Monday, October 12, 2009

The Five Minute Twitter Verb Crunch Drill

This is the outline of a five minute verb crunch drill I've been using with my Latin I, II, and III students. You and your kids will need to be comfortable using Diigo, Twitter, & Twitterfall, but the payoff has been great. My students practically beg to do the exercise and across the board I've seen kids' understanding of verb parsing go way up -- to the point now that much of the fear has been taking out of sight-reading (which is something every foreign language teacher will understand is hugely necessary).

I'll keep it simple; here's the drill:

1. Students open a passage or poem by whatever author you are working on. In my Latin III class, for example, the kids are going to be translating Horace's Satire 1.9. So they open up the text and open a Tweet feed.

2. Next, I assign each student five lines. They are responsible for highlighting each verb in their selection using Diigo.

3. Once the highlighting is complete, the students parse each verb (for example, in Latin the verb 'laudo' is parsed: 1st person singular present active indicative of 'laudare' meaning 'to praise'). The individual parsed verbs are Tweeted to our class hashtag.

4. As the students are parsing, I am running a live Twitterfall of their hashtag on the wall via LCD projector.

5. When time is up, (I'd say give 'em roughly a minute and a half per verb), we check the verbs as a class. Goodies (homework passes, free Internet roaming minutes, etc.) are given out to folks who either nailed all of their verbs or who improved from the previous day.

6. As we work, we reTweet correct verb parsings back to the feed. If we find mistakes, we fix them and Tweet the corrected versions back to the feed.

7. Finally, the students cut-and-paste the correct version of all of the verbs to their online notebooks (we use Google Docs).

This all takes about five minutes. By the end, the students have practiced their parsing, seen good examples and corrected errors, and have created a study list of all of the verbs in the selection that can be used to assist in translation.

Furthermore, they completed the drill using integrated collaborative real-time methods; thus instilled in the learning of the course content is the practical skill-building work of learning how to best use a network. And because this drill is done on a semi-daily basis, it doesn't feel like a 'tech lesson'; it just feels natural.

And in the end, each student has a copy of the original annotations in Diigo as well as a copy of the completed and corrected Tweets in their notebooks.

I'm sure this type of drill can easily be modified for other disciplines -- from vocab words in English class to major event chronologies in Social Studies to terms in Biology or formulas in Math and Chemistry.


  1. Great idea and excellent use of tablets and technology. I wish I could do this in my 8th grade English class, but alas and alack - no tablets.

  2. Thanks for this posting! I'm forwarding it to my Headmaster in my on-going crusade for cell phones and social networking sites in the classroom. Your blog rocks.

  3. Great tech'teaching! Inspiring...

  4. Awesome way to incorporate Diigo as it differentiates for multiple modalities and allows learners who need extra time and practice the chance to go back later and do so...and their peers have left them help! Very cool.

    I'm going to a wedding in Baltimore in November and would love to observe your classroom. My principal already approved giving me an extra day to do so. Please DM me on Twitter and let me know if you're open to that!

  5. Check out

    Interactive vocab games

    email if you want a screen name to create your own games.

    I like your idea posted above!!

  6. What a great idea! I wish all teachers were as innovative.

  7. if my teacher was anything like you, school would have been fun!

  8. I like this experiment, might try something similar with my class.

  9. What excellent teaching! THumbs Up, Thanks!

  10. Tell me, tell did you (whomever is responsible) get your school to open up all the sites you mention you use, especially social networking? We are forever blocked and hindered and stifled and gridlocked and obstructed......


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