Episode 38: Captivating, Competitive, and Collaborative FUN!

brain breaks podcast review Mar 22, 2023
brain breaks

OMG! I needed to feel motivated and inspired before recording for you this week and that "inspiration" hit me like a ton of bricks this morning! SO freaking excited to share this way to "gamify" a reading/listening comprehension activity with you!

Here are the resources/links mentioned in this episode:

Video of kids PLAYING  Pass it up... the visual HELPS SO MUCH!

Señor Wooly (freaking obsessed)

Breathing Brain Breaks resource

Breathing Brain Break Blog

Connect with me:

My Blog

My YouTube

My Instagram

My Website 

My TPT store



Welcome to Teaching la vida loca, a podcast for World Language Teachers seeking inspiration, unapologetic authenticity and guidance in centering joy, and facilitating language acquisition for the people who matter most our students. I'm your host Annabelle, most people call me la maestra loca, and I'm an educator just like you and inspiring teachers is what I do.

Feeling Unmotivated 

Oh my gosh, y'all I literally last night wanted to record a podcast, and I was feeling so inspiration less and unmotivated and wasn't even sure what you would want to hear. And then all of a sudden, it hit me like a ton of bricks this morning. I am doing a game with my classes today. And I was like, I've never blogged about this or podcast it, and it's going so well. I need to tell the world because oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, you're going to love it. Let's start by giving credit where credit's due because that's so important and people don't do it enough. I learned this activity from Senor Wooly from Jim Wooldridge. And I believe somebody on his team, I think maybe even Carrie. I'm not certain, somebody on the Wooly team created this activity, or came up with this activity for wooly week several years ago. And I am such a Wooly fan. If you've been following me for a while, you know that already. My recent favorite workshop is literally titled, "Senor Wooly Oh, how I love thee. Let me count the ways", and I talk about how I stretch and milk Wooly's curriculum to make it about so much more than just the videos and I spiral in current events and cultural things. And anyways, I just think that it's such a good springboard for so many different things because the videos themselves are such great hooks for our students. So anywho, I got this activity from a Wooly week idea several years ago. I'm recording this and we're currently in the Wooly week time. It's not a week anymore. It's like eight weeks or something crazy. But I am super excited. I haven't even checked out all the amazing new activities that I know are happening right now. Because I know when I check them out, that's all I want to do.

Exciting Activity! 

This activity was created to help review and do listening and reading comprehension after a song, but I use it all the time for other things for reading activities for listening activities. And that's just another testament to Wooly and how amazing it is because you can learn things from his content and apply it to other things in your classroom. Okay, have I said it enough about how much I love Jim Wooldridge. Okay.

What I’m Doing… 

Let me tell you about what I'm doing today. I am so freaking excited because it is going so well. I'm actually recording this on my lunch break because I was like, let me tell the world I am playing “pass it up” today. And I'm playing it in a different way than I've ever done before. Because normally, I play “pass it up” with clip chats where I have images of you know, from a clip chat screenshots and sentences printed out. So, let me tell you, I don't even know. I'm so excited. I don't even know where to start. Okay, okay, let me just take a breath. Let me pause it, take a breath, and think about how I want to record this. Okay, I have written notes, which I never do for recording podcasts. It's always like off the dome, making it up as I go. But I wrote notes so that I can be more focused and intentional for you because my brain.

Playing It 

Okay, so “pass it up” is a great listening comprehension and reading comprehension game. You can play it as either. It is awesome for seeing lots of competitive like the competition. I am super intentional with all of my games, to preface with the fact that I am looking for teamwork, collaboration and good sportsmanship, because my students know that they get points for that. I'll talk about the points a little bit later. But it's a really intensely fun game. And it was one that I played in the middle of last year with, in February or March is when I pulled this out of my pocket again last year, with my incredibly apathetic challenging behavior, like a nightmare eighth grade class. I had a couple of them but my one that like literally made my life a living hell every day. Literally. I pulled out this game and all of a sudden everybody freaking loved it. It was a great class. In fact, I have some of that class filmed and posted on YouTube. So, I will share that link with you in the show notes.

What You Need To Play 

So, what you need for this activity is you need sentences and photos, you need sentences in your target language of whatever it is you want to review. It could be you did a story with a clip chat, and you want images from your clip chat and sentences from that clip chat. Disclaimer, I do not play in the same way that I think you're supposed to play. According to Team Wooly, whoever created this game, whether it was Carrie Toth, or somebody on his team, intended it to be played a different way. I don't even remember that way because it didn't work for my brain. And my brain just functions differently. So, this is how I play. This is my version of “pass it up”. Hopefully that's clear. So, images from whatever you did and sentences, could you do just sentences? Absolutely. So, your sentences are in the target language that's really important. And you need however many sets so that each team has an equal set of these. I typically have three teams in my biggest classes last year of like 33 Kids, I had four teams. So, you decide how big you want your teams to be, my class sizes are much smaller this year. So, I still am doing three teams, and it's about six or seven people on each team. Now you want the sets to be identical. So, every single team has the exact same set of sentences as the other and pictures, you want the sentences chopped up. So, they're cut into slivers and slices, and chunked out. So, there's not just on one piece of paper. Now, you the next thing you need is the team creation. Right? So, to preface with this game, I explained the game with as much target language as I could, while showing a video of my eighth graders playing. 

The Teams 

So, I would talk about it, play the video, pause it, talk about what's happening next, play the video, pause it talk about what's happening next. So, they had visual to help with it. It was also awesome, because at this time of the year, even though I have novice students, they really are at a place where I can explain everything that's happening in the game in Spanish and asked for them to clarify in English in 10 seconds or less. And they can do that. So that's great. The way I coordinate the team set up is I have them all sitting in their seats. And then I just point to a section of the floor where I want them to sit on because they're sitting on the floor in one single file, each team. So, one person behind the other all facing the front of the class. So, I just point, okay, and point in one section of the floor and I say Gemma, go here, Abraham, go here, Jamal, go here, right. And so, they're all divided into three different teams. But I'm intentional about the names I'm calling, they don't necessarily know that you can do this in advance, or you know your kids well enough, probably by this time of the year, especially if you're on an annual scale, you're not like seeing kids by semester or by quarter, you definitely know your kids well enough to do this off that like in the moment. I sort so that my students have equal ability or very close ability levels will be lined up at the front of the line and at the back of the line at the same time, because you're competing with the teams are competing against each other. But ultimately, at any given point, you're going to be competing with a student at the back of the room to read fastest or to recognize a photo fastest. So, I like to line them up so they're going to be of similar ability level. Now my students don't know that. They think it's totally random, right?

What They’re Looking For 

So, you're calling names. You have them in the different groupings, and they sit in the order that you tell them. Then at the back of your classroom, so they're facing forward, the very last person in each row is given the stack of papers. I tell them to remember what order I put them in, it's okay if they don't, because I can just really quickly replace them. And I tell them, Okay, as a team work together to fan out all these papers because they need to be able to see all the sentences and all the photos laid out at the back in the classroom. So, it's very easy to see what they're looking at and pass it up. Okay. They get back into their row order. And what happens is I call out a sentence. If I speak in Spanish, they know they're looking for the picture that matches what I am saying. So, if I say ella esta obsesionada con el luchador, she is obsessed with the wrestler. They know the person at the back of the row is looking for the photo that matches that they're looking for a girl who's obsessed with the wrestler, maybe she's looking at the wrestler or something like that. As soon as they find that photo, they're passing it to the person in front of them, who passes it to the person in front of them who passes it to the person in front of them, and so on so forth till it reaches the front of the line.

What’s Next 

That person hops up and can do one of two different things before when I had a giant whiteboard in my room, and that's the video that you'll see kids would attach that picture to the whiteboard with a magnet. And so, it was a race to see which team could get that image to the front of the class first, right. And then they stepped back for me to like, score it. The other way that I did now because I have two whiteboards on two different sides of the class, and it wouldn't have been fair, I stand in different locations in the classroom every time I say a sentence. So, their goal was the first person in line had to run when they get the paper and get it in my hands first. And I again was alternating where I was standing so that it was fair for each team. Okay, then soon as I have them in my hand, or as soon as they're on the whiteboard, I give points. There are lots of different ways you can earn points in this game.

How To Look For Sentences 

Before I tell you about the points, I want to tell you about the other way, the way they're looking for the sentence. There's two different ways to do this. If I say I'll tell you the way I'm doing it today, if I say a sentence in English, they're looking for that sentence in Spanish. So, if I say el luchador estaba realmente asustado de la chica, the wrestler was really scared of the girl. If I say that, then I know my students are looking for the picture. But if I say it in English, if I say the, the wrestler was really scared of the girl, they're looking for that sentence that I just said, in Spanish, they're looking for the sentence. And that's what they pass forward. This is where pass it up becomes interesting and entertaining. What the people in line are supposed to be doing is instead of just passing whatever forward, they're supposed to be checking their peers work, they're supposed to be reading, they're supposed to be making sure that the sentence being passed forward, or the photo being passed forward is the correct one. Because if it's not, they should pass it backwards. Sometimes they get so hyped, that they forget to check their work. And then the image that gets posted on the board or handed to me is wrong. And then they panic and try and get it back to pass backwards. So, it's really positive when you can praise them for reading and checking their work as they're passing it forward. So let me so that's what they're looking for. For example, today, I'll give you all the variations of this game at the end, because I'm trying to follow my notes to be very focused for you.

Giving Points 

You can imagine how hype this gets and how exciting it is, it is all of the things you're imagining. And if you need a visual again, go check out that YouTube video because it is really intensely competitive and super fun. I am going to talk about the points now. There are five or six different ways to get points in this game. If you play it my way…The first way to get points is good sportsmanship. So that means that if you are on the losing team, you are still celebrating with the winners. If you are on the winning team, you are supporting and encouraging the other teams, I make it cheesy. It starts out as forced. Absolutely. But then it becomes funny and joyful and genuine and real and authentic. They can be competitive, but still supportive of other teams. The teamwork is another way to earn good points. So, if I see them, like being encouraging to each other and on their team, oh, it's okay, if they didn't pass it up fast enough, but they're not like doing it in a negative way. They know they get points for that. They can also get points by reading. If I see them passing it up and reading as they go. They might not be the first person to have it in my hands. But they get points because I saw everybody on their team reading. How hungry is that right? There's not only one person at the back of the room reading. That's brilliant. I know. You get points, obviously for being the first team to have it in my hands. But that's only one bonus point. You can get three bonus points if I saw everybody reading in line. And then of course you get a point for having it correct. Even if you were the slowest team to get it to me if that sentence was correct. You get a point. There's also a bonus point option. Look at me with all the points y'all points. It’s a huge gamification. In fact, we were talking about it last night in familia loca. One of my members Jess was did her like grad studies on dopamine in children's brains and the power of gamifying things. It's like it's real. So, bonus point for resetting. The resetting was so freaking important when I was teaching my height middle schoolers, and I thought it was going to be essential today with my elementary, but it really wasn't essential. Everybody was earning the bonus point. The bonus point comes, as soon as I've given them a score, they have to reset. Now if they handed me the papers, I put them down in the spot where I was standing that way, it's still fair and equitable for every team. And then I say the word reset, the person that was at the front of the line quickly grabs the paper, moves to the very back of their line, and the whole line of scooches is forward, they all move up, so that now they're in a different place in the line, and the person that was at the front is now at the back. And they've put that paper back down where it's supposed to go. The first team to do this and be on a level zero, level zero means silent, then they get a bonus point.

Changing The Game 

So, my elementary were so good at it, and they were so eager and excited my middle schoolers, it was the only way I could get them to come down from being so hype, because it's really intense and a really fun game. So those are all the different ways that you can earn points. And now I want to talk about a couple of ways to make this game novel. Obviously, as soon as they've bumped up now there's a new person reading at the back. Again, if you've lined them up in an order where your higher students are going to be lined up at the same time at the back. That's great, because you can make the sentences more complex. To remix this or make it more novel, another thing you could do is do a gap fill. I've done this before, instead of having pictures in sentences, you can just have sentences at the back. But they're incomplete sentences. It's either the beginning of the sentence or the end of the sentence. And what you are going to say at the at the front of the room is you're going to start saying a sentence in Spanish. And they're going to look for the ending of that sentence. Again, this is to review whatever content you've been working on. Right? So, if you've done a story together, you created a TPR story, you acted it out. And now you're reviewing that story. You could say something in Spanish, and they might be looking for the sentence that says the rest, whatever, you know, I don't know, I don't know what you're what stories you're creating, you get the idea that you're either saying the end of the sentence or the beginning of the sentence, and they're looking for the sentence that complete it, or like the piece of the sentence that would make it a complete sentence. That way, you're all saying in Spanish. And that is definitely more challenging than just translating, right, that's one of my favorites. And you could also post a picture on the board or a sentence on the board. This requires more prep though, you could post a picture or sentence on the board, and they are all reading. And then the person at the back is looking for the sentence that matches that picture that they're looking at, or the picture that matches the sentence they're looking at and passing that forward. But that way the whole class is tricked into reading. So that's a good way to do it. And again, it takes more prep time. So, I didn't do that version today. Another way to do this, to make it novel, is you can have the people at the front of the line with the photos in front of them. And the people at the back of the line with the sentences. If you do this version, you need to make sure that the sentences match the photos, that there is a photo and a sentence that matches. The person at the front of the line is listening to you speak in English, or Spanish rather. And they're looking for the image that matches what you say. And the person at the back of the line is looking for the sentence. But again, that's just showing that they understand what the Spanish are saying and you're looking for the reading. So, it's another way to make a novel. Is it as challenging? No, not necessarily.

Great Way to Review 

Again, all of this is a great way to review to show us for students to show you that they're understanding you, for students to show what they comprehended from the story, what they remember from the story. And Dang it, y'all we need ways to teach make it through the rest of this year. This is a really fun and joyful thing to do. So fun and joyful that I was like I need to podcast about this right now. So, I have taken almost the entire tea of my 25-minute lunch to tell you about this but I am glad that I did because I really am so excited for you to try this in your own classrooms. Before I go let's do a little brain break.

Brain Break 

I am confident that I've talked about breathing brain breaks before in another episode. I have a freebie. If you want to download my breathing Brain Breaks freebie that gives you access to lots of different videos. You can find that link in my show notes but right now what I want you to do to help me level out before I go get my next class is cup your hands like a bowl like you're holding a bowl in front of you and then smell soup. Pretend there's soup in there and smell it. Breathing in deeply. Savor it for a second before you blow it out. And then blow out your breath so you're blowing on the soup. Do that again with me. Savor it, blow your breath out and blow down, blow on that soup to cool it down one more time. Thank you so much for doing that breathing brain break with me. I'm looking at it right now. I'm recording this on my Take a Break Spot my Chill Zone in my classroom. And that is one of the Guided Breathing activities I have right here. I should make that a resource for y'all. I should really do that. I'm going to do that. Have a great rest of your day whenever you're listening to this, whether you're listening to this at night, in the morning on your drive, take care of yourself. Until next time, I'll be teaching La Vida Loca. Oh, I should end the brain breaks first off because it will not be complete without ending the brain breaks down, hold on. See that feels so much better. Okay. And now I will wrap up by saying until next time I will be teaching la vida loca, and I am sure you will be too. Take care. Bye bye.

Thank You! 

Hey there, if you love this episode, you already know what I'm going to ask you to do. Please take a selfie, take a screenshot. Take something of you listening to it and post it on your social media. Share it with a friend tell somebody that they should go and listen to it too. It helps me, it helps Google recognize me as legit. It helps my self-esteem and my confidence, and it'll make me so excited. Make sure you tag me if you share it on social at La Maestra Loca and thank you for everything you do to support me and to support this podcast. You're the best. No for real. You're awesome. Thank you, teacher.

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