I was first introduced to the idea of Quickfire Challenges by Leigh Graves-Wolf who was using them in Michigan State University's Masters in Educational Technology Program. This presentation adapts and expands on Leigh's ideas (and those of other MAET instructors and their students) for use in world language classrooms. - chericem1 chericem1

Key Concepts

What research-based concepts provide the foundation for this session?
  • Creativity - Creative self-expression supports knowledge integration
  • Flow - Key principles for keeping students engaged and "in the zone"
  • Motivation - The whats, whys, and hows of breakdowns in learning
  • Multiple Representations - Changes what students can see & understand
  • Networks of Conceptual Associations - Critical implications for approaches that are likely to facilitate language acquisition and vocabulary development
  • Transliteracy - Carefully crafting multifaceted, layered learning environments and experiences empower students to change the world


What is a "Quickfire Challenge?"

Quickfires Explained (Blog post by Leigh Graves-Wolf)


How do the key elements of a Quickfire Challenge work together to produce a meaningful learning experience?
  • Purpose (drives the content, process, tools, and final product)
  • Constraints (support creativity by establishing specific limits re: "ingredients," theme, time, tools)
  • Content Creation (a critical element of synthesis and personal integration of content knowledge & skills)
  • Social Sharing (promotes sharing of expertise with authentic audiences, along with expansion of personal learning networks)

What does this diagram teach us about the elements we should consider when constructing Quickfire Challenges (and when evaluating the content of student-created products)?

  • Content
  • Process
  • Tools
  • (All anchored in a meaningful purpose)

Used with permission from Punya Mishra & Matt Koehler http://tpack.org/

Demo Challenge

What does a Quickfire look like, feel like, and sound like in practice?

Creativity Quickfire - Great for developing students' communication skills

Key Principles for Making Quickfires Work

How can tweaking our pedagogical practices improve the quality of students' work during Quickfire Challenges?

1) Talk less, plan for students to do more

2) Simplify instructions (Words, words, words!)

  • No more than 5 steps
  • No more than 7-10 words per step
  • Model FIRST
  • Write key words on the board or on a ppt slide
  • Use images to support comprehension

3) Scaffold
  • Where is the activity likely to break down?
  • What supports can you add into the structure and processes of the activity to maintain "flow" for students?

4) Don't pre-teach vocabulary--let students learn it through the activity

5) Activities should build to a final creative product that invites self-expression


(Note: Most of these Quickfires were generated by instructors in Michigan State's Masters in Educational Technology Program (#maet) as tools for helping students to develop skills with particular technologies. Look at the diagram above and brainstorm how you might add linguistic and cultural content and your knowledge of second language acquisition and pedagogy in order to repurpose these activities for use in a world language classroom.)

Abstraction Quickfire (Digital Camera) - How could you turn this into a language learning activity?

Acrostic Quickfire (Photography, Copyright) - Great for getting to know students at the beginning of the year (Sample)

Album Cover Quickfire (Image Editing) - How might you continue the pattern established by these instructors in order to add language and music elements to this assignment?

Capture a Concept (Video) - Click here for more ideas for implementing a challenge similar to this one in a language classroom

Demotivational Posters (Images) - Would your students enjoy doing this activity?

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (Article + Video ) - How has the teacher structured this task to increase students' engagement with and understanding of the reading?

Disney Dilemmas (Variety of tech) - How do each of these challenges promote different kinds of language development?

Explore, Create, Share (Video) - How might videos like this assist students in developing conceptual networks around verbs in the target language?

Feeling Hot . . . Hot . . . Hot (Image Manipulation) - What ideas does the first example give you for your classes?

Google Teaching Academy Quickfire (Video) - This Quickfire offers great practice in creating "instructional" videos with conceptual depth

IgniteLansing: Clearing Hurdles in a Wheelchair (PowerPoint & Screencast) - Compare this example with the next one. Note they both follow the same format (1 topic, hobby-based, unique personal insights, life lesson, 15-20 slides, rotate automatically every 15 seconds)

IgniteLansing: Food Photography (PowerPoint & Screencast) - What did you learn about teaching as you watched this presentation? (1 topic, hobby-based, unique personal insights, life lesson, 15-20 slides, rotate automatically every 15 seconds)

ISTE Tech Skills Challenge: Remixing Anew (Audio clips) - How could grounding a quickfire challenge in audio support students' language learning?

MAET Jing Off Quickfire (Screencasts) - Could your students pull off 6 screencasts in 60 minutes? (Inspired by Jing Speed Series)

Quickfire Stop Motion (Stop Motion Video) - What could YOUR students do with a poem in the target language?

Remix, Reuse, Recycle (Video) - How might you use an assignment like this to help students gain a deeper understanding of cultural practices and perspectives?

Remixing, Recycling, & Reusing to Create New Visions (Video, Conceptual Reinforcement) - How might you use a similar assignment in your classroom?

Storybook in 5 Items - How might you repurpose this activity for a language classroom?

TeensNTech List of Projects (Variety of Tech) - How might you repurpose some of these for your own classroom?


How can I create my own Quickfire Challenge?
(Templates are provided in both PDF and DOC formats so you can adapt them for use in your own classroom)

- Designed to help you plan a Quickfire Challenge in a very short amount of time

- Download and adapt this document to reflect your own curriculum/textbook, then use it as a "menu" for planning the conceptual, content-related core of your Quickfire Challenge

- Download and adapt this document to reflect YOUR favorite teaching approaches, activities, materials, and methods, then use it as a one-page reference guide (photocopy front and back) when you are preparing students for Quickfire Challenges

- Use this template to help you scaffold Quickfire Challenges


What free tools might I use to assist students in completing Quickfire Challenges?

  • AheadLogo.jpg - Create dynamic, non-linear presentations (similar to Prezi) with this flash-based tool

  • AnimotoLogo.jpg- Upload photos, select your music, and then it will turn them into videos

  • BeFunkyLogo.jpg - Photo effects

  • BigHugeLabsLogo.png - Create badges, billboards, CD covers, collages, cubes, jigsaw puzzles, magazine covers, mosaics, movie posters, trading cards, and more

  • BlabberizeLogo.jpg- Take any image, add a mouth to it, record something for it to say, and watch it become a moving conversationalist!

  • bubblePLY_logo.gif - "Write" on online videos by adding pop-up speech bubbles and effects, then save and play

  • DumprLogo.png - Make coloring books and other interesting things from photos, save as JPEGs and use as illustrations for assignments or worksheets

  • EdmodoLogo.jpg - Collaborative social community (a la Facebook) for students and teachers in educational settngs

  • FlashpaintLogo.jpg - Flash drawing editor

  • GliffyLogo.gif - Create diagrams, graphic organizers

  • GoogleDocsLogo.gif- Free, online, collaborative suite of office tools (forms, presentations, spreadsheets, word processing)

  • wave_logo_product.png- Collaborative software (games, playback, threaded conversations, whiteboard)

  • ImageChefLogo.gif- - Dress up photos with interesting frames and your own captions, then save and share

  • IssuuLogo.jpg- Create your own, digital magazines

  • LetterpopLogo.jpg - Create newsletters with photos from templates and host up to 10 online for free at any given time

  • MixbookLogo.jpg- Create and share photo scrapbooks online (you can also print them)

  • MotivatorPoster.jpg - Create motivational posters by adding your own photos and text

  • OurStoryLogo.jpg - Create collaborative timelines with text, photos, and videos. You can also choose a type of album, answer questions, and it will generate it for you

  • PikistripsLogo.png - Create your own comic strips

  • PreziLogo.jpg - Create dynamic, non-linear presentations and concept maps

  • SnapshirtsLogo.jpg - Type in text, it generates a tag cloud you can print on t-shirts

  • StorybirdLogo.gif- Students can select illustrations from real children's picture book illustrators, then use them to illustrate their own, original stories. Diacritical marks must be cut and pasted in (via Word, for example)

  • stroome-masthead-logo.png - Collaborative video editing

  • SuperstickiesLogo.png- Put your own text on a Post-it note image

  • TagulLogo.png - Make tag (word) clouds in different shapes

  • ToufeeLogo.gif- Make flash movies for free

  • TrakAxPcLogo.gif - Free audio/video editing software you can download and use to make mashups

  • VocarooLogo.gif- Click, record, share

  • Wallwisher - Collaboratively "graffiti" by posting "stickies" on this online "wall"
  • WeeblyLogo.gif - Free, online website creation

  • XtranormalLogo.png- Create mini, animated videos (or greeting cards) from stock elements
    • Camila y Gozo - Sample conversation between 2 roommates made in Xtranormal (in Spanish)

  • WixLogo.jpg - Create free flash websites

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