When we talk about the different buildings in a city in German 2, I usually throw in some directional vocabulary like "Turn left at the stop light" and "It's on the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue." It's really important, practical vocabulary that doesn't actually appear in our curriculum, and it leaves things open to a lot of fun games.
This year I also threw in a scavenger hunt through the school. Students weren't following clues to find different objects - instead they were given a set of directions and had to use those clues to get to the correct parts of the school.
French 1 covers similar material at about the same time as my German class, so the French teacher and I created five different sets of directions together, each giving directions from the same starting location and going to five different rooms in the school. Before giving them free rein, however, I did a quick "training" - this was a shorter set of directions that only took them to three rooms within our hallway.
Turns out this was pretty important - one group misunderstood the word "Flur" and another had problems with "vorbei." One group was also uncertain as to whether they needed to start the next set of directions from the room they found or the original starting point (they start from the room they found). Finding these problems early on when I was nearby made it a lot easier to fix.
Students were divided into groups of 3-4 and set out to find the rooms. I staggered the start times so it wasn't too crowded at the starting location. Each group received a list of directions and a map of the school. In addition to finding the five rooms, I also instructed them to take a picture of the room number to verify that a.) they had actually been there and b.) they had found the correct rooms. When going over their results, this makes it easier to spot when they made mistakes (if any).
Using cell phones to take the pictures was pretty convenient and the kids had fun with it - a couple groups did selfies with theirs and another group managed to get pictures of what was going on in the classrooms they found. One group opted out of taking pictures - instead they wrote down the room numbers on their sheet.
We used basically a whole class period. The training session probably took ten minutes to get all the groups through. Groups had varying amounts of time to do their scavenger hunt because of the staggered time, but even the last group had 25 minutes to do the activity. The fastest group took 10 minutes to finish while the slowest group wasn't able to finish (they only found two of the five rooms).
In case some groups were faster than others, I had extra copies of all the direction sets. This way if group one finished their set early, I could give them group two's set of directions to follow. With the staggered start times, there weren't any problems with groups catching up to each other.
How to set up this activity for your school:
- Get blank copies of your school map. I wanted five different sets of directions plus one "training" set, so I got six copies.
- Highlight five different rooms in the school. Make sure to have them spread out, be both upstairs and downstairs, and go in different wings/departments of the school.
- Figure out which room they will visit first. I didn't make the order the most straight forward - they might end up doubling back to a room they'd already passed.
- Write out the directions. Because I was going for a practical application, I tried to make them as straightforward and direct as possible. They weren't going in circles around the building just to get from one room to another and I wasn't given them the longest possible route.
- Make sure you have enough copies of each set (at least two sets per group)!
|Sample of how my answer key looked - each color represents a different set of directions and each number shows if it's the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. stop on their trip.|
Checking Your Directions
Because this is my first time doing this activity, I wasn't a hundred percent sure I'd written out the directions correctly. German 3 and 4 were more than happy to lend their services - during AP testing this week, we had a lot of students out so I let them try out the scavenger hunts ahead of time. They helped me find some typos and some errors (more than once I said right when I meant left and vice versa). They were incredibly helpful and had a lot of fun :)
It might not be much of a surprise, but the upper level classes were able to complete the scavenger hunts much faster and with a higher level of accuracy (their mistakes were usually related to typos as opposed to misunderstanding the directions), even though some of them hadn't seen the vocabulary in two years.
Timing didn't quite work out for us, but I would love to do some prep before hand to give students a stronger foundation before sending them out to do the scavenger hunt. I was thinking of giving students maps of the school ahead of time and having them write out directions from one classroom to another. I would probably have the whole class writing out the directions at the same time, racing to see who could come up with the simplest directions the fastest.
Instead of having students looking for rooms, the original idea was to direct students to random parts of the school - not necessarily rooms. At the various locations, I was going to put up a word. If students found the correct places, the words they found would spell out a phrase. Each group would have a different phrase, making it easy to check. But to make sure students weren't just looking for words, I thought I'd have to put up "fake" words nearby to throw students off.
In the end, although I liked this idea, it seemed more complicated to implement since I'd have to come up with phrases, fake phrases, and then physically go to each location beforehand to hang up all the words.
- Frau Leonard