class activity

What to do at the end of the year when students are checked out?

Posted on Updated on

checked out

Every year I get to this point of the school year where the weather has changed, the students are restless and the ideas are running thin on how to keep their attention.  Even though I have done this job for 18 years this crazy end of the year phenomenon still sneaks up on me.  This year I have been planning and preparing for this moment and it feels good.  So allow me to share with you the ideas I have to re-focus those students and put all that summer energy into constructive use.  

Now, more than ever, is the time to get students up and moving and using the language.  Students need to be prepared for finals and as teachers we need to check to see where students stand…are they prepared to move to the next level?  Let’s take a look at a few activities that will add some freshness to the classroom and energize you and your students.  


Bluff-0-Rama: Start by separating the class into two or more teams.  Ask a question to one of the teams.  Students will stand if they know the answer, think they know the answer or are bluffing the other team into thinking they know the answer.  Count up the students standing.  This will be the points the team earns or loses.  The other team will choose a student to answer the question.  If the answer is correct, the team earns points. If it is answered incorrectly, the team loses points and the other team can steal the points by answering correctly.  This is a great way to review culture and grammar as well as signs.  I don’t allow the team to discuss the answers just stand. This lets me know who knows the information and who needs extra help.  I also don’t allow the same student to be picked twice in a row.  This means the student called on in round one can’t be chosen in round 2 and can stand without worry of being called on.  

Extended Activity: I have the students create the questions themselves as homework. They write the question and the answer.  This allows students time to review and again allows me to check what students know. I assign 4 – 6 questions for each students because you will end up with a lot of repeated questions.  

brackettemplateBrackets: I got this idea from the Spanish Mama and I love it.  Review any topic like foods, colors, countries, clothing…anything.  Create a bracket on the board with the words you want to review.  Sign a question to find out which word moves up in the bracket. Designate one side of the room for like and the other for don’t like or the yes or no.  This is a great activity for the last few minutes of class, daily review or to get kids up and moving.  It can be done without the bracket but the bracket is good for the visual learner.  You can go to the Spanish Mama’s blog and get her Powerpoint for the bracket.

Extended activity: Have a debate and have students try to persuade others to come to their side or have students create their own bracket and work in small groups. 

5signsParameter Review: There are a lot of ways you can review vocabulary but none are as fun as this “board” game I have created. The game has questions to get students thinking about signs, how they are made and what they know.  What I love about this game is that there is no limit on what vocabulary you review or at what level students are currently ranked.  This activity can take a full class period or makes a great sub plan for intermediate and advanced signers. I wouldn’t leave a more novice class this activity unsupervised unless they had built up a large vocabulary.   

Image Source: Cult of Pedagogy 

Chat Stations: Set up topics you have covered throughout the year and post them around the room.  Set a timer and have students move in groups of 2 – 4 students around the room and simply chat about that topic.  When the buzzer sounds students should move to the next topic until they have made it through all the questions you posted.  Time should vary depending on what level the class is.  Novice learners will need less time and more advanced learners will need more time.  

Extended activity: Have students summarize what each group member’s response was for each topic and turn in for class credit.  


Around the World: This one isn’t a new concept but it is a good end of the year review game that helps demolish the glazed over look in a student’s eyes.  Circle up desks for all the students in the classroom except one.  That one student will stand next to another student in the circle.  Ask for students to tell you the meaning of a sign, translate a sentence, answer a comprehension question or respond with the accurate answer to a culture question.  The student who answers the question correctly first  moves to the next position in the circle. The object of the game is to see how far one student can travel without making a mistake.  Students want to move around the circle and end up in their original seat.  The first person to arrive at their original chair wins.  Only two students can answer the question and compete at a time.

I hope wrapping up your year will be fantastic and both you and your students will be energized using these activities. If you like what you read, click the follow button to receive notifications with new posts.


Pique Student Interest with QR codes!

Posted on Updated on

Although QR codes have been around for a while, I have never incorporated them in my classes.  I know other teachers that have and tell me kids love them.  I thought they were hard, complicated and time consuming. So over the course of the last week I have set out to find out what QR codes really are and just how I can use them in my classroom.  I am delighted at what I have discovered and I hope you will find this to be true as well.

If you are in the dark about what a QR code is let me help you out.  QR codes are simply a machine readable code that stores a URL and can be used for quick reference (see the QR there?).

I researched and came up with 10 of my favorite ideas for QR codes in the classroom.  I read many online articles and talked to some of my favorite online teacher pals.  I got may of my ideas from Mara Gust at School of Thought where she wrote a guest blog. Other ideas came from my ASL teacher group on Edmodo and the great Brandy Cables @Mrscablesclassroom. I just tweaked ideas to work for ASL.

Let’s talk about how to add some interest to lessons and pique student interest.  Here are my top 10 Favorites…

  • Scavenger Hunt –  Split the class into teams and task them with creating videos to various locations on campus.  Then students can make a drawing, cut it up into puzzle pieces. Videos need to be turned into QR codes and placed with a puzzle piece in the accurate areas of campus…one clue should lead to the next location and so on.  Set up equal teams so one class meeting 3 teams hid the codes and 3 teams work to solve the clues.  The next day switch roles.  While teams are hunting for clues the other teams work on a research project, studying vocabulary or completing a jigsaw activity. Possibilities are endless.
  • Guess Who – Use QR codes for a game of Guess Who. Students can create the videos or you as a teacher can have videos prepared.  Link the videos to a QR code and place around the classroom.  Students can view the videos and write down their guess with a pre made worksheet or just written on a piece of paper. Use to describe famous people students know, use descriptions of students in the classroom or use after the end of a famous deaf person unit.  Check answers at the end.  
  • Literature – Link the QR code to various pieces of literature you want students to study. Create a worksheet for students to analyze the meaning or summarize the author’s intent. Give each student a QR Code with a different piece of literature to watch, practice and present.
  • Showcase student work – We all come up with awesome projects for our students to do but how do we show them off to others?  With QR codes this is easily solved. Create QR codes and post to your website; Email the QR code home to the parent of your student;  Email blast it out to the school community; or Send it to your School Board and really toot your own horn.  The QR code is a great way to digitally show off what your students can do!
  • Internet based references – Use QR codes to give students a quick way to reference your class lectures. If you are talking about Gallaudet, link students to a virtual tour of the school or still images of what the campus looks like now compared to when it was founded.  Use QR codes for students to connect to various sign languages around the world as a way to reference them quickly or learn different alphabets.
  • Digital Praise – Instead of a good job or a happy face sticker place a QR code to the test or quiz.  You can pre-make these and slap them on all that A work you receive.
  • Email encouragement –  Send a QR code that leads to a special note.  Use these or create your own. Test them out on (not sure if this would work I haven’t tried it) or tape the QR code to each student desk every week…what a great ways to start off Monday!
  • Introduce yourself –  For the first day of school email the QR code that links to a captioned video that introduces you to the students before the first day of school. Think how much excitement that could generate in new students seeing ASL for the first time!  This could also settle some nerves of the new incoming students.
  • Introducing a new topic – if you are teaching about Laurent Clerc link to a tour of the city he was born, to the time period he lived, or the School he met Gallaudet at.  The QR code is a great attention getter to start the topic.
  • What is this sign? – Have a group of pictures that has the next 7 vocabulary words you want students to know. Adjacent to the picture place the QR code that will bring up the video of the vocabulary word on student’s device. Check if they know the signs by playing a game or have them take notes of the parameters for each word.  Or place the videos around the school to teach students how to sign the buildings and locations around the campus.  

I have 2 QR reader sites I like to use…Try Google URL Shortener or 

I hope you find these ideas useful and easy to integrate into your teaching style. Leave a comment below to tell us what you tried!

Creating a Comic Book

Posted on Updated on

To piggy back on my post about how to use comic strips in the classroom, I have found this video discussing how your class can create a comic book. This can be a great individual, partner, or group project.  It is a fun task students can complete and show us what they know about Deaf culture.  It is a good expansion activity after a culture lecture.  So many times we talk about the culture of the community in a bubble or single lecture then never refer to it until we test students on the information.  How do we know they really understand?  A comic book can be a great way for students to show what they have learned and allow us a way to assess student learning.  Enjoy!