Backup Plans for those Dark Days

We all have those days when just don’t have anything to give. You’re exhausted, the weather is dreary, or you are feeling the very real effects of depression. This year, in particular, these days seem more and more frequent. Whatever the reason, some days you just can’t. I’m having one of those days today so I felt moved to write this. This post was a inspired by an old post on Martina Bex’s website. So without further ado, here are my go-to moves for when these days show up unannounced…

  • The Choice Board. All you do is find literally anything that has or can be read in the target language. This can even be done with FVR books. Have students celebrate their understanding by completing any number of activities from this choice board, also borrowed from Martina Bex with some cool additions from Lauren Downey. No prep and extremely effective.

  • Blooket. is no longer a well-kept secret and have become a favorite online gaming site for language teachers and students. Make, or find, a Blooket set that focuses on high-frequency words in your language. For example, search “frequent Russian words” and then fire up a game. You can assign these as independent activities or just play as a class. Almost no prep and fun. There are ways to make decks that are more suitable for acquisition, but save that work for another day.
  • Video + 3, 2, 1 Reflection. Find a culturally or linguistically relevant video. Show the video and have students write down 3 things they learned, 2 things they want to know more about and 1 question they have. Only prep is finding a video.
  • Write, Copy, Translate or Draw. This is a slight adaptation of Tina Hargaden’s write and discuss. Write a story on the board in real time while your students copy down the story. Stop periodically to check for understanding, establish meanings of words, etc. Once they have copied down the story, Have them either translate the entire story into English (or whatever the common language is) OR make a 6-slide storyboard with original drawings. Some prep, if you need to choose a story. No prep, if you just improvise the story on the spot.

There you have it. All of these are activities that I frequently use in class anyway, except maybe the video reflection. I put them on this list because they demand little or nothing from a teacher who has little or nothing to give, at that moment in time. I hope this helps you.

John Bracey