Wednesday, April 29, 2015

VERBA + more!

Have you heard of VERBA?  It is a fun card game created by Kevin Ballestrini, (@kballestrini on Twitter) originally in Latin, but now he is branching out to other languages. By some stroke of luck, Katherine Matheson, (@Katchiringa on Twitter), a Spanish teacher that worked with Kevin to create a Spanish set of VERBA cards, asked if I would be interested in Beta testing the cards with my Spanish classes. Of course I said YES! (Click HERE to read Katherine's blog post on using VERBA in her Spanish class.

In a few days the VERBA cards arrived and I adjusted my lesson plans for the next day.  For the first trial, I used the cards with my smallest class of 10 students.  After I explained the game, the students took over and there was very little for me to do other than enjoy watching the students play the game.  

The rules suggest that when the deck of cards is gone, the game is over and the person with the most cards is the winner.  Not in my class! The students took it upon themselves to shuffle the deck and turn it over so they could continue playing.  The odd sentence combinations that they made at times kept their attention and purposefully engaged in the game.  

If I understand Kevin correctly, he is planning on putting the cards on the market very soon (or maybe they are already available to order).  If you want a deck, connect with him on Twitter or go to the VERBA website for additional information.

In addition to playing VERBA, the colorful cards have a lot of potential for the second language classroom, such as "3 Rounds" described below.

3 Rounds game (Update: I later discovered that this game is known as Salad Bowl.)
The cards make the 3 Rounds game a no prep, fun activity.  3 Rounds is a game my family plays at holiday get-togethers in English, but I modified it for use in the MFL classroom as described below.

1. Players sit in a circle. Teams members are every other person in the circle.
2. Give each player 2 cards (if it is a large group of 15 or more, I suggest giving each player only one card)
I told players to look at their card. If they didn't recognize the Spanish word listed on the card, I allowed them to trade it in for another card.
3. Collect the cards and put them in a basket.

4. The first player (team A) pulls a card from the basket (and only that person should be able to see the card). The first player describes the word in Spanish.  His team members guess the word. As soon as they guess the word, he pulls another card and proceeds to describe that word. The player has 20 seconds to continue describing words.  
5.  When the 20 seconds are over, the 1st player passes the basket and the card in his hand if his team members did not guess it in time, to the person to his left.  The 2nd person then describes the words for 20 seconds and team B guess the answers.
6. This continues until all cards have been guessed.  Each card guessed is a point. Keep the score on the board.

7. Put all the guessed cards into the basket again.  Players have now heard all the words mentioned in the previous round so in this round, the person describing the words in the basket can only say 1 word to describe the word. 
8. Play continues as in Round 1 with teams taking turns describing. At the end of the round, tally the points for each team and add them to Round 1 points. 

Round 3 - Acting, no sound effects and no pointing allowed.
9. Put all the guessed cards into the basket again. Players have now heard all the words mentioned two times from Round 1 and Round 2.  For Round 3, players have to ACT out the word. I included the rule in ALL the rounds that players could not point to the object if it was in the room. If they did, the card turned into MY point.  :-)

This game was also a BIG hit! 
I played it with a level 4 class and they had no problem describing the words. Several days later I played it with a level 2 class and it worked well with this group too.

3 Rounds could easily be played based on vocabulary from a novel or a cultural unit.  

The VERBA cards could also be used to play Bolsa FEA.

I want to ask my students to do some brainstorming to find additional uses for the VERBA cards.  If you have any ideas. please list them below or Tweet them to me @sonrisadelcampo.  

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