Goosechase: a scavenger hunt for today’s world

goosechase freeze frame2This image is a “freeze frame” mission from Bianca Nieves y los Siete Toritos by Carrie Toth, using the app Goosechase. The team pictured was recreating the scene in which El Julí  gets gored by the vicious bull, Sábado, complete with reaction from the crowd.  Does it appear that these boys were “into it?”  I think so!!!

I first read about the app Goosechase in Maris Hawkins’ blog and Arianne Dowd’s blog last May. Last week, at the iFLT 2017 conference in Denver (which I vicariously attended through Twitter), Arianne mentioned Goosechase again in conjunction with a session by Darcy Pippins and referenced my use of the app. tweet

Since I had posted quite a few of my students’ completed missions from the last few weeks of the school year on Twitter and Facebook, they suggested I might blog about the experience.  Additionally, I participated in a small part of a 10 day cultural exchange program with 49 middle school students from China last week.  I used Goosechase with them successfully….after overcoming some language and tech hurdles!

When Maris blogged about Goosechase she was studying directions and city vocabulary; Arianne used it with the novel La Hija del Sastre.  The first time that I used it was with the novel that I wrote called Amigos, Abrazos, Aventura: Argentina. It was the end of May, our weather had been uncharacteristically cool and rainy for weeks, the kids were “blah”, just waiting for school to be over….I needed something new and instantly engaging. Goosechase was an immediate hit with my juniors and they requested to do it again. But, as Carol Gaab frequently says, “The brain craves novelty.” so, while Goosechase is a great activity, it is ONE strategy to go into the basket with all of the other strategies! I would recommend using Goosechase perhaps once a semester, certainly no more frequently than once a marking term.  The second time I used it as one of the final activities with the novel Bianca Nieves y los Siete Toritos. Again, it proved to be an instantaneous success with my sophomores who also requested to do it again. The third time that I used it (last week) was to review all of the activities that the Chinese students had participated in over the week:  visiting Assateague, the Ward Wild Fowl Museum, the Salisbury Zoo, a K9 presentation, etc. For most of those students it was a positive, enjoyable experience, but for several, the language was not comprehensible for them.

The free app is easy to use.  Students divide into teams (or you can designate teams). One team member has the app on his/her device (phone, tablet), logs in and searches for the name of your game. Once he/she finds it, a password is entered (optional, but I used one to make sure that only my students were progressing through the Goosechase), the students determine a team name (and can upload an image if desired….some do), and the missions become visible to them.  The students can work through the missions in order or, as I did, they could randomly choose which to do first.  The teacher assigns the point values for the missions, therefore if random is an option, some students might opt to work on the higher valued missions first. Goosechase bills itself as “a scavenger hunt for the masses.” I can see how it would be an excellent tool on a field trip to a museum, neighborhood, restaurant, etc.  For me, I used it as review and reinforcement of material that we have covered….providing yet another repetition of comprehensible Spanish. I love that using the device, the students click “submit” and a video or photo is submitted in real time and I can view it as they are submitted. I can determine whether it meets the requirements and let the points remain (instantly added by the app) as stated, or delete the submission because it doesn’t meet the requirements OR add extra points if the submission is above or beyond what I expected. I love that there is a leaderboard that is being projected on my device (and that students checked frequently). There is also an activity feed, which shows the submissions in chronological order as well as a submissions page, where all submissions are gathered to be viewed in their entirety by points or by team.



The free edition of this app allows for just 5 teams, which worked fine for me. I had students make teams of 4-6 students and that covered the class.  Since I have multiple sections of each class, I just created the game two – three times, depending on how many classes.  It sounds like a lot of work, but it really took less than 3 minutes to recreate the game once it was made.  All of the mission that you create are stored in a “mission bank”, so it is merely a matter of going to the bank and clicking the missions you wish to include. There also is a master list of missions from the site itself and other users, but they aren’t really useful for me right now. Below are the missions that I used for my Argentina novel and then for Bianca Nieves.


As I’ve already stated, my students really enjoyed the activity.  They loved the novelty of it, the “escape” from the classroom, working with partners of their choosing, recreating what they had learned, and the competing to finish as much as possible in the time limit imposed upon them.  The time limit is something that you set (and can adjust as needed during the game). Once time is ended, students are no longer able to submit missions and return to class.  A colleague of mine used the Bianca Nieves Goosechase with her students and had similar success with one exception.  She had a team of boys who decided to merely goof off during the Goosechase.  This team accomplished one mission! She therefore had to “grade” the Goosechase, reflecting the fact that all other teams completed many missions to the one mission of these boys.

I would suggest that you notify staff and administration well in advance of the Goosechase activity.  Since students may be all over the school grounds during a regular class period, it helps that others understand what is happening.  It might also be advisable to have each group carry a hall pass from you, the teacher.

When I use this strategy again, I will probably try incorporating more of a “breakout” type environment, where students will need to finish missions in order and solve puzzles or riddles (upload the evidence) in order to advance in the “game.”

Below are some images from the two games.  Unfortunately, I can not upload videos to this “free” version of wordpress anymore. I wish that I could upload the speaking missions, because I was really impressed with what my students could express “off the cuff.” And I REALLY wish I could upload the videos where they sang, danced or acted out (freeze frame or actions) scenes from the novels.

I hope this helps give you a visual for this app.  I would love to know what you might do or create with it!

Bodymapping Argentina (first two), Spain

goosechas body mapping A goosechase body Arg

goosechase body mapping

Drawing Missions: food from Argentina, clothing from Bianca Nieves, ranch in Bianca Nieves, the letter A in the Argentina novel. Below those, imitating and honoring from Bianca Nieves

Robo en la noche…..third time is a charm!

This is the third time that my fabulous colleague, Megan Matthews, and I are teaching Robo en la noche by Kristy Placido. The first time was two years ago and we rushed through it in the final weeks of school, relying heavily on the terrific resources from Cynthia Hitz.  The second time was last year and the rhythm of teaching was disrupted multiple times by many snow days and the intrusion of PARCC testing that disrupted our schedules for weeks. This year, the third time, we have only had two snow days, and the book is flowing very well. We have continued to add resources to the novel as we ourselves expand our knowledge of TPRS and CI techniques to complement some traditional methods.  Previously, I have blogged twice about Robo, see here and here. Since it is a snowy President’s Day here in Maryland (and I should be grading papers!), I decided to post some of these new resources that might be of interest to others who are using Robo en la noche, also. We are going to be starting chapter 9 this week.

Chapter 2: Chap 2 picture sort and group presentation With this activity, I gave every student a laminated card (took the luxury of printing them in color!), and they had to decide how to group themselves.  The tentative categories were Makenna, Margarita, Costa Rica, Cecilio, etc. My Spanish III classes have between 24 – 28 students, so I needed a lot of pictures! Once they decided their own groups, they worked together to create a presentation about their category.  I gave them about 4 minutes, and they shared it with the class, using their pictures to illustrate what they were saying.  I think that in the future I might follow that with having each group write an individual summary of their presentation.  Note: Some of the pictures could fit into more than one category, it was up to the student to decide where to go.  Prior to their group presentations, I had the class assess whether the pictures were in the correct grouping, and they were allowed to change, if necessary.

Chapter 3:  This year Megan and I are really focusing on verbs and target structures.  We spent a lot of time working on the various forms of casarse, embarazado, pensar, morir and sonreir. We had worked repeatedly with the various forms using a SMART presentation.  Here are some samples from that: 1 2 3












Our final repetition used this “Toca” board. ch 3 toca vocabulary  4 Working with a partner, students first identified the meaning of all of the structures.  Then, each working with a different colored dry erase marker (the boards were laminated), I said one of the structures in English.  The first to highlight the correct structure scored the point. We wiped the board clean and repeated this several times. By the time we actually read the chapter, all of these structures were easily understood by the students.  There was absolutely no stumbling!


Chapter 5: Review bird with all characters  5Working with a partner and different colored dry erase markers, students selected a character and said one sentence about that character, coloring through the character that they selected.  Since the characters are within the bird multiple times, they were able to say many facts about each character without repeating.  This activity lasted about 5 minutes; when they were done, they held up their birds (now colorfully illustrated), and, just for fun, we selected the “prettiest” bird.

Chapters 5-6 Chapters 5 – 6 pictures for oral assessment smaller version I tried some variations with these picture cards (to be printed in color and laminated). The pictures can just be shown to the class, with the entire class adding descriptions to each picture.  The pictures can be given one at a time to a group of 2 – 3 students, who describe the picture with as much detail as possible, and then pass the picture to another group.  Or, using an idea from Carrie Toth, called the yellow brick road, I took the students into the hallway, made a “pathway (yellow brick road)” with the pictures and they worked (in partners) their way through each picture.  I allowed about a minute with each picture before asking them to move one picture to their right/left.  It was relatively easy for me to circulate and listen to their conversations to give them an informal speaking assessment.

Chapter 7 Capítulo 7 Robo en la noche predict the chapter  6Prior to reading chapter 7 and working with a partner, students identified each picture and then selected which pictures they thought would represent what would happen in Chapter 7.  They put an X on the pictures that they thought would not represent action in the chapter.  After deciding, they turned the paper over and wrote 5 sentences about what they expected would happen in the chapter and then presented them to the class.  Their ideas were certainly interesting!! After reading the chapter, we checked the papers/predictions again.

Chapters 7/8:  Some game breaks

I hope that something in this post may be useful to someone else.  If you are using this book, I would love to hear some of your ideas.


Creating “breaks” from the novel in novel ways….

I love teaching my Spanish III and IV classes with novels, and I have done several posts about the novels that I use. Currently, I am using Vida y muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha with my Spanish IV classes for the second time. Sometimes my students need a break from the seriousness of the topic.  Below are links to some things that I have created to complement the comprehensible input or to work on vocabulary in a game format.  (We are currently getting ready to move into Chapter 6, so I hope to add more.)

  1.  Quizlet and resources I created to extend the Quizlet practice/games

2.  Super Teacher Tools (this is a quick way to use the questions for the chapter in a game format)  Chapter 5 Repaso This example is using the questions that have been provided as a resource in the teachers guide.

3.  Class   PacMan Chapter 5

4.  Kahoot  Chapters 3- 4

5.  Triventy    Vocabulary 1 – 4




Beyond the basic clothing unit….with 3 CI stories

Spanish III this year has read Esperanza and studied Guatemala.  This was followed by an extensive food unit that I hope to blog about soon. According to the county curriculum, the food unit is followed by a clothing unit with a preterite/imperfect focus which has only been referred to as past tense….never separated.  There were three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks….perfect to do the clothing unit.  This is NOT the basic, introductory unit that most students are exposed to in Spanish I or II.  It is greatly expanded, and for the past several years, I have let the students dictate where the bulk of our vocabulary is going to come from, based on their interests and questions.  Additionally this year, I decided that I was going to continue with the comprehensible input stories, and so I had to create stories to go with the unit.  (I also did this for the extensive food unit).  The inspiration for the stories came from the current popularity of Selena Gomez and Enrique Iglesias, a song by Selena Gomez (The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants) that was covered by Kevin, Karla and the Band, and the natural affinity of teenagers for shopping (or not) and the “love interest of the week.” When I wrote the first two stories (for the first two weeks of the unit), it was my intention that the students were going to create the conclusion…but they practically begged me to finish the story (hence story number 3).


While I used many activities and creations from the past few years of this unit, such as the great song ¿Qué me pongo? by Mango Punch Qué me pongo Mango Punch 2014, a fun group creation activity with La Camisa Negra, lots of partner activities, etc. (as can been seen here), the primary focus was the stories, the repetitions, and a myriad of activities that went with the stories.

The story began: Había una chica que se llamaba Sofía. Sofía tenía 16 años y le gustaba ir de compras. Le gustaba ir de compras muchísimo!!! También había un chico, un chico de 16 años que se llamaba Enrique. A Enrique, no le importaba mucho la ropa….pero necesitaba la ropa confortable.   I introduced the story for the first week with this powerpoint version Ropa part 1 The student copy for the rest of the week is Ropa part 1 We read it multiple times, using various methods and ended the week with a “practice” free write that was completed with a partner then exchanged with another group who read it, underlined the words used and gave it a score. Practice Free Write

Week Two featured the second part of the story. Ropa part 2 and another version with many images replacing the vocabulary Ropa part 2 with multiple images.  We also used these story cards Sofia 2nd part story cards to retell the story (run off, cut and laminated) with a partner. The cards also lend themselves to a multitude of activities: vocabulary identification/description, sequencing, teacher read description with student “grabbing” of the correct card, etc. Part of the fun this week was the designing of the outfits that the students thought that Sofia and Enrique had worn to the dance.

Dibuja las prendas de ropa que llevaban Enrique y Sofía. Cada persona necesita tener 4 prendas de ropa y 2 accesorios. ¡Incluye los colores! ropa maleropa female

This was a multiple day activity…the creation of the outfits, the description of the outfits to a partner, and then an inner/outer circle activity where they received and exchanged and described multiple creations that were not theirs. There was also an assessed free write for this part of the story Sofia second part free write


Week Three brought the conclusion of the story. Ropa part 3, Sofía queria ir verb completion activity an acting competition, playing Kahoot with the story and also Triple Trouble Triple Trouble game.  Triple Trouble is played with groups of 2/3 students (each with their own color marker).  The teacher asks a question, and the first student has 10 seconds to tell/write the answer for his/her partner.  If correct, he/she colors in one circle, with the goal of getting three in a row as many times as possible.  Naturally, we also had to work with the song What A Heart Wants as covered by Kevin, Karla and the Band.

We ended the week with an Educreations project  Educreations 2014 for blog which really showed how much vocabulary they were using as well as a pretty natural use of the past tense.


Every year, after I finish the big music/social awareness unit with Juanes, Juan Luis Guerra and Carlos Baute, my students fear that the most compelling part of the curriculum has been covered.  Fortunately, we go right into a unit about Spain that has several really interesting components.  Yes, it contains grammar (preterite/imperfect yet again and the present perfect), but it also has a great deal about sports and culture of Spain.  I get to introduce them to David Bisbal and his ever popular Bulería, Macaco, Jarabe de Palo, and Pablo Alborán, among others.  We get to discover El País Vasco, Andalucia, Galicia, Cataluña, Castilla La Mancha, Madrid, etc.  AND, we also get to talk about jai-alai and la corrida de toros.

They are always interested in jai-alai, so I’ve tried to expand that part of the unit over the past several years. We will start by taking a look at
El País Vasco with this video:

and probably a bit from the Aventuras Vascas series:

For background information on jai-alai, I use these videos:

The Fastest Game in the World

For sheer silliness, I will include the infamous Steve O and Johnny Knoxville adventure into jai-alai   and also a brief Simpsons clip:

I created a powerpoint on jai-alai Jai- Alai-1-2 and I can share my own personal stories and pictures from games that I have attended. Somewhere along the years, I also was given an actual cesta, pelota and sash.  We leave the classroom, and I always let several students in each class attempt to throw  a ball (a koosh ball, not the actual pelota), with the cesta.  It’s usually something that they enjoy trying.

If you have other jai-alai resources, I would love to know about them.  Or, if you have other favorite activities from teaching about culture in Spain, please share.

Conversation and Tic Tac Toe

I’m always looking for ways to keep my students talking.  Monday’s are particularly difficult days to get them going.  Therefore, I sometimes have to use some bribery!  Tomorrow we are going to be working in groups of four, reviewing everything we’ve been studying in this “Music unit” for the past three weeks.  That means that I’m going to ask them to talk about everything that they can remember about Juan Luis Guerra, Juanes, La República Dominicana, Colombia, the song “Somos el mundo“, the geography of the Americas, problems, conflicts, geographical features, sports, food, types of music, etc.  I will time them (probably 3 minutes).  The rules are simple:  talk and don’t stop.  They can say anything in their group related to the stated directions.  They can respond to what someone has said, they can give information in the form of a question for the group to answer, or they can just add a fact.  Their conversations may sound like this:

  • Juan Luis Guerra es un cantante de la República Dominicana. 
  • Cantó Ojalá que llueva café en el campo. 
  • ¿Qué son unas comidas en la canción?
  • Recuerdo batata, mapuey and yuca.
  • Hay muchas playas en la República Dominicana pero también hay montañas
  • Hay niños que tienen hambre.
  • También cantó El Costo de la Vida.
  • ¿Sabes la capital de la República Dominicana?
  • La capital es Santo Domingo.
  • La bandera es roja, azul y blanca.
  • ¿Quién escribió las letras de Somos el Mundo?
  • Juanes es de Colombia.
  • Hay montañas grandes, se llaman Los Andes.
  • Colombia está en el norte.
  • La República Dominicana está en el Caribe.
  • Está al lado de Haití.
  • Las personas indígenas se llamaban taínos.
  • Juanes canto La Historia de Juan y A Dios le Pido.
  • La Historia de Juan tiene un niño que vive en la calle.
  • Hay muchos niños que viven en la calle.
  • Hay problemas con el abuso, el abandono y el secuestro.
  • La capital de Colombia es Bogotá.

While they are finished, the group of 4 will split to become two groups of two. There will be two dry erase boards, markers and erasers.  One group will become the “X” group, and the other group will become the “O” group.  On one board, they draw a large Tic Tac Toe board.  I will then ask a question for the “X” group and give them 10 seconds to write their answer on the other dry erase board.  If their answer is correct, they get to place an “X” on the Tic Tac Toe board; if it is incorrect, they do not get to write the letter on the board.  The next question is for the “O” group.  Same process.  tictactoeWhen one team wins, they erase the Tic Tac Toe board, and begin again.  Sometimes I have them play one person against the other instead of groups of two against groups of two.  My questions will be like this:

  1. Dos tipos de música de la República Dominicana son……
  2. Juan Luis Guerra escribió una canción llamada Bachata en Fukoaka.  ¿Dónde esta Fukoaka?
  3. ¿Cómo empieza el coro de Somos el mundo en español?
  4. ¿Qué significa “la luz que alumbra con ardor”?
  5. En La Historia de Juan, ¿Qué significa “su luz se apagó”?
  6. ¿Cuál canción tiene las letras “que caiga un aguacero de yuca y té?
  7. La capital de Colombia
  8. La capital de R.D.
  9.  ¿Quién es el niño que nadie amó?
  10. ¿Cuál canción tiene las letras, “Aquí no hablamos inglés “ y “Aquí no hablamos francés”?
  11. Dos industrias de R.D.
  12. ¿Cómo se llaman las montañas de Colombia?

After about 10 minutes of my questions, I ask which group has won the most games.  They are then the winners and get a piece of candy!  A happy way to start a Monday!

Blockbusters, the game: Lo Tech and Hi Tech!

Somewhere along the way, many, many years ago in my teaching career, I came up with the idea of a game called Blockbusters for Spanish class.  It must have been based on some game I had seen, but I don’t remember where. It’s a good game for vocabulary review, easy to create, and usually keeps the attention of the entire class.Lo Tech version:

Purpose: Review and reinforce current and prior vocabulary

Language Level:  applicable to all levels

# of Players:  entire class

Materials:  set of laminated, individual letters (doubles of some high frequency letters, such as a, p, r, e in Spanish); whiteboard/chalkboard.  I use magnetized cards that I simply put up on the board; they are easily arranged and removed.

Directions and/or Rules:  Create a database of vocabulary words for each letter in the set of laminated letters.  Create definitions for targeted words in the language (it is also very easy to spontaneously create definitions as you proceed).  Place laminated cards in rows across the board.  It does not matter how many cards go vertically or horizontally.  Use about 26 letters.  Divide the class into teams (2-5 teams depending on size of class).  Assign each team a symbol:  Team 1 will be the ♥; Team 2 will be the ☺; Team 3 will be the ♦; etc.  Instruct the class that the object of the game is to achieve 5 symbols that connect vertically, horizontally or diagonally, or any combination of those.  The team symbol replaces the letter when the team gives the correct vocabulary word to match the definition.  Any member on any team may answer, but once the student has been called upon, he may not receive help from his teammates, and must give his answer within 5 seconds of being called on.  Teacher chooses the beginning letter and reads the first definition.  The first hand up will be called upon.  If that person gives a correct answer, then the team symbol replaces the letter (draw it on the board).  If that person gives an incorrect answer, his team is eliminated from answering for that letter, and a new definition is read.  Play continues until one team has 5 symbols that connect vertically, horizontally or diagonally, or any combination of those directions.  When 5 connecting symbols are achieved, that team has won one game, and the symbols that were connected for that team are now “dead”, meaning that they can not be used to connect to any other letter..  However, play continues, as there should be many possible ways for teams to win.  When it becomes impossible for a team to win with 5 connected symbols, I count the symbols that have not won, and award a game to the team with the most symbols on the board.

Sample Database

A:  abogado, abril, abuela, abuelo, abuelos, aburrido, animales, antipático, apagar, aspiradora, ajedrez, atlético, ayudar, azul

B:  bailar, bajo, banco, bañarse, baño, baloncesto, beber, bebidas, bicicleta, bombero, bueno,

C:  Café, calor, calculadora, cama, caminar, camisa, cantar, carne, carpeta, cartero, cena, ciencia ficción, cine, ciudad, clase, cocinero, comer, comerciante, comprar, concierto, computadora, conductor, conocer, contento, cartas, cuaderno, cuarto, cumpleaños

D:  dar, decir,  decorar, dentista, deliciosos, deportes, dependiente, desayuno, descansar, dibujar, dientes, diseñar, divertido, dormir, dormitorio,

E:  edificio, educación física, empezar, enchiladas, enfermo, enfermera, ensalada, enseñar, entrar, entretenimiento, escribir, escritorio, escuela, escuchar, esquiar, estudiante, estudiar, estufa,

F:  falda, fácil, familia, fecha, feo, fiesta, flor, fin de semana, foto, francés, fregadero, frío, fruta, fútbol

G:  garaje, gato, garganta, gente, gimnasio, gordo, gracias, grande, gris, guapo, guitarra, gustar

H:  habitación, hablar, hace…tiempo, hacer, hambre, hamburguesa, hasta, helado, hermano, hija, historia, hospital,

I:  idiomas, iglesia, incendio, inglés, inodoro, inteligente, intelectual, interesante, invierno, invitar, italiano

J:  jamón, jardín, joven, juego, juego de mesa, jugador, jugar, jugo, julio, junio

Sample definitions:

A:  Es la madre de mi madre:  abuela

Los gatos y los perros:  animales

Limpia la sala, tienes que pasar la ____:  aspiradora

Un juego de mesa:  ajedrez

Los bomberos con el incendio:  apagar

Hi Tech Version:

Somewhere along the line, I found this PowerPoint for blockbusters.  You can easily edit it to create a game specific to your own vocabulary.  The PowerPoint that I have here is mainly used as a review after the huge music unit I do each year in March, although for some letters it will be a review of miscellaneous vocabulary.  The great thing about this version is that it actually contains 9 different versions of the game.  You simply have to remember which version you are playing, and use the questions from that number only.  blockbusters as powerpoint primarily music

Special thanks to the person who created the original PowerPoint that I have now modified for my classes!