So after winter break, I decided to review with my students. I thought reviewing would be the best way to ease them back into the classroom. This will spark some brain cells. I decided to focus on ELA skills such as Main Idea, Inferences, Research, and Text Evidence. I tried to create something that covered these skills but also was an engaging experience. It would make the students excited to be back. So I stumbled across an old favorite in the form of a Christmas Gift, Carmen Sandiego!
I LOVED the old TV show! I remember my dad teaching me how to play the computer game as a kid. I was all about bringing it back and making it a true experience for my students. I got straight to work making tasks that give students clues on the location of Carmen. This included filming my own videos portraying Carmen and Chief. It was so much fun and I loved being so creative. I hoped that when I put it all together that my students would love it too. So I got started right away developing my Google Slides. This consisted of putting my tasks, videos, and printouts in one place. So I never lose it.
Like I said before, I was able to create 3 different tasks for my students to take on to help find Carmen Sandiego.
Task 1: I found a Main Idea Sentence Strip activity that came with a TPT back I bought. I decided to use four different paragraphs and cut the sentences up and put them into bags. I gave background information for the activity. We found one of the V.I.L.E. agent’s bags at an airport and these shredded documents were inside. As agents, they have to sort the papers into the two separate topics. Such as all the sentences about dogs and all the sentences about the beach. Then they had to read through them and find the sentence that describes the main idea. This was a tricky one for my students so I plan on making sure I explain it better next time. I need to break down what they should be looking for more than letting them run. #reflections
Task 2: Students were given text messages that were intercepted from V.I.L.E. agents. They had to read them then use inference skills to infer what is being discussed. Students did well on this, but I prepared them to work in their groups. Students were expected to read the documents together and discuss the answers before writing it all down. I still had one group who struggled, but I spent more time with them. This was helping them to get started by leading discussion and having them model what I expect.
Task 3: Students were given four “pieces of art” to interpret. They were given four task cards that include a paragraph in each. After reading through a paragraph the teams had to discuss what they felt the Main Idea was. After the discussion, they had to write it in their own words. This was one of the better tasks. The students did a great job discussing and coming up with their own Main Idea.
Between all these tasks, I had video clips or evidence slides that the students would watch/ read. These were needed to write down clues in their detective notebooks. They did a great job and loved solving the mystery. They especially got excited using the clues at the end to research “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”
I will say that this is my second year doing this activity. Last year, I took student feedback to make it better this year. I created my own materials for Task 3. Students felt they should be paragraphs about Greece, the location of Carmen. I also added more slides explaining the tasks and where they came from. Explanations to why these Jr. Agents are working with the shredded paper, text messages, and works of art. Developing the back story was important to tie everything together. This made it a real case to the students. I share this to say that even when I do an activity it is not always perfect. I take the leap and try something new, but there are always things that I reflect on, learn from, and make better.
Needless to say, the students loved this activity! So did I! It was a fun way to review skills after a long break and helped bring joy back to the classroom.
What are some activities that you do in your classroom after a break? Do you review or jump straight into something new?
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