Games

Dice …Why I can’t live without them!

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I am constantly seeing posts in my social media groups about what is one thing in your classroom you can’t live without.  For years I have pondered this question and answered it a million different ways. There has never been one thing I LOVE so much I can’t teach without…until this school year.  I have discovered dice and so many ways to use them to get students signing and using the language. I can go on and on but it is getting close to the end of the school year so instead of me rambling on about my love of dice let me get right down to why you will love them too.  

Top 5 reasons to use dice in your World Language classroom:

  1. Student engagement
  2. Getting students talking
  3. Creating a fun environment
  4. Detour from the mundane
  5. Giving options and variety

ICEBREAKER

Give each group member a dice and have them roll.  Based on what number they roll, students will tell something about themselves.

1 Something about your family
2 Silly human trick
3 Embarrassing story

4

What you love to do when you have time
5 What you are going to do this weekend
6 Pets you have or had

KABOOM!

This activity is based on the game Kaboom and was shown to me by my dear friends Jennifer and Shea.  Students are placed in groups of four.  Students take turn signing pre-created sentences or questions.  After the sentence or question is signed, they ask the group if it is correct.  If the other players agree the construction of the sentence was accurate, player will roll the dice and earn the points shown on the dice EXCEPT if they roll the Kaboom number.  The Kaboom number changes each round.  For example, in the first round if you roll a 1,  you lose all your points and then round 2, if you roll a 2, you would lose all your points. If the student signs the sentence incorrect they lose their turn and give the dice to the next student in their group. Rounds can be played for any duration of time you want.  I play for about 5 – 7 minutes.  Example of game

VOCABULARY REVIEW

Creating a grid with images of vocabulary you want students to know is a great way to incorporate repetition and FUN into a class period.  In this activity students would need 2 dice and a partner or group.  Students roll one dice to represent the number on the vertical row and roll the second dice to determine the number on the horizontal row. Students then sign the word in the box on the grid.  

Extension activity: Students can use the word to create a sentence and reverse the numbers to use a different word to ask a question to the group.  This all depends on the vocabulary being used.  Visit my TpT store to see examples of this idea.  

LET’S TALK

This activity has endless possibilities.  It is similar to the above activity where students will need two dice and a partner or small group.  Topics can be given on numerous subjects like weather, shopping, travel, holidays or daily routines.  You can find activities like the example below at All Things Topics and A LOT of other conservation activities.

lets talk

OPTIONS

Give students a list of in-class assignments or homework options and have students roll the dice to determine which activity they will complete.  This will pique student interest in the assignment and hopefully add intrigue and allure to the process.  Students can complete all assignments or you can assign a specific number to be done like 3 out of six determined by the dice numbers.  

1 Watch a video
2 Create a dialogue with a partner
3 Write a synopsis
4 Compare the differences and similarities
5 Debate the topic
6 Narrate the event

I asked parents for dice donations and I ended up with 50 pairs.  It is a cheap and easy way for parents to help out and a lot of families have extras around their homes.  If you can’t get any in your classroom, have students make some of their own. Learn how here.  

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Games! Banish Boredom in Your Classroom!

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If you love playing games in your classroom or if you are on the opposite spectrum and have no clue how to integrate games during class time, you came to the right place.  I am going to tell you why you should play games in your classroom or continue to integrate games as part of your teaching practice. Games are a wonderfully  tricky way to encourage students to memorize vocabulary.  Students have fun while playing and before they know it BOOM! Vocabulary is engraved on their brains.

The goal of teaching a language is to get students communicating in that language. Our job as teachers is to make sure we give students the tools they need in order to be successful in the communication process.  It is our responsibility to keep student motivated in that process. That is where games come into play (enjoy that pun?).

Games benefit students because they

  1. Banish boredom in the classroom
  2. Allow for repetition of terms
  3. Provide opportunity for quick absorption of many words
  4. Break up the monotony of the school day

Let’s face it, games provide a learning environment that is student-centered allowing for communication in the target language, discovery, problem-solving, engagement and analysis of their own knowledge in the learning process.  Simply put games are FUN and EDUCATIONAL.

So how do you implement games in your classroom?

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Be motivated and hype it up

If you are bored, unmotivated, or are simply uninterested in an activity your students will feed off that.  They too will be turned-off with the activity.  When beginning a game, hype it up. Use a bigger voice, bigger gestures, colorful language…however you explain rules make it enticing.  The class tone is set by you the teacher.  The entire class environment is feeding off of you.  I often play the game myself to show them how fun it is.  This isn’t always possible if I have to monitor.  However, if it is possible, join in the fun.

Keep it on point

When choosing a game for the class make sure it is applicable to the unit. The reason we play these games is to provide the opportunity to review or use repetition of the vocabulary for memorization of terms. Keep vocabulary useful to what you want students to be learning.  If you are teaching clothing, the game should revolve around terms used for clothing.

Be encouraging

As students learn, they will inevitably make mistakes and that is OK. I can assure you missing a point in a game or getting the team sent back to zero because of not knowing the meaning of a sign will be a great learning opportunity. A student will never forget that word. How we handle the mistake as a teacher is important. Be encouraging and let students know its ok if they mess up, blunder, or completely bomb the task.  Let them know it is no big deal.  Through mistakes and failure is how we learn.   

Provide learning opportunities

If you see common errors happening during game time, seize the teaching moment and correct the errors.  After all, that is why we are playing games.  Don’t let the students continue to make the error. Students will learn from each other and before you know it they will all be making the same mistake.  Let’s say that you are in a game situation and the word is WOMAN.  You continue to see students using the sign for MAN. This is a good chance to remind students about placement of feminine and masculine signs.  

Vary the games played

If you only have one or two games in your repertoire, it’s time to shake things up and learn some new games to incorporate in your lessons.  The student’s favorite game will become stale and dull if you continue to use it and nothing else.  A game should elicit excitement when mentioned.  You can use the same set of words in 2 – 3 different games so students get various stimuli.  For example, you can play Win, Lose or Draw when learning words for buildings found around the school campus to draw in the visual learner and later use the same terms to play Baseball or Basketball to get the kinesthetic learners up and moving around.

Keep all students involved

Whatever games you choose to play try to pick the ones that involve all the students at one time.  Often times we play elimination games where students are “out”  if they don’t know the answer.  If this is the case, try to revamp the game so those “out” have a way back in. This way students are always “on task” and not chatting with their neighbor who is also out of the game. Incorporate games that are small group or one on one competition so students are always active and learning.  Remember your game should have a purpose to provide repetition of vocabulary to all students.  Not just the high achieving ones.   

Provide rewards

Most of the time a game is reward enough and something students look forward to.  But students like to know that they are victorious. Offer a small token that can symbolize a student’s bragging rights.  Ask parents to donate small prizes like pencils or individually wrapped candy, provide a free homework pass for the victor, or the chance to sit anywhere they want for the day.  You can even set up a winner’s circle with a special chair and snacks for the champion. Let them wear a crown! You can offer points to the winner but I try to avoid this practice. I want a student’s grade to reflect their work and what they can do.  I want to try to avoid “padding” their grade. That is my personal opinion.

Whatever you choose to do for a reward, whoop it up and give the winner a sense of achievement!

I hope these ideas for using games in the classroom help you have some fun with your students.  My next post will incorporate games you can play in the classroom. Stay tuned…

What are your thoughts about games in the classroom?