Technology success

We had the lab today. I am happy…

We had read chapter 8 of New Houdini in Russian Intermediate yesterday. I took to heart the kids’ complaint that I had been dragging them through the book. They said that the repetition was making them learn, but that they enjoyed the reading only the first time.

So I had an assignment that I can use only once a quarter, I think…

I told them that they need to practice typing to be getting ready for the AP Russian test (it’s true, but obviously not all will take it).

They had to find and type (in Cyrillic) the ten sentences that told the whole story of the chapter. They called me over if they finished. I corrected any typos with them (they type a в instead of a б; that sort of thing, except for the kids who don’t know that Russian has capital letters to begin sentences…huh??).

Then and only then I would tell them that they could make a PowerPoint slide to illustrate each sentence.

This was much better than telling them that the final project was a PP, because then they all do the bells and whistles first and the writing second. It required them to re-read and find sentences that gave a complete picture, and it required them to write correctly. It might not be the coolest thing, and it looks like a lot of our projects, but it kept them rereading the whole period. I have to look back at our list of ways to get kids to re-read.

Here’s a link to the project that is my favorite of the bunch. If you know New Houdini, chapter 8 (in which Brandon and Jamie get locked out of the car after they’re surprised by the grandmother’s being there), you’ll be able to understand the pictures, even if you don’t know Russian.


9 responses to “Technology success

  1. I liked how you tricked them into reading. I’ve done similar activities and then had them draw the sentences/actions for the chapter. I did Houdini 3rd quarter and by Chapter 8, the kids really do want to just finish the book without repetitions. Great idea!


  2. Awesome! Thank you! This is just like Robert Harrell’s “Essential Sentence” but in a tech-ified mode. I will use this soon! Was just about to have kids do the regular paper/sketch version, but this will seem like more fun and somehow more “official!” And…won’t this qualify for my school’s new requirement to have something for the “digital portfolio?” Hmmm…. 🙂


  3. Thank YOU! I meant to give credit to Robert and forgot.

    I was looking in the Vary-the-Routine category, and didn’t find a game I was looking for. I think it was one in which kids in groups write questions for their group members. They get one point for each question they write, leaving space on the paper for answers. If it’s a viable question and no one can answer it, they get an extra point (teacher is the referee). If someone answers it, that person gets a point, and if the question writer verifies that it is a correct answer, it’s two points. In my room, they’d have to play on the floor, since I have no desks.

    It’s a twice-a-year game. I’d like to do it with a group in which I need some quiet!


  4. and here….drum roll…are the original notes on this game, found in a comment from way earlier on this blog!

    “Jason gives a cube with the question words on it to kids in small groups (I used pairs or threes). They throw it in turns, and then ask a question with that word. It’s really no different from the teacher doing it, but that means they have to re-read the section to figure out a question, and the others have to re-read to answer.

    I asked them do it in written format only…no talking…just passing papers. My kids loved it, for some odd reason. Jason said they would. He also said that this is one of the games you can only play once a semester, so as not to “use it up.””


  5. Hi Michele, I have a tech question that doesn’t exactly relate to your project (which is totally awesome, btw 🙂 but I didn’t know where else to post it. The other day, I gave my 8th grade German students (beginning of 2nd year) an “All about us” project where they each had to create a slide in a Google doc presentation. There were to tell 5 things about themselves (pets, hobbies, family, etc.). The slides came out great!!! Obviously, there are quite a few mistakes (spelling and grammatical). My question is: would you correct them before sharing them with the class? I wanted to project each slide on the Smartboard and use it as a springboard for PQA. At the same time, I don’t want the kids to look at incorrectly written German. Your insight (or that of any of your readers) would be very much appreciated.


    • It depends…I typically go in and correct the three or four slides that I’m going to use during class if it’s for PQA. I know that others don’t, but I just can’t have them picking up bad spelling. It spreads!


      • I couldn’t finish my reply for some reason. Now when we do these projects, kids do them on Google docs and the first thing they must do is share editing rights with me. That means I can go in and quickly make some fixes if necessary.


  6. Thanks so much, Michele. Yes, that’s what I thought, too – I guess I just needed reassurance from the expert. The project is already on Google docs, and it’ll be really easy for me to correct it.


    • I’m not an expert, but as Karen said to us on Friday, it all depends on your tolerance level and beliefs. Nice to know someone else is with me!

      Karen did comment that she lets some things go, once the first draft is corrected, but that’s in stories that the kids write on their own and keep for themselves.


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