Quiz Mix Up

If you are looking for a way to make your quizzes more interesting, this is a great activity to use. Start by creating however many questions you would like to use (probably no more than ten is best) based on a reading or story you just did in class. Make sure that your questions focus on target structures that you are working on or want your students to acquire. Show each question one at a time on the board and have students write their answer on a scrap piece of paper or Post-It note. They should then flip over the piece of paper and write their name on the back. They should not write the question number down.

When you have finished projecting all the questions and the kids have finished writing all the answers, walk around, collecting the little papers and put them in a grocery bag to mix them up. Project the first question on the board again. Choose any answer from the bag and read it aloud. Students must show two thumbs up if the answer is the correct answer for that question, or two thumbs down if it is not. If the answer is wrong, it may sound really silly. If the answer is correct, read the name of the brilliant student and have the class applaud. If it is not correct, shake your head sadly,  and throw the answer back in the bag. Shake bag again and continue until all of the questions are correctly answered. At the end of the activity, have the students tell you the answers to each question and write them on the board.

If you wish, at the start of the next class, you can put the questions on the overhead again and give them the same quiz. This time have the kids answer all the questions and turn their papers in for a quiz grade. While this may seem like you are making the quiz too easy for your students, the prepping actually provides them with a lot of comprehensible input in a sneaky way!

Source: Jody Noble, The Noble Word

Post-It Story

The day after doing a story with a class, try putting students into groups and give them photos from the story, a blank sheet of paper, and a pack of Post-It notes. Then have them write one sentence on each Post-It note about the events in the story and stick them on the photo page that it is best relates to. Once they have finished writing out the story on the Post-It notes, have all the groups switch packets and read the story in English as a group. You can also have the students remove the Post-It notes from the photos before passing the packet to another group. You can still have them read each sentence in English, but now students must also decide which photo to put the Post-It note on.

Source: Cynthia Hitz, TPRS with Spanish 1

Monday Conversations

Having a “conversation” with your class of students on a Monday morning is a great way to personalize and get to know your students better. If you want to include everyone and have more engaging, meaningful discussions, try calling on kids randomly by using popsicle sticks with their names on them. Ask them lots of questions about what they did over the weekend and then milk the responses! Also try to circle and compare what different students did.

Some students may be not want to speak up to the class during this activity. You can get the ball rolling by having them tell their partners what they did instead, and then have the other student report back to the class what their partner did. You can also have them draw something that they did over the weekend or a vacation and then discuss specific drawings as a class, similar to Circling with Balls or Powerful PQA.

It can also be very fun to mix up this activity, choosing a student (with their permission, beforehand and privately) and and then, writing on the board/overhead a series of supposed “things they did” over the weekend. These things can be in the realm of possibility BUT with an interesting celebrity or they can be completely OUT of the realm of possibility but which include other kids in the class or people everyone in the class actually knows. By arranging it in advance, you can also have the student admit to all of the activities except that they did them with “other” people–not the ones you wrote down. They can also emphatically deny everything on the list, but then arrange to have their best friend in the class say that all of the items are true. You can also ask the class if the items are true or false, always remembering to make the student “look good” in front of their classmates. Fantasy is far more interesting than everyone’s real weekend.

Source: Jody Noble, John Moran, and Kristy Placido, moreTPRS

Three Level Guide

This is a strategy that can be used with advanced readers to help them go deeper into a text. You could use it for lower-level classes if the guide was in English (first language) about a text in the target language, but you’d want to keep it short or separate the days so as not to have too much discussion in the first language. Even with the advanced students you may want to separate the second and third levels so that they are on different days, as students must re-read the text several times to find the answers.

Start by figuring out the thematic ideas you want the kids to get out of the reading. They have to be statements that are true about life and that are represented in the text. Then you plan the middle level, using statements that are about the text, but that will lead to the conclusions in the applied level. These statements will need proof from more than one sentence; that is, students have to bring together two or three facts from the story to prove them. These should also be all true, as far as you’re concerned (although the students may not necessarily agree with you). Finally, you plan the first level, which uses very close restatements of actual sentences from the text. If you want to be a bit tricky, you can use a few incorrect ideas here, just so the students don’t get complacent. These questions can be answered individually or students can work in groups and try to come to an agreement about each statement.

Below are some examples of the types of questions you could use with Little Red Riding Hood, and this is another site where you can see some more information about the three-level guide.

Level 1: Literal Level

You have just read “Little Red Riding Hood.” Read the statements. Mark the ones you think are true with a plus, and the ones that are not true with a minus. In either case, check your text and put the number of the item next to the sentence that proves your point. (Alternatively, write on this paper page number, paragraph number, and line number.)

1. LRRH has a red hat.

2. LRRH’s grandmother is sick.

3. LRRH’s mother tells her to go through the woods to take a basket to her grandmother.

4. LRRH is distracted by a bear in the woods.

5. LRRH takes a different route than the one her mother gave her.

6. When LRRH arrives at the house, her grandmother is waiting for her.

7. A villager hears screams in the grandmother’s house.

8. The villager kills the wolf.

9. The grandmother survives.

Level 2: Interpretive Level

What does the text say? These ideas may not be directly stated, but if you think they are true for the story, be ready to support your decisions with information from the text.

1. Little Red Riding Hood’s (LRRH) mother loves her.

2. LRRH does not follow what her mother said to do.

3. LRRH is very naive.

4. LRRH and her grandmother could have been killed.

5. LRRH is very lucky.

Level 3: Application Level

What does the author mean to say? Do you agree with these statements? Be ready to discuss the answer to both questions with proof from the story and from your life.

15. It is dangerous to talk to strangers.

16. Do as your parents say.

Source: Michele Whaley, moreTPRS

Same and Different

This activity is good for getting students to re-read a story several times and also helps them to practice critical thinking skills. Start by taking a story that you’ve done recently and write a new version by changing a few, small details. Then read the new story out loud, checking for comprehension, circling, and personalizing the text, just as you would for any story. Finally have students complete a series of questions in the target language comparing the two texts. These questions should help students to think critically. For example:

  1. Identify the problem in the original version of the story.
  2. Identify the problem in this version of the story.
  3. Identify two similarities between this version of the story and the version with Nathan.
  4. Identify two differences between this version of the story and the version with Nathan. / Compare and contrast this version and the original version.
  5. Identify the solution to the problem in this version of the story.
  6. Identify the solution to the problem in the original version of the story.
Try presenting the questions one at a time and have them write down their answers. Then discuss possible answers to the questions before moving on to the next question. This activity could be done as a reading assessment (once you have practiced it), a partner activity where students write down and then compare answers with a partner, or as a group that develops the answer together.

Source: Martina Bex, Lesson Plans for CI/TPRS Classrooms