At the end of every year, I have students reflect on their experiences in class and write a brief blurb about those experiences for the yearbook. At the end of this year, one of the questions I asked was, “What was your favorite activity we did in class?” Almost half the class began their response like this:
“Remember that day you were absent?”
As you can imagine, I had to take a moment to recover from a severe coughing fit that resulted from me choking on my pride before I could hear the rest of the response: “We liked the game you left us.”
Aha! I thought, my ego slightly assuaged. I made you that game so that means you still like me!
When I have to miss class, I try to create fun, engaging activities that the subs won’t have any trouble giving my students. That way subs have less work, students have fun, and then I won’t have to listen to their complaints when I return. This particular time, I was out all week for a conference, so for the first day, in addition to their lesson, I left a Goosechase game.
Goosechase is an app for creating digital scavenger hunts. The teacher has to create the game on a computer, but then the students play the game with an app on their cell phones. With the free version, there can be a total of five teams, and those teams complete writing, photo, and video challenges within the app. The first team to finish wins! (Although you can set it to just be participatory if you’re not into the whole competition thing).
You can make any challenge you want, but there is also a large bank of ready-made challenges to pull from, which is primarily how I made this game. Some of the challenges I used were take a picture with three people from three different continents (which is easy in ESL class!), make a pirate hat out of newspaper, sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” on video, and ask another teacher a scandalous “Have you ever” question on video.
It wasn’t necessarily tied to any lesson, though it easily could be, but it was a lot of fun for the students, and I was able to monitor their progress in real-time through the webpage, even though I wasn’t there.
Students can’t see each other’s entries, but the teacher can through the website. So if you want to and have the capability, you can project the Goosechase website so all the teams can see the funny videos and pictures submitted.