Do You Keep Secrets From Your Friends?

This game I invented was a huge hit in my classes. Easy to organize. Very engaging. Might help a few teachers who are looking for ways to keep CI going these last weeks of school.
Fun CI Game after Reading (adapt for age group):
Devise 10 (or whatever number suits you) opinion questions, which can be answered Yes or No, and which are associated with a character/characters from a book or reading – the more thought provoking the better.
These particular questions were inspired by different character’s behavior in a chapter in the book, Piratas. There were some personalized questions in the teacher’s manual that I revamped and expanded upon to make more applicable to my kids. A few examples:
• Raquel is attracted to guys who are not exactly “good guys”.  Do you believe it is possible for you to be attracted romantically to someone “bad”?
• Felipe and Antonio keep secrets from their friends. Do you keep secrets from your best friend?
•  Is it ok to lie to your parents?
•  When you tell someone secrets, do you do it more by texting/IM (writing) than in person/phone (speaking)?
I thought that the following game format, stolen from Sábado Gigante, might make the questions much more engaging for all.
Randomly choose two pairs of students. Team 1 and 2
The rest of the class has a piece of paper in front of them which they write on as the game proceeds.
The questions are written on folded squares of paper. I splay the questions out in a fan and ask the first team to choose one. I read it aloud to the class. (It is important that the teams are seated close to the front of the room, facing front–not their peers.)
The class then writes their answers silently on the paper in front of them: yes or no. Each student folds their paper down over the answer. It cannot be changed.
I ask Team 1:”How many students do you believe said yes?”  The two teammates confer to decide how many kids they believe have answered Yes on their papers. They must choose a number that permits the other team to guess at least one higher or one lower. They announce their number to the class. (The papers are already folded down and must not be altered. We actually practice this a couple of times before the game begins with innocuous, uncompromising questions. It is super important that they understand the question before they answer them–which encourages the kids to ask for clarification.)
Team 2 now must guess: higher or lower. Did more or fewer students answer Yes to the question than Team 1 estimates? The two teammates confer with each other and make their announcement to me. This could be done aloud or silently as you wish.
When that is done, I ask all of the seated students to stand if they wrote Yes on their papers to that question. They stand. We count in Spanish. They sit down. I walk around a little and do some checking to make sure kids who stood actually wrote yes and didn’t change their minds later. (If you had some sort of clicker thing in your room, this would be even cooler.)
Then Team 2 repeats the sequence above.
After each round/inning, the point quantities change: Round 1 = 1 point, Round 2 = 2 points, Round 3 = 3 points, etc.
The discussions in Spanish that erupted from this game were amazing. The kids were very invested and often quite surprised by the answers.
One question was, “Felipe is angry that Antonio reveals his secret in front of everyone. He then tells Anotonio’s secret to Raquel. Is it ok to reveal a friend’s secret to someone else?” (Remember that they are only twelve years old.) The teams were certain that everyone would say, NO. However, two kids stood up on yes. The teams wanted to know why. Both kids explained that if someone were to say they would hurt someone else or the school, that they would tell. Even in their rudimentary Spanish, their thoughts were important and listened to.
At mid-game, one of the quickest most articulate students said to me, “This is really hard. You think you know what people are going to say, but you really don’t.” A brief discussion on the importance of thinking through our actions and how they may affect other people ensued. I did it with my two most advanced classes. It was fascinating watching them make connections with their real lives in Spanish. Language was the vehicle to express opinions and think about life.



4 thoughts on “Do You Keep Secrets From Your Friends?”

  1. Ever since I read your entry, Jody, I have been jotting down values-type questions for my 4AP class. I can’t wait to try it out. My next step will be to do the same for my 3rd and 2nd year. Coincidentally the theme of the school yearbook this year is “A School Year of Secrets”. People were encouraged to anonymously submit secrets that are sprinkled throughout. It’s very engaging. Great idea! Thanks.

  2. A while ago, I picked up a game called Scruples at the second hand store for a dollar. There are lots of little situations like this listed (some of them not appropriate for class, so they have to be screened) and I sometimes pull one out for a discussion. Jody, I’m encouraged to hear that there are some difficult and complex evaluative discussions going on, all in Spanish! in your class.

  3. > It was fascinating watching them make connections with their real lives in Spanish. Language was the vehicle to express opinions and think about life.
    I just love this summary, the good questions above it, and this whole practice Jody describes. Why? Because it’s centered on real stuff people care about and “get invested in”. Like what is good and what is evil and why? What is correct and incorrect? Who says? The good boy or the bad girl? Or vice versa?
    > Even in their rudimentary Spanish, their thoughts were important and listened to.
    Hallelujah. Even in their rudimentary Spanish, their thoughts were important and listened to. So there’s room to say things we care about in this conversation? This is so great. Even in their rudimentary Spanish, their thoughts were important and listened to.
    I love trying to figure out what learners are trying to say when they speak rudimentarily, it’s such a great opportunity for call/response interaction. We end up repeating each other a whole lot while refining the sounds and words more and more, making sure we share understanding of the same message, while sneaking in lotsa imitation and repeats. And imitation. I don’t know if it’s correct. But it’s fun =)

  4. Jody,
    Thanks so much for this idea. My students just finished watching “Das Wunder von Bern” (The Miracle of Bern), a film about the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, which Germany won. I took scenes from the film and used them as the example of a principle to ask, e.g. Is it okay to lie? Is it okay to spank your children? Is it okay to get drunk occasionally? etc. We couldn’t do a lot of in-depth discussion because of language constraints (level 1), but my students really got into the game and dealing with the issues, and it provided me with more opportunity to give CI. Since today is the day before a long weekend and we had a pep rally, this was a fun way to keep students engaged.

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