About a year and a half ago, in the summer of 2020, I dreamed up this idea for a game board choice menu I could assign as extra credit. The next semester I was teaching a level three class, so I started with one for that level. Since then I’ve completed one menu for each level of courses our school offers (four).
Each of the menus has five sections: reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar. Each section has four activities, for a total of 20 activities. I post a template link to the menu on my class Blackboard or Padlet and give the students the entire semester to work on it. Students can earn up to five points for each activity they correctly complete, for a total of 100 possible extra credit points.
I also aligned each menu to Common Core State Standards. While we don’t use these standards at our school, it did provide a good way to organize the different levels. Level 1 uses third grade standards, level 2 features fifth grade standards, level 3 continues with seventh grade standards, and level four finishes things out with ninth-tenth grade standards. (If you do use CCSS, and WIDA, see this blog post for a free alignment between the K-8 ELA CCSS and old WIDA I Can Statements.)
Each menu features practice with different activities and skills, and I encourage you to get all of the details from my previous blog posts (level 1-beginner, level 3-high intermediate, level 4-advanced). Many of the activities are smaller versions of larger activities my students and I enjoy in class. Probably the best part about them though, at least from a teacher’s perspective, is that they are all free and provide extra practice that is not just “fluff.” Here is what one reviewer had to say about them:
“I used Skillology 1 and 3 this week (ELLs at different language proficiency levels). I explained everything on Monday. I was out Tuesday – Friday due to proctoring tests. I was able to review between each day. Students focused on the tasks. Each student had to complete 5 tasks – one from each of the 5 skills. Thank you so much for these. I feel like I can use these again if I need to be out – definitely NOT busywork.”H. Prashker, 10-9-21
Now that you’ve heard the background, and been given links to catch up with previous Skillologies you might have missed, here are all of the details for level 2 (low intermediate):
- Proverbs: Words to Live By–This is a small sample of a board game I developed in response to my students wanting more speaking & reading comprehension practice, Proverbs from Around the World. Students read a proverb and explain in their own words what the proverb means/teaches. The full game is available in both paper and digital formats.
- Contranym Context Clues–The full game was featured in this November blog post, but this small taste asks students to use context clues to determine which opposite meaning should be applied to the underlined word in the sentence. Again, the full game is available in both paper and digital formats.
- Main Idea & Details– Students are asked to read an article, “What Are Clouds?,” from CommonLit, and complete a graphic organizer with the main idea and supporting details.
- Claim, Evidence, Reasoning– We spend a lot of time practicing this skill in all levels of my classes. In this activity, students are asked to read another article from CommonLit, “Play, Play Again,” and identify the author’s claim, evidence, and reasoning. It is a simplified digital version of the CER graphic organizer we often use in class.
- Sixty Second Summary– Also known as SSS in my class, this is a challenging activity in which students must read or listen to a text and then summarize it in sixty seconds or less. In this instance, students read another CommonLit article, “Fly High, Bessie Coleman,” and summarize it orally using Online Voice Recorder.
- Procedural– Taking an idea from one of our favorite preposition practice activities, Lego Preposition Build (the third activity in the post), students use the pictorial directions to help them orally describe how to use Legos to build an ice cream cone.
- In My Opinion– Students use Online Voice Recorder to record their presentation to a school board regarding whether or not a uniform policy should be adopted for their school.
- Persuasive– Again practicing using claim, evidence, and reasoning, students choose one of three statements to support and persuade others to agree with them on in a 2-3 minute speech. The statements are all taken from the larger game, Claim, Evidence, Reasoning: The CER Board Game (available in both paper and digital formats).
- Opinion Writing– Practicing claim, evidence, and reasoning once again, students will write a paragraph or more stating (and supporting) their opinion on a topic of their choosing.
- Informative Writing– Given free reign to choose their topic again, students will this time form an informative paragraph (or more). They are also encouraged to “cite” any sources by at least stating the name of them in the paragraph.
- Narrative Writing– This story can be fiction or nonfiction, but it must be at least one paragraph long and use correct grammar and punctuation.
- Dialogue Writing– Practicing both making inferences and the proper use of quotation marks, this is the only writing activity that is not in paragraph form. Students are given four pictures and they must provide a possible dialogue for the people in them.
- Similes and Metaphors– This is a tiny, three-part piece of a larger activity I describe in this December, 2020 blog post. Students watch three different movie/TV clips, identify which figurative language they hear, and explain what it means. The original activity is, like this Skillology, free.
The other three listening activities are all shortened versions of TED Talk comprehension activities. As I explain in this blog post, I believe listening practice should be as authentic as possible and find TED Talks to be an excellent source for texts. In each of the activities, students listen to the linked TED Talk and then answer four comprehension questions about what they heard. The full comprehension activities involve more questions.
- What You Might Not Know About the Declaration of Independence
- How to Practice Effectively…For Just About Everything
- How Miscommunication Happens (and how to avoid it)
- Compounding Conjunctions– The full board game is described in this November, 2021 post, but in this quick version students are asked to take one sentence and expand it into four compound sentences using four different conjunctions. The board game version is available in paper and digital formats.
- Past Perfect Travel Adventure– Another miniature version of a full board game, students write sentences in the past perfect about experiences from various places around the globe. The original board game is available in both paper and digital formats.
- Prefixes and Suffixes– There are two levels of these puzzles, and this activity features a small piece of the second level. Students match the affix, root word, new word (root word + affix), affix meaning, new word meaning, and picture to form a rectangle. The full set of puzzles is available in both paper and digital formats.
- Synonym Puzzles– In a second puzzle activity, students match three synonyms to form a rectangle. The complete set of puzzles is available in both paper and digital formats.
Creating these four English Skillology choice menus has been quite an experience. It was challenging at times, but I had a lot of fun. I love how I now have a way to deal with the ever present, “Can I do extra credit?” question that is effective and requires some real practice of important skills. While I don’t see more Skillology menus in my future at this point, anything is possible. Happy teaching, everyone!