Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Activity - Who Is Better?

This is a two day activity (it could easily be a three day activity or a one day activity with an upper level class) that I came up with to review vocabulary for both our story and the final exam. I am calling it: Comparisons - Who is better?

Some Notes

There are a few things I want to point out in case you are exploring Standards Based Grading, Untextbooking, etc. 

  • This activity would be great for standards that involve writing, writing with accuracy, list making, descriptions, and comparisons.
  • This activity is great for novella reading with lots of characters or descriptions. It can be a review activity that leads into a chapter with lots of descriptions
  • This activity works really well with nature vocabulary, body parts, colours, places, prepositions, and adjectives. 

My Set Up

We did this activity before reading chapters 6-7 of Magus Mirabilis Oz and also before the final. We've done a lot of nature, body parts, and colour vocabulary to read this book and I wanted something to review that before reading these chapters because, in these chapters, we meet the Cowardly Lion, review everyone's desires, and we have our first dangerous adventure with the Kalidae (fearsome half lion, half bear creatures who chase the characters across a ditch). 


Day 1

approved animals with feet, hands, ears, eyes, hair, horns, wings,
teeth, fins, and a variety of colours!
On day 1, put students into small groups and give them some object to focus on. In m classes, we used a variety of stuffed animals that I chose based on the number of descriptors students could use and how easily these animals lent themselves to the "most" portion of the activity. 

Students were to describe the animal as best they could using their vocabulary notes and any resources I'd given them to describe the body, colour, etc. of the animal and then to describe where the animal lived (nature vocab). 

Finally, students were to pick from a list on the board of "most" adjectives and give a reason, in Latin, why the animal was the "most". 

Example using image to the right:

homo est mirabilis. Iacobus vocatur. aures duas habet. oculos magnos habet. os magnum habet. Iacobus dua bracchia et duos pedes habet. est homo mirabilis. Iacobus cornua longa habet. Iacobus est coloris caerulei. Iacobus est homo mirabilis. Iacobus sub aqua habitat. Iacobus magnam domum habet et cum coniuge habitat. tres filias habent. Iacobus est fortissimus quod cum trebus filiis habitabat. 

This man is strange. He is called Jacob. He has two ears. He has big eyes. He has a big mouth. Jacob has two arms and two feet. He is a strange man. Jacob has long horns. Jacob is the colour blue. Jacob is a strange man. Jacob lives under the water. Jacob has a big house and lives with his wife. They have three daughters. Jacob is the strongest because he lives with three daughters. 

Day 2

On day 2, I took their responses and created this comparison presentation. We circled the descriptions themselves before I asked the question.... quid est.... melior/maior/sapientior? We then debated the reasons why one thing might be better than the other. You can see some student work below as I put it in the presentation*.

* all images used are either my own photos or obtained via google image search with creative commons or public domain status. 


I did this activity at the end of the year, so there was some push back because we had to write. That being said, students jumped into this activity immediately. Students got to choose an approved animal and, since I had gotten a few new ones recently, they were excited to grab one. Students very quickly described the animals and used me to extract the vocabulary they needed. 

I did give an example of what I expected because I wanted them to understand the three parts of the writing: description of the animal, description of where they lived, and an explanation of why the animal is the most whatever. 

Having the students do the writing (when they are ready) gave me plenty of material to pull from for a more formal discussion the next day.

Students REALLY liked this activity. They enjoyed choosing their animal, writing their description, and choosing their "most" adjective. They were visibly and verbally happy to see their work presented the next day and "show off" their skills when describing their animal. They loved having control over which animal was "the most". I think their excitement and pride came from the fact that we did this when I was 100% sure they could do all these things. This is definitely something I will use again. 

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