Hula Hoop Venn Diagrams- Environmental Issues

I feel like I start every post with “using an idea from….” but it’s the truth. I am an internet stalker. I look for your good ideas and use them in my classroom! But to be fair, I always try to credit the person I learned my new trick from! This one comes from the creative and extremely busy Linda Zins-Adams! Her hulahoops looked a WHOLE lot straighter than mine do… I think PE needs an anonymous hoop donor!! photo 2 (6)

photo 1 (6)

We’ve been studying the environment. I wanted to create a link between our environmental issues in southern IL and those in the rainforest of Panama. First, we had a guest speaker from the army corps of engineers who talked to us (in English) about the Kaskaskia River watershed and the problems with deforestation and siltation in our local lake. Next we did a reading activity with the transcript of this interview with a National Geographic Naturalist Guide from Panama in which we learned that we are dealing with many of the same issues! (watch out, I threw an extra L in the verb talar in one of the shots but it was so much work getting it uploaded that when I noticed, I didn’t change it.) After watching and discussing this interview, we needed a review to help us make some real comparisons between the two forests.

I typed out 20 different issues that were brought up by the two speakers. Some by both and some by only one of them… Students had two hula hoops and 10 minutes to create a Venn Diagram that accurately represented the environmental issues we had studied. photo 3 (4)

The students, in their Amazing Race groups, discussed where they thought each issue should fall, Panama, Carlyle, or both… Each group had a few different than the next! photo 2 (4)

The best part of the activity came as we collectively made the Venn Diagram on the board. The students were willing to argue, in TL, about why they believed one of the issues went in a different place than another group suggested! Our Venn Diagram complete, they did a formative assessment, a 10 minute timed writing on the similarities and differences in the forests of Carlyle and Panama. photo 4 (4)

Using our notes in the Venn on the board, they turned random thoughts and ideas into some really insightful paragraphs! It was a fun way to review with them and I think they are feeling ready to move on to a more detailed look into our forest and Panama’s this week! Our summative assessment will be to answer this video with one shot in the forest here in Carlyle. They’ll have to draw on the comparisons we have already made and maybe even make some new ones!

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

Leave a Reply