**Updated 11.20.19 with new The Septem Game rules**
**Check out the companion post on Getting Texts!**
When choosing the class agenda beyond each particular day’s routine, it dawned on me that I couldn’t remember all my favorite activities. Thus, here are the input-based strategies & activities I’ve collected over the years, all in one place. Although this began as only reading activities, I decided that it didn’t matter as much whether students were reading or listening. Why? These input-based activities start with some kind of text either way, so beyond variety, what really matters most to me when planning for class is providing students with input, and what kind of prep goes into getting the text/activity. Everything is organized by prep, whether no instructions, no prep, printing only, or low prep. You won’t find prep-intensive activities here beyond typing, copying, and cutting paper. Oh, and for ways to get that one text to start, try here. Enjoy!
**N.B. Any activity with the word “translation” in it means translating what is already understood. This should NOT be confused with the more conventional practice of translating in order to understand.**
In its debut year, Comprehensible Online offered a different kind of PD, allowing participants to watch as many presentations over three weeks as they could from their computers and phones. #pdinpajamas was trending for many teachers sneaking in loads of PD from the comfort of their own home. In fact, I was able to watch most videos during my part-time job (shhh)!
Like other conference takeaways, I’ll consult this post over the years, and the info will be here to share with all. I have a code system to help me spot new things to try, and others to update. High-leverage strategies I consider “non-negotiable” for my own teaching are “NN.” Strategies to update or re-implement are “Update!,” and those I’d like to try for the first time are “New!” I encourage you to give them all a try. Here are the takeaways from some of the presentations I got to, organized by presenter:
Teachers fall into a routine, often focusing on a particular strategy for a while because a) they want to hone their skill, b) it’s magically engaging for students, or c) both. During that period of focus, however, other teaching practices tend to get left behind. The holiday break is good time to take a look at what has NOT been going on in the classroom. For me, it’s been Brain Breaks. Annabelle Allen would be ashamed of me!
It’s true, though. Looking back to just before the holiday break, I’ve been doing just one Brain Break, and there were even days when I did zero due to an activity involving somemovement. There’s no excuse for neglecting Brain Breaks, though, and there’s no rationale behind substituting them with other activities. I need to get back on this horse…
After listening to Annabelle Allen on episode 4 of Teachers That Teach, I’m interested in using more Brain Breaks that are shorter.
Despite how awesome some Brain Breaks can be, like Evolution (i.e. the rock/paper/scissor variation of egg–>fledgling–>dragon etc., most of my high school students are “too cool for school” to do a lot of them. Annabelle’s advice of “just do it anyway because he brain of those who don’t participate is still getting a break” only works if there are few who don’t. Even though I warned my students that they’d wear out their favorite ball-tossing Brain Break, “Mumball,” they didn’t listen and now we’ve killed it. At this point, nearly half the class chooses to just sit instead of participating. So, instead of coming back from the Brain Break re-energized for more Latin, energy has dropped to an unacceptable level, at least for the rigor needed to sustain focus in a second language. It’s time for novel, shorter Brain Breaks.
Stand in a circle, and in place begin stepping side to side at a comfy 70 to 80 bpm (beats per minute) to establish a group tempo. This should feel more like a dance and less like a march. Begin a pattern together, call and response, this side/that side, and/or individuals add on to the pattern—the sky’s the limit!
This shouldn’t get old as fast as other Brain Breaks because of so much variation. Remember, you can tap, clap, snap, rub hands together, and use your thighs, arms, etc. to make sounds. You could also count in the target language (e.g. “ūnus” <step, step, step> “ūnus” <step, step, step> etc.).