Monday, August 31, 2015

Punch Cards in the WL Classroom

If you've been a World Language teacher for a while you're probably like me and tried using Euros as an incentive for classroom participation, winning games in class, or going above and beyond what was expected. You've probably even spent more than a few hours perforating the really colorful set from Teacher's Discovery, laminating them, and then cutting them out to provide to students. And, you've probably found several a few of them in the washing machine soaking wet when you forgot to remove them from your pockets. There is a new strategy to promote target language use and classroom participation and it's called PUNCH CARDS. Now, this doesn't mean you have an opportunity to knock a kid out when s/he isn't speaking the language you teach! All joking aside, punch cards are definitely rocking my classroom this school year.

What are punch cards?
Punch cards are cards that you create for your students.  They are usually rectangular or square shaped and they have holes or other images that can be removed with a hole puncher along the outer edges.

How to implement them in class?
This school year I created a version that has J'ai parlé en français.  Trois points de plus in the center of the card.  Along the outside I added 24 hexagons.  I specifically chose hexagons because this symbol refers to France and often times one can hear it being used in listening activities to refer to the country.  Once I liked the visual look of the card, I copied it and pasted as many as I could fit on one page and then printed several off on card stock.  The next thing I did was to go to Michael's to purchase a hole puncher that would create a specific design.  I chose one that cuts out heart shapes and it was a minimal expense at $5.99 (If you go online to their website they often have 40% off coupons).  PlEASE NOTE:  If you plan to use a regular hole puncher that creates circles, there's no way to gauge whether the student punched the hole or you did.  I was certain to choose something that would be almost impossible to replicate for this reason.

On the first day of class I included a punch card with each student's packet.  I then explained that as they are caught speaking French they would receive a punch on the card.  After a student receives 24 punches and all of the hexagons are gone they can then turn in the card to receive 3 extra points on an assignment.  The students were very excited and immediately wrote their names on the back of the card.  During partner and group activities I pull out my hole puncher and randomly create little hearts on students' cards.  Consequently, I'm finding myself saying "pas d'anglais" less and less and I'm hearing my students speaking the language more and more.

When to punch cards?
I have punched cards for the following reasons:
1.  Using the target language with a partner and with small group work exclusively
2.  Volunteering
3.  Rewarding the winners in a class game
I've also taken away current punch cards and replaced them with a brand new card if a student consistently uses English.

So far I really enjoy this method so much more than the Euros I spent so many hours preparing.  The plus side, too, is that I doubt I will find my heart hole puncher in the washing machine anytime soon!  Ha!

Have you used punch cards in your classroom?  Please feel free to share your experience in the comment section below.

This was a guest post by Madame H.  You can visit her Teacher's Pay Teacher's Store by clicking here to view other creative ways to share the French language with students.


  1. I love your idea but I am thinking that in my upper level classes it would be a lot of punching. I am considering the idea to use it in the opposite way. Since most of my students in the upper level classes speak Spanish always, I would use it when I catch someone speaking English. I am not sure how much I would penalize that student for participation grade, but it will serve, at least, as a visual for those students who believe they use Spanish at all times in class but they really don´t. What do you think? Too intimidating?
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. That is a very interesting take on this method! I say try it out and let us know how it goes. My Level 3 and up could do this too. Maybe award something to the person who has the least amount of punches per grading period? That might be good. Keep us posted!

  3. I actually do the opposite. I give them a card that is worth 100%. Each time they speak English, I punch a circle (using a regular hole punch) and each hole punch is then -5% (I deduct, this way I know they won't be punching holes on on their own). At the end of the week I have them put their percentage on the card, hand it in and I put it in the grade book. This is for my level's III and IV.
    Thanks for sharing. Sra. MRod.

  4. Sra. MRod I like your idea too! Thank you for sharing! It is always great to have more options!


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