Assignment/Assessment Ideas · Vocabulary

Sub Day Options

I hate taking off work. It’s a pain to prepare work and instructions for a sub, and I would like my students be able to work on something meaningful and worth their time. On the other hand, sometimes it can be hard to give them something that I can trust them to do if I’m not there – and, if I’m being honest, that doesn’t require me to grade a whole stack of papers when I return from wherever I’ve been.

So here’s my list of go-to assignments for when I need to be out. Some of these options might fall into the “busy work” category for some teachers, to which I can only say… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I don’t feel bad because we do almost no busy work otherwise in my classes, and I truly believe a worksheet once in a blue moon is not going to kill a kid.

Low Prep 

  • Workbook pages and/or worksheets from our textbook series (Cambridge) and other series.
  • Crossword puzzles created using the website Armored Penguin. I usually make these puzzles about vocabulary, but you could really do any number of things, like questions about a story you’ve been reading. I like crossword puzzles because of their self-checking aspect.
  • Old National Latin Exams. The easiest way to assign these is to just print them off and pair them with a Scantron or something like ZipGrade, but over the past year I’ve slowly put together some Google Form versions of these so that they are self-grading.
  • Reading comprehension questions about Cambridge stories from Quia and Quizizz. You can print these off or have students take them online (I think you need a paid account on Quia to do this, but this option is free on Quizizz).
  • “Tests” from Quizlet. Every Quizlet set has the option to create a test, and you can adjust the settings so that the test creates different types of questions (fill-in-the-blank, matching, short answer, true/false). You can print these off for students. I’ve also had students complete activities on Quizlet, but you need a paid teacher account to keep track of what students have done.

No Prep – good for emergencies or the “sub folder” because they can be adapted to any chapter, stage, story, etc.

  • Magic puzzles. This is something I think you have to have done together in class once or twice before to make sure students know how to do them when you’re not there. Magic puzzles are a vocabulary activity, although you could also use them to match something like a character and a description. I usually have students hold their magic puzzles until I get back. Then they cut them up and switch with a neighbor to try to complete their neighbor’s puzzle. Here’s an example I made a few years ago for my students.
    Magic puzzle example.jpg
  • National Latin Exams, like I mentioned above. Reserve a set for your emergency sub plans.
  • 4-word stories. I have created a template for these for my students (feel free to use it) that has up to 12 frames. Normally when we do these in class, I just do an adapted version of what Keith talks about in his blog post: I give the students XYZ number of words they can choose from and then tell them something like “you must have XYZ number of sentences that are compound sentences.” To create instructions that could apply to any lesson or unit, however, I would just say that students must use at least XYZ number of words from the vocabulary list or Quizlet set for that chapter/story/stage. One last thing: if assigning for sub work, I would not let students work in groups, only in pairs (if they can be trusted to behave for a sub) or alone.
  • Reading guides (here’s my template), which we use in our program as a regular assignment. The idea of a reading guide (h/t Maria Kepler) is that students read a story on their own before coming to class and write down vocabulary and structures that give them trouble or are unfamiliar. When we do these as homework in Latin II (about twice a week), I just assign them a story and a number of lines, usually no more than 20. For a sub folder assignment, I would use instructions that say that students should use the next story in their book.

There are also options that are a little bit more prep-heavy like having students complete an EdPuzzle or a student-paced Pear Deck. I haven’t done either of these for sub days, but depending on what you do with them, you could get close to replicating a normal day in class.

Breakout Edu · Latin Club/Junior Classical League · Technology in the Latin Classroom

Two Alternatives to Password-Protected Word Docs for Breakout Edu

Could that title be longer?

I’m planning a Breakout Edu game for GJCL Convention this year, and one of the things I kept running into trouble with was wanting to use a flashdrive for a password-protected Word doc. This is fine when we do these Breakout games at school; I am working with my own students, I know that they have devices that have Word, etc.

But at GJCL, we would run into a few problems. The big one? Nobody would have a device that could open a flashdrive. The kids there will have phones, though, and Rock Eagle does have Wi-Fi, so I’ve been trying to come up with ways to have our puzzles that would normally lead to a password-protected Word doc lead elsewhere on the Internet.

I really only had two requirements: 1) it needs to be easy to use, and 2) it needs to be free. This is what I came up with:

  • Padlet. I have used Padlet (and password-protected Padlets, at that) in class before and loved it, so why not incorporate it into a Breakout game? If you’re looking for a direct one-to-one replacement for a password-protected Word doc, I think Padlet’s got you covered, since you can put just about anything in one. One of the big pluses that you get with using Padlet for Breakout is that you can store multiple clues on the same page – but in discrete blocks. You can adjust the settings so that students can only view the Padlet, but I think it would be cool to do something where students have to drag the little Padlet notes to be in the correct order to reveal something to propel the game. You could even use the background image as part of a clue or puzzle.
Padlet setting the password
Setting the password

Padlet clues

  • Quizlet. You can password-protect Quizlet sets, even with a free account. I like the idea of using a Quizlet set in a Breakout game as a codebreaking aide (if, for example, students have discovered a set of numbers, they can use the Quizlet set to “translate” those numbers into letters to unlock a word lock).

I’m sure there are many other websites and apps that can be used for password-protecting material. I think Tumblr allows for password-protected blogs, but if you’re playing at school, it’s likely blocked by the Wi-Fi.

Hopefully the Breakout at GJCL goes well! It will be my first time hosting a workshop, period, and my first time leading a Breakout with students who aren’t mine. Wish me luck!