If you don’t know about Kahoot, please go check it out. It is super easy to play one with your class and if you know me, I don’t share anything here that isn’t very practical.
We play Kahoots all the time. Some I make for the class and some I just grab from the millions that are already out there. But my favorite thing to do is to take the paper templates and ask my students to come up with Kahoot questions.
This flips the activity so that the students are doing the creating. The templates have a place for an illustration which supports writing for all levels of ELs. We made a class Selfie Kahoot at the beginning of the school year that went a long way toward building community and getting to know each other.
Just before the holiday break, I gave each student a paper template to come up with one fact about how they celebrate a special holiday in their country or culture. Many of my students are coming from countries with conflict and they liked to be able to show something nice about their country and customs. It was fascinating to see what the kids eat in Venezuela on Christmas! Who knew that many families in the Congo go to church on Christmas, they eat cake and dance in the evening. And all of our Muslim students stumped us with dates and customs about Ramadan and Eid al-Adha.
I wish you could have seen their pride when they saw their questions come up in the game.
Now that would have been great enough. But thanks to the world of Twitter and Facebook, we were able to share this Kahoot with teachers all over the world. And not only did we share it… classrooms that played it connected with us to tell us what an enriching experience it was for them. See this tweet from the awesome Ms. Francis whose class played even though they are over 1,000 miles away She sent a video clip!
— Emily Francis (@emilyfranESL) December 21, 2016
So great, right? And all I did was make a quick Kahoot and share it. Thank you, Emily Francis! What a fun thing for us to see!
But that’s not all! Another amazing outcome from this one Kahoot was that Ms. Krayvenger’s class in Maryland not only played (and she said her kiddos LOVED it and pulled out the world map right away) they also sent us some questions. Now, let’s remember that I work with newcomers and several are SIFE (minimal or interrupted formal education). So you might think that this is going to be a challenge for us to respond. Not at all. They were so awestruck that these children almost 1500 miles away wanted to know things about them! They were so interested in responding that I decided to introduce some new tech tools while I had everyone’s undivided attention – Google Docs and Edmodo. (I’m going with Edmodo because this class uses Facebook a lot to communicate with family back home – it is just so similar that I think this is a good place to communicate for students new to tech) They logged into Edmodo to get the link to the Google Doc so we could share one document to respond. My students spent so much time with bilingual dictionaries, translators and what English they had learned to be able to respond.
I want to thank Ms. Francis and Ms. Krayvenger for connecting with us. I can’t tell you what this did for a group of students new to our country who sometimes feel marginalized. It honored us all so much!
Here is the letter we turned around to Ms. Krayvenger’s super fantastic 4th graders. I will forever be grateful to them!
Newcomers writing so much without being forced to do so! For me, the big take away here is that I can’t underestimate the power of motivation. Real world relevancy is like gold because it changes everything for a learner. We know that authentic language production is key to learning your L2. And we know that games are engaging. And we know that culturally responsive lessons are vital to the health of a diverse classroom.
I don’t share lessons that flop (for obvious reasons). But this one was no flop. I’m thrilled to share it because thanks to my PLN, it was a home-run. And I hope it inspires you to try Kahoot and then try letting your students come up with some questions so you (or they) might make one about who they are. If you do… send it to us so we can play it! I bet my students would have some follow up questions. 😉
Happy Holidays all year long!