. I usually hear a student mention a
word and someone else ask "What's that?"

Beverly Larson

4. Fridays.

97/10 From-> Connie Vargas <>
Subject: Re: Friday Afternoons

Christianne Smith wrote:
>a good activity to keep high
>school kids on task on a Friday afternoon.

Today I played mastermind. Remember that commercial game? I'll try to
simplify the rules.

Think of, say, a 4 letter word. I'll choose "FROG"

Now students begin to give you all the 4 letter words they can think of
one at a time. Each word is written on the board and then the teacher
indicates: 1) how many of the letters in their word match the letters in
yours 2) If any of the letters are in the exact same place as your word.

If they say: "DOOR"
I indicate the them that they got 2 and 0. 2 letters are alike and none
are in the same place. (Double letters count twice only if used twice in
the original word too.)

Now they say: "CATS" and get a 0 and 0. This is very valuable. They
don't want to use any words with C,A,T or S. Or if they do, they know
those letters don't count.

I want to say that this is a high level thinking game, but I played it
with my last period of the day today. They are my lowest ability class.
I explained and demonstrated it in the TL only (as I do everything).
They caught on, played well and had a great time. They also felt very
proud for their accomplishment. They also guessed every word. Granted
their vocab is limited, but they sure did a quick mental review of all
that vocab while playing. You might have them brainstorm a list with a
partner before starting to guess. You could increase participation that

Connie Vargas

5. Spring fever.

97/04 From-> Sherry Borgren <>
Subject: Re: HELP! Spring fever


I think Spring Fever is probably hitting us all about now. The
temperature today in sunny Phoenix was 94. As this is my 21st time at
coping with Spring Fever, I am learning that force only creates more
resistance. I really vary my activities more as April and May hit. Last
week in French II we made houses out of Play Dough that I made at home.
I gave each group a sheet of poster board and several deli containers of
dough. The assignment was to draw the floor plan of a house and then
create all the furniture and accessories to go with the plan. Oh, I gave
them popsicle sticks and toothpicks too.. The catch was--no English.
They could point, look at vocab lists, pantomime or heaven forbid, speak
French, but they had to figure out how to work with their group without
English. After 3 class periods, each group presented their house to the
class. They were the best presentations they've ever done. I even
learned some new vocab myself as one group had a lava light and bean bag
chair. Some even made food for their kitchens and named all of it, even
though we studied food all the way last August.

But as I know, combating Spring Fever, is a One-Day-At-A-Time

Sherry Borgren


97/04 From-> "Sharon L. Kazmierski" <>
Organization: Lingua Latina Non Est Mortua!
Subject: Re: HELP! Spring fever


>Yesterday they did oral presentations which were supposed to show what they
>had learned from a unit we've been working on. The oral presentation was their
>"alternative assessment". I gave them very specific directions and a rubric so they
>would know what to expect in terms of grading. The two key components were

>I had hoped that inviting members of another class would give them an incentive
>to really give some thought and PREPARE for this day. I asked the teacher of the
>other class to evaluate the students just as I was... and our assessments were pretty
>much the same. Anyway, the majority of the presentations left MUCH to be desired,
>let alone information that was left out. Out of the class of 11, one or two demonstrated
>that she had put any amount of time or effort into this assignment (they have known

I gave a major portfolio assignment recently. For the most part, the
kids did a great job.

These are the things I think I did right:

1. I did the assignment myself first. I thought how I might do the
assignment and then made my own prototype. The assignment was a photo
album with descriptive paragraphs, based around an assigned theme. I
showed the students my own work when I gave them the syllabus for the
assignment. I have to say that my student's products were actually much,
much better than mine. :-)

2. I provided time for conferencing throughout the time they had to
prepare for the assignment. What I would do differently next time is
give assigned rough drafts with specific due dates and give a percentage
of the points to the rough draft. I would also give points for the
conference. This is a step I will ABSOLUTELY take next time!

Two weeks is the amount of time I gave and it was probably too long. One
student, a good student even, said to me that she thought that 2 weeks
was too long. She couldn't get motivated. She said, and I quote, she
needed to be under some more pressure to get it done. I would probably
give a 2 week time span next time, but build in those rough draft due
dates and conferences in too.

>Their attitude is "this is not an art class," "I'm not creative", " why should we
>learn this - it's a waste of time"? The biggest hurdle that this particular group
>hasn't yet overcome is that of following directions... some of them simply
>REFUSE to do what's necessary (i.e. In a presentation last week they were
>supposed to include 15 symbols - some chose to use only 7, 8 or 9.)

Some kids AREN'T artistic. I'm not and it drove me crazy when I had to
be artistic. I was one of those weird kids who liked pencil and paper
tests but really despised the "projects." I do think that letting kids
use media like photography and computer graphics really does help. I
love using fonts and photos and graphics, but don't make me use markers
or paint. Ugh!

Sharon Kazmierski


97/04 From-> Mary Young <>
Subject: Re: HELP! Spring fever

Beth Damascus wrote about kids' waning interest this time of year.

I don't know who's got it worse, them or me! With temps hovering around
90 here, and the air conditioning not up to par, it's very hard to

Something I am trying now in French II is a magazine project (in lieu of
a portfolio). They will each produce a magazine over the next 7 weeks.
They must have a title, an editorial policy (theme and purpose),
"sommaire", 5 print ads, 3 classified ads, an interview with a famous
person, a couple of reports on events relevant to the theme of the
magazine, an advice column, a how-to article (could be a recipe or
instructions for changing spark plugs), and two games or activities (may
include a horoscope).

They can choose any theme (I told them not to embarrass me), including
themselves. So, Britannia can do a magazine called "Britannie" and
include anything that defines or interests her. In fact, however, she
has chosen cartoons, and is having some fun with it.

I've laid out all my French magazines and newspapers and set
intermediate deadlines (2 ads and a classified ad due today). We'll see
how it turns out.

We're using the text as a reference. We address grammar and function
phrases as they might be applied to their articles, and do homework from
the book. They're pretty enthusiastic, and I'm getting to work with them
one-on-one and give them help they can digest. Now I just have to figure
out how to haul all those magazines home to read them.

A couple of super cybernauts are even producing their tomes on

It's giving them a focus for a very difficult time of year. I've come to
think that if you haven't taught it by Daylight Savings Time, you can
forget it for this year! ;-)

Good luck to us all--


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