VINCO (a listening bingo-like word race) and more…

A review of three activities that worked very well in class. At least one of them, I believe, might be an activity of my own imagination.


Though I myself am not a fan of BINGO, my students have always seemed to love it. Though, in reality, the game offers little in the way of maximizing or repeating input, I think I may have found a way to utilize the game with comprehensible input.

First and foremost, I love the idea of word clouds and word cloud races, but just don’t have the time to get all the pieces of it together and pre-created on a normal day. [Additionally, I’d prefer a game or activity where more than just vocabulary is reviewed without context or negotiation.] This is where BINGO comes into play. By using online BINGO board makers – my favorite is Bingo Baker – I can quickly and painlessly create random boards for my students.

To make the boards, I used a story or text, chose random phrases, words, or short sentences from them to create the information in the boxes. I put English in the boxes. Though I didn’t do it yet, as the year progresses I might consider putting some false words, phrases, or sentences of a similar nature into the boxes as well.

During this example, the text the class created was based off a Personalized Question and Answer oral input activity where students were asked questions about what they have, what they want, how many, etc. The class answers were then compiled into a longer text. From this text, the above words, phrases, and sentences/questions were pulled.

I paired students off, then, while reading aloud the story or text in Latin very slowly, students raced one another (could also work as an individual game) to highlight the correct English meanings of the Latin words they hear.

As an input activity, students had already reviewed and worked with the content of the story or text until it was completely comprehensible. By listening carefully to the story or text read aloud, they were receiving quite a bit of input with which they had to negotiate meaning in their heads. The competition aspect just added necessary fun to the activity.

I had students work toward one or more of three goals while playing – to highlight five words in a row, to stop their partner from highlighting five words in a row, or just getting as many highlighted as possible as quick as possible.

As the year progresses, I am looking forward to combining this version of BINGO with their Free Writes – encouraging them to use at least some of their highlighted words, phrases, or sentences within their own work.

The students loved this BINGO update. They had fun racing their partners. The students were completely focused on the task of listening. And, when combined with a well created story or task, many of the boxes were repeated multiple times so students had more than one chance to claim a box.

* VINCO, in Latin, is “I win!” my personal favorite name for BINGO.

Story Scripts

After a disastrous run at Story Asking – I’m still not sure if it was me or the students or something else entirely, but Story Asking definitely did not go as planned – I was nervous to try a Story Script. However, I have to say, it went great!

I chose the story script “She Didn’t Want to Vacuum” by Ann Matava, edited it to fit our targeted vocabulary and structures as well as student interests. In this case, I edited it to use more of the “want, had, didn’t want” vocabulary as well as adding in some choice phrases from our daily “What are you doing today?” small talk questions and answers. I also made it less about vacuuming and more about washing a dog.

Before we began, I used a simple picture of a Tibetan man happily washing a very tiny, very angry dog to review some key phrases in a Picture Talk that I thought might have been forgotten by the students.

To start, I explained how Mad Libs worked for those students who have never had the opportunity to do one of those. I encouraged students to be creative and come up with some “very funny” answers to my questions in order to make this story as crazy as it could be. Maybe this is what made the Story Script work better and where the Story Ask fell apart.

Then, I asked the students to fill in some information for our class story: 1) A student volunteer to be our main character; 2) something that students really, really wants; 3) some random verbs of actions; 4) four phrases of things our character could be doing; and 5) a couple of favorite numbers.

After the class offered ideas and I chose the ones that I knew would work best, I took a quick moment to fill in the information to my already written out script. Then, I read the story aloud to the class. I added clarification or repetition where necessary if I saw the students frown in confusion or lose the storyline. When everyone laughed and “eww!”ed on cue, I knew I had them. They loved it! Begged to do it again with a new student and new phrases. We didn’t have time, but next time, I’m planning some extra time to let them do this is they want… what could be better than more repetitions?

As a follow-up I did a true/false activity in one class and a write/pass/draw activity in the other class. Both worked – the changes were made based on time left in class. Though not every student got all of it, they got enough of it and I kept their interest in our first longer sessions of pure Latin.

K-F-D Quiz

Since I need to quiz my students on our targeted vocabulary, I wanted to do so in the easiest, most comprehensible way possible, while still inundating the students with a ton of comprehensible input. Lance Piantaggini’s K-F-D Quiz was perfect!

I used a powerpoint of still frame clips from the Pixar short “”. Under each image, I added a short caption for those students stronger at reading right now than listening. Because our targeted vocabulary was focused on numbers, I used a ton of numbers and little else in the captions.

For our quiz, I read each caption aloud while pointing at the still frames. Then, I repeated the caption and added in some more of our targeted vocabulary or expanded background to the picture.

Students were allowed to write down the words they read and/or the words they heard. I gave them the option of writing down words, phrases, or full sentences. One, I was impressed how many students chose to write down more than one word at a time in either a phrase or a sentence – which speaks to a greater sense of comprehension than just the sole meaning of a random word. Two, when I repeated the whole series of pictures a second time – I was impressed with how the students handled me defining the words they didn’t know or forgot in Latin. They got it, along with more repetitions of the language.

At the very end, I did show the students the whole short video on YouTube. We all laughed and laughed. Then, we did an impromptu MovieTalk about the story at large – that wasn’t planned… it just happened and was awesome!

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