viernes, 26 de abril de 2013

Rewards in the Secondary Classroom?

I play a number of games in my classroom, or at minimum incorporate numerous game-like activities, and as a result, I do not use or give my students rewards for "winning." However, recently I have been wondering if using rewards on the occasion would be beneficial. Here are the reasons I have for not using rewards in the classroom:

- I want my students to partake in my classroom activities or games with the understanding that the reward is solidifying and learning the material, while being happily engaged in class.

- I would prefer that the activity is about the information and not the competition (although, here I must add that plenty of the games or game-like activities that I use are not super competitive).

- I don't want students to play/participate only because they are expecting a reward at the end.

- I don't want a student to hesitate to participate for fear of making his/her team lose out on a reward.

- I personally don't want the pressure of determining, keeping track of, and paying for the rewards.

- I want my students to learn to take joy in the classroom activities without needing an extrinsic motivator to make it worth their while.

What about you? Do you use rewards in your language classroom? What are the pros and cons in your opinion?

lunes, 15 de abril de 2013


I think that along with having students as engaged in class as possible, movement can and should play a large role in the language classroom. I am not necessarily saying that one must be a TPRS expert in order have a great language classroom because I am certainly not an expert in this area, but opportunities should be created for students to move and interact. Here are some of the ways that I have students move (and often speak) in my classroom.

Inside/outside circle- I have also heard this format called a choo choo train or a wheel and spoke format.  Half of the class is assigned to different spots in the room and the other half faces the outer circle. For my beginning Spanish students, I give an easy speaking prompt: tell your partner five things that you did yesterday; describe yourself in 20 words; describe a movie or a book that you saw/read recently; say what you ate for breakfast; talk about your favorite activities in elementary school. etc.

With older students, the prompts can become more complex: compare the school's recycling program to your habits at home; describe the ideal candidate for student council; describe your ideal prom date; compare your study habits with your partner's; describe your ideal college; etc.

Cocktail Party- Once again, there are many activities that can be run in cocktail party style. Some ideas include: putting a word, celebrity, famous painting, building, etc. on the student's back and have them survey their classmates at random until they are able to guess the item on their back. Another option, is to have advanced students write their own questions about a topic that has been studied, and conduct an informal survey of their classmates that is then reported back to the class. For example, in the environmental unit, I asked my upper level students to write their own questions regarding their interactions with the environment, living green, time spent in nature, etc.

Role Play/Improvisation: I will often create a series of conversation cards that pertain to the unit that we are studying, then at the beginning or ending of class, a few students will be selected to choose a card at random and act out the conversation. Later in the year, I ask the students to create their own conversation task cards and the conversations often become much more exciting!

Fun elementary school activities that involve movement:
Scavenger hunt- Spring is a great time for students to do a scavenger hunt inside the school building, outside during recess (if permitted), or even just in the classroom.  I will ask students to look for letter sounds, specific vocabulary words, or different patterns.

Duck Duck Goose (or grey duck) Everyone seems to love this game, and it can be modified for lots of different vocabulary practices. For example, once students know colors, they could have to say different animals for each person, or any other series of vocabulary words, as long as the "trigger" for running has been previously established.

What time is it Mr. Fox? Once again, a favorite game that can easily be converted into Spanish, and played in the classroom. If students have already learned time, they can ask the fox other questions. What color are you wearing? and advance a step for each question asked.

The possibilities are endless for connecting movement and learning! What do you do in your classroom?