Nervous habits and Balderdash

Sorry I’ve been away for so long. I blame color guard camp (which sounds so much cooler than plain old “band camp.”)

Confession time: I have a nervous habit of cleaning and organizing. I do this when I’m stressed, when I’m bored, and when I’m nervous. So this summer has been all about cleaning and organizing my SUPER cute classroom (no bias here!) and not about designing instruction.

Actually, because I’m so nervous about it, it makes me want to organize MORE things. And clean MORE. When I think about this school year, I’m actually a mess. I know that the first thing I want to do is change to 90% TL/TCI practices. I’m excited (though terrified) to do this. I know that failing is a part of the learning process, but as teachers, we’re expected to never fail! The pressure alone is crippling.

But apart from that, I don’t know what to DO. What activities should I do? What cultivates students practicing the language? I can have them talk to each other, sure. But in classes of 30 students, I’m not always great at keeping everyone talking. I always hear talk of graphic organizers for things like authentic resources, but I wouldn’t know how to start making one. I realized that I don’t have many of my own original ideas, and I don’t actually know if that’s a bad thing. I think another one of my nervous habits is scrolling OTHER people’s blogs for ideas …

I can’t leech off of other people’s resources forever, but I did want to link to a few that I’m excited to try.

Questions crunch by Amy Lenord

Some kind of inference organizer like Creative Language Class

Using instagram for vocab by Señora Dentlinger

Using photopeach as an AP assessment like Musicuentos

Something applicable to my student’s day-to-day life, like Sra. Spanglish wrote about with Healthy Habits


My newest breakthrough, however, is my own idea! It comes with a rousing game of Balderdash with some old friends. Man, that game is so creative and I love it. I once found out about a real problem I have while playing – haptodysphoria!


Anyway, if you’ve ever played Balderdash (which, even though there are newer boxes, always seems to come in that already faded color – what’s up with that?) you know that there are five categories: Peculiar people, Marvelous movies, Laughable laws, Incredible initials, and Weird words. I was looking for ideas for my AP students to journal each day, and I think this would be fun/interesting/helpful for them. I would set each day to a theme, for example, Mondays might be words. Then, I’d post a word that students should know, and they need to be able to write about it – I think this would be a great step in circumlocution. Alternatively, I could write a word that’s relevant to the AP theme at hand and students would have to craft a definition for it. I think I’ll try out both.

So, the week would look something like this:

Monday – Words (explained above)
Tuesday – People (name a famous Francophone person, also related to an AP theme, and have students write about them. If unknown, students could look them up and write about them. Not sure if they should guess first.)
Wednesday – Initials (again, give an acronym that’s relevant and students define it based on theme … then look up the real acronym, of course, and write about what the organization does/what it means/who it applies to)
Thursday – Movies (I think for this, I’ll show some kind of clip – commercial, news, movie, etc. and have students write about it)
Friday – Sentence completion, so that it starts out like the laws in the game that you have to finish (this might be a great way to review grammar. I’ll post the beginning to a sentence and students will have to complete it. They’ll write a little bit more on the topic, but this could be fun/silly for Fridays.)


I think I’m going to test it out – one of the things I wanted to do in college was write a little creatively on some topics, instead of analyzing literature all the time. This will give students a chance to be silly, while learning about AP themes and practicing their writing skills.

What do you think? What might you change about the types of journaling? I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it all plays out.

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