With the end of the year fast approaching (less than 2 1/2 weeks left for me!), I’m spending my afternoons trying to think of new ways to review old stories. Today, we’re working with one of the favorite stories from each class and doing an activity that I’m calling “Ninesquare”.
Choose a text for Ninesquare
First, choose a text that you want to work with. It should be a text that can be easily divided into nine sections and printed in a typeface that is large enough for students to read when printed on a full-page or half-page piece of paper, depending on how much paper you want to use.
In terms of selecting a text, it can really be anything! However, I really enjoyed working with a slightly different version of a text that my students were familiar with. For example, if you used a TPRS® Story Script to create a class story, work with the story script from your lesson plans and NOT the actual story that the class created. By working with an unfamiliar or parallel text, students will need to rely on textual clues, not their memory, as they work through this activity. Of course, if you are confident that having students work from memory will meet your instructional goals, a familiar text can be great too!
Prep the text for Ninesquare
I began by dividing the text into nine chunks and then copying and pasting each chunk of the text into a 3×3 table in a word document. I included two or three sentences in each cell of the table. Honestly, if you want to do a different number of cells (such as 12), it really doesn’t matter. No matter how many cells in the table, make sure that you paste in the text chunks out of order (NOT left to right and top to bottom).
Distribute your Ninesquare worksheets
My students are currently sitting at tables, with two students per table. One person at each table grabbed the following supplies (I liked to assemble kids ahead of time, but it’s not necessary):
- 2 Ninesquare worksheets
- 1 pair of scissors
- 2 pieces of felt (If you don’t have felt, you could use paper or nothing at all)
- 4-6 crayons (or markers or colored pencils or highlighters…). I made sure that each table had the same six colors, but if that doesn’t work out, it’s okay.
Ninesquare Activity 1: Grammar
Before you jump into this activity, think of a handful of grammatical patterns that (a) are used in the text and (b) you have studied or featured in pop-up grammar throughout the year. When I did this Ninesquare activity this spring with my Spanish 1A’s, I chose these grammatical patterns to highlight:
- nouns precede adjectives in Spanish
- the preposition “de” for possession
- verbs (recognizing them)
In class, you will be asking students to find instances of these constructions in the text and mark them with a specific color. This is BEFORE students cut apart the grid! I began by saying (in Spanish), “Underline five cognates with the color red”. I gave the students a few moments to do so, then I asked for examples from volunteers.
The volunteers gave me the “coordinates” of the square in which they found an example (ex: the left square at the bottom; the top square in the middle column, etc.), and I underlined their example in my copy on my document camera. There were probably ten cognates in the reading, and we covered most of them before we moved on.
Then, I asked students to find and underline two examples of where the preposition “de” is used to show possession in green. We repeated the steps to share answers, and then repeated the whole thing for the other grammatical constructions. Each time, I designated a different color for students to use when marking those things in their texts.
Ninesquare Activity 2: Sequencing
Next, your students are going to sequence the text. Have students cut apart the nine squares and re-arrange them in the correct order on the piece of felt or paper. I like this because it grips the paper squares better than the slippery table, and gives them a designated work space. Plus, it will come in handy for Activity 3!
After a minute, work through the thought process to find the first square with your students. This will help students that are stuck and don’t know where to begin. Don’t do it right away, though, because you DO want to give students some time to think on their own before you start doing the thinking for them! After you’ve modeled your thinking, give them independent work time as you walk around the room to monitor and provide support.
As students finish, check their work. If they have an error, set aside the square or squares that are out of order and have them try again!
When most students are done, ask for volunteers to stand and read the squares in order. (One student stands and reads the first square, another stands and reads the second, etc.). Ask circling questions about the information in each square before moving on, focusing on key vocabulary and relevant grammatical patterns in each square.
Finally, once all students have the squares in the correct order, have all students read aloud the story to their hand or their partner.
Ninesquare Activity 3: Switch places
For this activity, my students interacted with their table partner but still worked independently.
First, instruct EVERY student to flip-flop or switch around two of their squares. Remember, they were already in the correct sequence – so now two text chunks will be out of order.
Here’s where the felt or paper workspace comes in handy! Have each student slide their piece of felt or workspace paper over to their partner, and take theirs. You could also have students physically swap places (so the sets of text chunks stay in one location, and the students move).
Call out, “GO!”, and race to see which partner can identify and un-switch the flip-flopped text chunks first, putting the text back in order.
Continue switching squares and racing to fix them to see who wins two out of three or three out of five.
Ninesquare Activity 4: What’s missing?
This time, instead of switching squares, each student will remove one of the text chunks before passing the felt to their partner.
Their partner must summarize the missing information in the target language without looking at their own storyboard. If they can do it, they get a point!
See which partner can get to 5 points first.
What worked about Ninesquare
This little set of Ninesquare activities was nice because it allowed them to work with lots of different materials and was very kinesthetic. It felt quite different than the things that we regularly do in class, so it was a nice change of pace.