Thursday, September 25, 2014

Scrambled Eggs

This is a great activity which I just learned from Lauren Watson, a French teacher in my district. She is a fellow user of CI and has been using it for years in her classroom, long before I ever had even heard of CI. Along with Bob Patrick and me, Lauren co-facilitates our districtwide CI inservices.

Scrambled Eggs is a much like a running dictation but with a twist. For this activity, you wil need plastic Easter eggs. Here are her directions, as she explained it to me:
  1. Write a 10 sentence story with words which students have acquired; then scramble the sentences so that the story is out of order. 
  2. Number each sentence, cut the story into 10 sentence strips and put one strip into a plastic Easter egg. 
  3. Put the eggs into a basket in the center of the room.
  4. Students worked in partners (partner A and partner B)
  5. Partner B has a sheet of paper numbered 1-10 (because there are 10 sentences).
  6. Partner A is responsible for going to the basket and bringing an egg back to Partner B.  They are NOT ALLOWED to open the egg until they are at their seats!  
  7. Partner A opens the egg, gives Partner B the sentence number and reads the sentence slowly.  Partner B writes down what he/she hears.
  8. After 5 sentences, they switch roles.
  9. When finished, show them the correct sentences, and they make corrections.
  10. At the end, they have to unscramble the story so that it makes sense.  
  11. As a bonus, I added 2 extra eggs with "Brain Breaks" in them.  Every time they got an egg with a Brain Break, they had to do what the paper inside said.  EX:  Touche le singe! (Touch the monkey!- I have a stuffed monkey hanging in my classroom) or a list of TPR commands for them to do.  Just silly, but they liked it.  
Okay, back to me now. Yesterday, we had the GA Graduation Writing Test, so I had a number of students out so this was a nice extension activity to do in class. Scrambled Eggs is a high energy activity, because there will be students constantly running back and forth to put back eggs and to retrieve new ones. 

As I have 34 students in a few of my Latin I classes, I added the following to the activity:
  1. In addition to the 10 sentences and 2 brain breaks, I added 2 more brain break strips and 2 strips which had "XXXXXXs", meaning that students had gotten a "dead" egg without a sentence so they would have to go back to get a new egg
  2. I added the task of translating the sentence into English after writing down the sentence in Latin. This was just to add another task to the activity in order to make it last longer.
  1. Because you are solely working with words which students have acquired and as the sentences are comprehensible, the actual reading, listening, writing and translating is not difficult at all for students.
  2. The activity does take prep time but during the activity, you the teacher are simply faciilitating.
  3. It is a different way to do a dictation. In having students read to each other, they are hearing the language spoken by someone other than you the teacher.
  4. It is a different way to do a running dictation, especially since students are just running to the center of the room as opposed to across a gym or hallway.
  5. Because students switch off every 5th sentence, they each get a turn having to read the Latin aloud and to write it down as a dictation
  6. To quote Lauren, "it is a chaotic activity but a good kind of chaos."
  7. It was fun watching students get an egg, go back to their partners and open it, only to find that they already had that sentence so they had to go put it back and then grab a new egg (which hopefully had a new sentence) 
Thanks, Lauren, for a great activity


  1. Is there anything to prevent them from getting the same sentence twice (thrice? more?)? If not, do they just run up and swap eggs when they get a repeat?

    1. The chance of getting the same sentence more than once is part of the activity. If they get a sentence which they had before, yes, they just run up and put back the egg and grab a new one. By the end, when they just need 1-2 new sentences, then it actually becomes fun to watch, because the odds are that they will grab an egg with a sentence which they already had, an egg with a Brain Break in it or a "dead" egg.

    2. I labeled my eggs by letter, and I said "how can you use the letters to help you in this game" My students are middle school, and I didn't want a touch of chaos to bring down the fun, it went really well and kids wrote A-J on their paper and marked them off as they got certain eggs

  2. New variation: One of the eggs had a direction to take and wear a pair of paper crowns that were in the classroom. The crown stealing added a great deal of hilarity to the game! I'll post some photos on Twitter!

    1. A nice added touch to the activity!

    2. If students have already acquired the words, how does this promote acquisition?

    3. One can never receive too many repetitions of language, even if acquired.

  3. ¡Hola! I really enjoyed this activity, I should've tagged you in my post! Thanks, a novelty spin on a running dictation. Did mine on dates and weather, ordering the dates (NOVICE)