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.


Robo en la Noche


Snow days, snow days….give me an opportunity to get caught up with lots of things.  Even provides enough time to attempt to write another blog post!

Teaching and planning Spanish III with a great colleague, Megan Matthews, the past few years, and we have really hit our stride. We are currently in Chapter 5 of Robo en la noche, (written by Kristy Placido) and I could not be more convinced that reading, comprehensible input and these TPRS novels are the way to really help our students acquire language easily AND TO RETAIN IT. It’s one thing to say that we are reading a novel in Spanish, but it is just so much more.  This is our second time with Robo; the first time we relied extensively on the wonderful resources of Cynthia Hitz, while creating some of our own. This time around, we have added extensively to our supplementary activities. We have incorporated music, history, geography, culture, manipulatives, listening, speaking….you name it.  This is my wikipage with all of the resources that we have developed. You can click on the menu bar for the chapters; the work is in descending order, meaning that the oldest is on the bottom of the page.

We began our study of Costa Rica with the students NOT knowing where the story would be located.  We used a Primer Dia Opening Activity, combined with a smartboard presentation that we created as well as part of this video (cut so that it didn’t show the words Costa Rica/Pura Vida) , to have students begin to make some guesses as to where we were going and what it might involve. After guessing, correctly, the students then worked with partners and laptops to develop a further base of knowledge with Primer Dia. We also spent time with the song Percance Pura Vida by Percance….a song that they LOVED singing, especially the chorus!

If you visit my wikispace you will have access to the smartboards and other papers developed for the book.  There are links to TOCA boards, Picture retells, Who Said What, Kahoot and vocabulary work. Additionally, I collect resources on my Pinterest board for Robo.  I am sending everything to Carol Gaab for formal approval (hopefully).

Hope this helps some of you who are working with this awesome book!

Argentina! culture, geography, reading, speaking and listening!

My Spanish III students have been in the “travel” chapter. For the past 4 years, I’ve had my students “travel” to Argentina, and I have had them work quite a bit with maps and geography (two of the many links I use).  One of the activities that I do is to have them compare Buenos Aires and Washington, D.C.  Of course, initially, they don’t know what they are doing!

The first thing I do is divide them into groups (no more than 4 students per group) and give each group a packet of laminated, full color pictures (all pictures are located on the powerpoint below, just separated).  Those pictures include geographical markers, sports, food, government buildings, etc. I ask the students to categorize the pictures into no more than 6 groups, and to write the names of the categories they chose. Buenos Aires DC categorization student group sheet  The back of this paper will be used for the similarity/difference activity the next day.

I then asked them if they could guess the places/cities in the pictures.  Of course, they came up with D.C. immediately, and because we had begun our preliminary introduction (Qué sabes de opening activity 2014) to Argentina, they guessed Buenos Aires.  The next step was to divide the pictures into two groups: Buenos Aires/D.C.: quickly and easily done. We  used this powerpoint Buenos Aires Washington, D.C. 2014 revised and started to talk about the similarities and differences between the two places. We continued this work the next day, but did not finish the powerpoint.  Instead, I gave them the packet of pictures again and this time, also gave them captions Facts for Buenos Aires Washington D.C..  I asked them to match the captions with the pictures.  Two members of the group were responsible for D.C. and two were responsible for Buenos Aires.  They had to share information with each other when they finished, and I then also had them choose one picture/caption from D.C., and one from Buenos Aires that they were responsible for “teaching” to each other. They practiced reading captions to each other, choosing the appropriate pictures, etc. We then finished the powerpoint, and each group completed the paper Buenos Aires DC categorization student group sheet with their similarities/differences. It always amazes me how much the students DON’T know about their own capital!

The next day, in groups of two, I gave each student 9 words.  Their task was to describe the nine words to their partner, without using the actual word, so that their partner would say that word(s). Each one had nine different words. Argentina questions Since we had been doing some map work, and we had watched several short clips about Argentina, I had them work with that partner to color code this map. La Argentina primer trabajo del mapa  mapa

Borrowing an activity from one of my colleagues, I had my students work with another partner to complete a reading/listening and map activity. Each partner got a description of an imaginary trip that he/she had taken.  They read it silently, then they read it to their partner.  I had them read aloud several times, using various “voices”. The next day, they each got a map, and the partner read the description of his/her trip one more time to his/her partner.  This time, the partner was drawing everything that was said on the map.  Once they finished, they had to write 5 sentences, using ONLY the map that they had drawn on, to describe the trip of their partner.  While this activity was going on, I was conducting individual one minute speaking assessments with each student in the class. Partner description of trip to Argentina with drawing activity  5 sentence about partner’s trip

A final speaking/pronunciation assessment came from a Google Voice assignment that I gave them 2 nights to complete.  We practiced reading a paragraph about a trip to Argentina several times.  They all read, and I timed them.  Finally, they called my Google Voice number and recorded it.  Google voice paragraph read Hice un viaje a Buenos Aires

A final activity with maps that was 100% engaging (again borrowed from a colleague): I gave a group of two students a blank map of South America in a sheet protector; the map had NO political divisions.  Each student had a different colored dry erase marker and eraser.  Their task was to draw all 13 countries and capitals, the equator, the Andes mountains, and label the oceans.  I had to see approximately equal colors on their finished work to indicate that both partners had shared equally in the work.  I was amazed at how intently they worked on this activity!

New Unit: Immigration

Statue of LibertyThanks to the addition of another unexpected day at home (snow day #6), I’ve been able to devote quite a bit of time to the next unit that Spanish IV is going to explore:  Immigration in the United States.  Before I go any further, I must say that I am indebted to the great, original work of Kara Jacobs @(karacjacobs) and the additions of Pilar Munday (@mundaysa) and @cristinaZimmer4. Next, I would like to say that while this is a unit that I will be using with my Spanish IV students, I think that there is material here that can be used with all levels of proficiency, including novice.  I’ve created a database for 29 songs that deal with immigration17 videos that deal with immigration and 35 links on the web for authentic resources both in Spanish and in English.  This is my Pinterest board, where I have been collecting resources for the past several months. Here is the link to the daily lesson plans from my wikispace, El Mundo de Birch which are in development and will be added to on a daily basis for the next month that I am in this unit. As of this writing, there are three full days of lesson plans, with the outline for the next six days.


1     Define la diferencia entre “emgirar” y “inmigrar”. ¿Qué es el Sueño Americano? ¿Ha cambiado el Sueño Americano? Explica tu respuesta.

2     ¿Por qué emigran ilegalmente muchas personas a los Estados Unidos? ¿De dónde es la mayoría de los inmigrantes indocumentados? ¿Cómo llegan algunos? ¿Por qué vienen ilegalmente y no legalmente? ¿Cuál es el proceso de entrar legalmente en los EEUU?

3     ¿Qué pasa ahora con la reforma migratoria en los EEUU? ¿Qué es el DREAM Act?

4     ¿Quiénes son algunos cantantes que cantan sobre la inmigración? ¿Cuáles son sus perspectivas? ¿Cómo son diferentes y/o similares las canciones y los videos? ¿Qué opinas tú de las canciones?

5     En tu opinión, ¿hay una solución al problema? ¿En qué consiste?


  1. Evaluación Oral, basada en Pregunta Esencial #2 (el 17/18 marzo) 25 puntos
  2. Free Writes
    1.  Which Way Home (10/11 marzo) 20 puntos
    2. 30 Days Inmigración (13/14 marzo) 20 puntos
  3. Compara y contrasta dos o tres de las canciones en cuanto a sus perspectivas de la inmigración illegal. (I.C.E./Bandera/Pa’l Norte/Pobre Juan) En tu opinión, ¿qué es el mensaje de la canción ? ¿Estás de acuerdo con el mensaje? ¿Por qué sí o no? Apoya (support) tu respuesta conlíneas de la canción. (25 marzo) 30 puntos
  4. Evaluación Oral, basada en Pregunta Esencial #3 después de leer el artículo de CNN       Google Voice response (20 marzo) 20 puntos
  5. Interpretación dramática de una de las canciones ( I.C.E. por La Santa Cecilia, Bandera por Aterciopelados, Pobre Juan por Maná, Pa’l Norte por Calle 13)
  • a. grupos de 3-4 personas
  • b. escriben una “obra” (play) sobre la canción
  • c. presentan la “obra” en clase (sin apuntes)
  • d. 31 marzo, 1 abril,  guión (script) 20 puntos, presentación oral 25 puntos

The initial target vocabulary for this unit: (Quizlet)

  • 1. cárcel
  • 2. castigo
  • 3. ciudadanía
  • 4. ciudadano
  • 5. cruzar
  • 6. discriminar
  • 7. dispuesto a trabajar
  • 8. echar de menos
  • 9. el derecho
  • 10. en busca de
  • 11. extranjero
  • 12. frontera
  • 13. igualdad
  • 14. leyes
  • 15. mudarse
  • 16. país natal
  • 17. población
  • 18. preocuparse por
  • 19. prosperidad
  • 20. seguir las leyes
  • 21. ser testigo (de)
  • 22. tratar (de)

Metas y Sueños, some final thoughts

Like all things in the teaching world (and in life, in general), things don’t always go as you have planned…even when you have spent a long time planning!  This new unit that I began creating in the “snow days” of January has been much of what I planned, but has certainly evolved into things that I simply could not anticipate.  What began like this:

Preguntas Esenciales

1. ¿Qué es tu rutina diaria? ¿Cómo te escapas la rutina?

2. ¿Cuáles son tus metas, tus sueños? ¿A qué quieres dedicarte? ¿Cómo han cambiado tus metas /sueños desde tu niñez? ¿Cómo vas a lograr tus sueños? ¿Cómo te enfrentas a los retos, los obstáculos?

3. ¿Quién es una persona que ha superado mucho? ¿Cuáles son las características y/o las acciones de la persona que ha superado mucho? ¿Quién es una persona que admiras? ¿Porqué?

4. ¿Cómo presentan los sueños y las metas las canciones populares?

5. ¿Cuál fue la banda sonora de tu infancia? ¿Cuál fue la banda sonora de sus años de escuela secundaria? ¿Qué crees que va a ser la banda sonora de tu futuro?

changed to eliminate question #5, added significantly to #3 and included several days on the goals and dreams of the people of Venezuela.  With the elimination of essential question #5, I also had to eliminate a final evaluation (the sound track of their lives, and a review of preterite/imperfect). But, with the addition of the Venezuela component, I believe that the unit became even more authentic.  To question #3, about people who have overcome obstacles to achieve goals and dreams, I had planned on using Martin Luther King, Jr.,Kseniya Simonova, and Charlotte and Jonathon from Britain’s Got Talent.  The section on Charlotte and Jonathon I got from tweets from Axel (from Argentina), as I looked for more information to include in the study of his song “Celebra la vida“.  Metas celebra tu vida We spent quite a bit of time with the song, with various activities, including drawing the lyrics and acting the lyrics.  Our discussion of the tweets and then the follow up with the Charlotte and Jonathon story, including updates through December 2013, was certainly very worthwhile.  I decided, after the reaction of my students, to add another person to our study of overcoming obstacles: Malala Yousafzai Metas Malala  and with the BBC video, Metas Malala BBC Mundo video.  I was amazed that so few of my students knew who she is.  We spent several days with the reading taken from BBC, talking in small groups, working with the Spanish captions in the video, and talking about and contrasting their views of education with hers.  We also watched a Diane Sawyer interview with her (in English) as well as her appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

I’ve already posted about our work with Venezuela, and I’ve also posted a few of the final evaluations.  However, there was one student who did not have her project ready in class yesterday.  She told me she was having some difficulty with the final editing and uploading of her project, and promised that I would have it by last night.  Well, she carried through with her promise, and, in my opinion, it demonstrates her total comprehension of this unit, interpreted through the words of Juanes in his inspirational song, No creo en el jamás.  I wish that @Juanes could view it.  Please watch her video here.

Our work with the song began with Metas No creo en el jamas Juanes revised. The five songs that I selected to use with the unit were mostly successful.  There were three that my students really enjoyed:  Celebra tu vida (Axel), No creo en el jamás (Juanes) and No me doy por vencido (Luis Fonsi).  ( By enjoy, I mean that by the end, they were singing the songs at the top of their lungs!) The songs No hago na’ ma’ (El Gran Combo) and the new version Echar Pa’lante were received with a mediocre reaction, and Bonito (Jarabe de Palo) was a song with which they were already familiar. I also used, to lesser degrees, Vivir mi vida (Marc Anthony), Solo soy (Doctor Krapula) and So What (Sie7e).

The entire scope of this unit, how it went day by day, with additional materials can be viewed here. Next week, we move on to the Immigration unit with materials from the amazing Kara Jacobs (@karacjacobs) and Cristina Zimmerman (@CristinaZimmer4), as well as my additions.  To start the unit, we are going to use the documentary Which Way Home, making the transition from dreams and goals to immigration via the dreams and goals of the dreaming children in the video.


Metas y Sueños…..culminating student projects updated 2/28

Spanish IV has spent almost 5 weeks in this unit.  This week, in addition to the activities for #SOS Venezuela, students have been working on their PBT (performance based task).  The task was to choose one of the five songs that we studied in detail and “reinterpret” it.  They were free to use any visual means to do this.  Many of them chose Powerpoints and PhotoStories because that is what they are most familiar with, but several branched out into different territories.  The actual presentations of the projects will be tomorrow and I will be posting several examples of them, but one was submitted today, and it just blew me away.

These two young men chose to interpret the Juanes song, No creo en el jamás, using iMovie.  While the parameters of the assignment are listed below this post, briefly they were:

  • show me your understanding of the lyrics of this song, in terms of goals, dreams, obstacles, using a visual format
  • do NOT put the actual lyrics in your presentation, instead use our active vocabulary to create your own statements

Here is the link to their presentation.  I would love to hear your feedback (please ignore the error with the verb encontrar in their presentation…grammar is not the focus), and as I said, I will update this post this weekend.

Metas Presentacion de las canciones sobre metas y suenos-1

Here are a few more of their projects. The music probably won’t play in them because of the formatting, but you will get the idea (hopefully). I wish I could share the Powtoon and the Scratch videos that were made, but they are user/password protected. And, as always, gentle with the grammar errors….for me, the content is more important!

Metas Celebra D & J

Metas Celebra S & N    this one doesn’t have transitions in it, you will have to click through it

Metas No me doy E & M     no transitions, click through it

Metas Bonito H & W  no transitions. click through it