I can't stop thinking about all of the extra work teachers are putting in this year.
I can’t help but notice it feels like we are giving more of ourselves for less return. We are putting more energy into planning, contacting families, and learning new platforms. We are giving more, and seeing less of the rewards of our work. And I don’t mean that students aren’t working hard, or that it isn’t worth it. It’s just that it is harder to make our usual connections through a screen, and those moments that fill us up seem to be rarer; and therefore even more precious.
Teaching has always been demanding. But teaching in 2020 (and yes, 2021) is a whole new ballgame.
I know that it’s exhausting to plan different activities for your various groups of learners right now; many of us need one activity for the in-person students and another for the students learning from home. Not only is it hard to plan and keep track of it all, but it’s even more difficult to get these students to actually interact with one another. During the year when it matters the most, it’s the most challenging to build our normal sense of community.
What if it doesn’t have to be that way? What if we can engage ALL students, together, in the same activity? Can pairs and small groups can include a mix of “roomies” and “zoomies?” YES, they can! You’ve got this. And I’ve got you.
Keep reading to catch a glance at the activities teachers are having the most success with right now. I designed each activity below specifically for this unique year; a year filled with changing classroom environments and the need for making connections with our students. I hope you find something new to try, to feel reinvigorated during this impossibly demanding year.
First Up: Panal de Preguntas
Panal de Preguntas is a digital game meant for partners or small groups, but can also be completed individually without the competition aspect.
Students play with digital game pieces and also type directly into the document. They have the opportunity to meet their own goals, but are also tempted to block their opponents along the way. Read more below!
I made this version of Panal de Preguntas by request! There are a handful of game sets in my store for the present, preterite, future, and conditional tenses, as well as some vocab-specific sets.
How to play: Students take turns choosing a space to claim. They click on the space and are brought to a prompt; they then type directly into the digital game to respond to the prompt! After answering (you decide whether to provide an answer key, check responses, or have peers be the judges), they move their digital game pieces to claim the corresponding space on the game board. Students work to get 3 in a row or diagonally, while also trying to block their opponents. Everything is done digitally so students can play with someone in the same room or with a student learning remotely! There is no trouble if one student is in the room while another is at home joining via a device.
I added a walkthrough video that was originally meant for teachers, but I’ve heard from a few teachers that they’ve been playing that video instead of going over the instructions themselves. I love that! Click here to take a closer look at the version shown above. You can see the editable versions of this game here (normal and GRANDE game board), and all of the ready-made versions I have for you are right here.
I always want to offer editable templates when possible so teachers can customize their own unique game boards again and again!
For Panal de Preguntas, I designed editable templates in two different game board sizes each with 8 design/color options. The original game board has 15 spaces. After hearing from a few teachers that their students had fun and wanted to play for a longer amount of time, I designed the GRANDE game board that has 24 spaces 🙂
I love that this game can be played by two students in the same room, or by students in different locations.
I hope you and your students have fun! Happy creating!
Next Up: Taco Tuesday -- a class favorite every year
What? Taco Tuesday is a DIGITAL game!? If you didn’t know… now you do! ALL of my Taco Tuesday games have been updated and are ready for digital gameplay.
You can still play each game on paper, or use the digital game pieces I have included along with the detailed walkthrough for digital gameplay.
To learn about playing digitally, visit this post!
And if you’d like to download your own copy of this Cognates version, sign up to get it delivered to your inbox (with other exclusive resources) right here! You will also receive various support videos to help you adapt your games for your unique classes.
Taco Tuesday is a great activity because you can play for almost any length of time and you can differentiate for ANY level and skill set. I have a detailed tutorial for traditional play right here; try it out and see why my students love it so much each year! You decide the amount of target language use, the difficulty of the clues, the pace of the game, and more. It is so easy to differentiate between levels and adapt the game to engage all learners.
If you haven’t tried traditional or digital Taco Tuesday yet, what are you waiting for!? Again, you can read about how students play digitally right here, and find differentiation options and more ideas for traditional play here. Teachers have told me they love the digital updates because they can keep their Taco Tuesday tradition during an otherwise *very* unique year.
You can see all of the Taco Tuesday games I have ready to go, or take a look at the editable digital game templates if you’d like to make your own games again and again! The templates provide various game sizes for even more differentiation possibilities.
I have included walkthrough videos for digital play in every Taco Tuesday resource 🙂 If you would like more support and additional video walkthroughs for digital gameplay, you can sign up for my Taco Tuesday newsletter.
Every pre-made Taco Tuesday game has been updated and is completely digital ready. If you had purchased one previously, PLEASE download your update to see these new digital features! Have fun!!
Struggling with Reluctant Participants? ¿Mano o Manos? will be your new favorite activity.
I knew I needed a new approach to help students feel comfortable enough to turn their cameras on. ¿Mano o Manos? was my solution. It stemmed from a very simple idea, and became a very effective strategy.
With options for participating with cameras on or off, this activity focuses on INPUT with very low pressure output. My goal of course is more cameras on, but I always offer a cameras-off option for students who may not be comfortable.
¿Mano o Manos? is great for building confidence, sparking discussion, building a sense of community, and more. It can be used as an opener, a break break, or to seal the end of a class with a valuable discussion. Read on to learn more!
Mano o Manos was actually the first activity I designed to support students participating via camera this school year. The main idea is that students express their feelings about a statement/question based on holding up one hand or two on camera. The hand(s) they raise represent their answer chosen from options on the screen; OR, they hold up a closed fist to express that they have an additional answer to share. I love that students are given an opportunity for output, but without any pressure.
Let’s be honest; I know that students are very hesitant to turn their cameras on. If you are facing this struggle, you are not alone. I have heard from a few teachers on social media that this is the only activity that gets them to turn them on (!!!!) – my guess is because it’s so low pressure and provides lots of comprehensible input with very little demand for output.
For students who truly don’t want to be on camera, there is a *cameras off* option included in the instructions. (Students will just type 1, 2, or 3 in the chat rather than holding up their hands.)
You can see all pre-made sets here. I have editable templates available for this activity as well, again, because I know that teachers like to differentiate their activities so they are *just right* for their very own classes. I get it. I’ve got you. The templates have four different designs in case you’d like to differentiate between classes or units.
Wrapping things up, literally: Digital and editable openers and exit tickets
I am noticing more and more that editable templates are what teachers need (and want). Templates mean you can truly customize for your own unique classes each and every year. You can adjust for specific vocabulary terms or phrases, and truly make the activities your own.
These editable openers and reflections provide a wide variety of options: multiple choice, quick reading comprehension, group discussion, and more. I know these will save you time every single week – and I see them being a staple after virtual learning as well.
I designed this template bundle to help teachers engage the students in class as well as the students at home. I know that balancing the two groups at once is hard enough; having ONE comprehensive activity for all learners is one way to lessen the burden for teachers.
There are 80 editable slides total – I have included options with locked aspects to protect formatting, or open formatting so you can add/remove options and REALLY add your own spin. I hope the templates save you time and help build consistency with your students during this year that has been anything but consistent.
You've got this, PROFE.
I hope these ideas can help you in the coming weeks! Many schools are moving back and forth between hybrid and remote, while many others are moving to full time in person. When in person, social distancing is still essential and I hope these digital activities can help you continue to have FUN while doing what you must to keeping your students safe. I think we can all agree this is the most stressful year for all teachers and students, and my goal is to take some of the load off your shoulders while creating activities that our students will enjoy. We need these small moments of joy.
Hang in there, profes. I see you.