Saturday, 24 March 2012

I can't believe I haven't already added these...

A couple more stand-by games that I'm sure that everyone already knows, but just in case (and also because a reminder is always handy!) It may be that I have already added these but I just skimmed over them when I went looking to see what was missing!

1) 20 questions.
I have already commented that I believe we don't give students anywhere near enough opportunities to practice asking questions - we tend to focus on getting answers from them. 20 questions is great for getting students to ask questions & think a bit laterally - even though it does focus on yes / no questions. I'm sure that the instructions for playing 20 questions are already online in a million places - let me know if you think it is worth adding them here.

2) Celebrity heads
Stick a sticky label on each student's back with the name of someone they all recognise - a celebrity, sports star, a well known TV / film character, even a teacher from your school. (it's best if the sticky labels are pre-prepared!) Students need to ask questions (again, often this is confined to yes / no questions) to work out who they are. In schools, celebrity heads is often played by seating 3 or 4 kids at the front of the class with the celebrity names written above and behind them - but this means just those 3 or 4 students get the practice asking questions. By putting a different name on each student's back, everyone is involved. I generally have some extra labels pre-prepared just in case anyone guesses super-fast. It can be great to get students to nominate celebrity names also - but you may need to vet them first.
There is some specialist vocabulary required (such as various careers) but this can be given out & often comes in handy when the students are talking about themselves or needing to describe others anyway. :)
I have occasionally used students' names as part of the mix for this game, but you need to know your students well to make sure that there won't be any hurt feelings. Putting a student's own name on their back can be fun too after you've played it a couple of times...

Order up!

Another game "borrowed" from peer support and a dozen other places.

I wrote numbers on sticky labels and stuck one on each student's back without them seeing. They then had to get into order from smallest to largest without using any English.

I have also done this by giving each student their number so they can see, but not anyone else - this way, I could avoid having one clever child simply moving everyone else into the right spot.

To make things harder, the numbers were non-sequential (with a couple of sequential numbers thrown in), and included some huge numbers that I knew they couldn't say just yet in the target language because I wanted to talk about problem solving when it comes to language.
very successful, got the kids out of the seat and talking to each other and there were some interesting solutions to communicating the large numbers - and yes, they did only use Indonesian :)

The more common context for the game is to get everyone in age order (or birthday order) without speaking at all. You could do the same thing for other sorting activities - eg, alphabetical order, or to get them into groups (eg types of animals - mammals, reptiles etc)

Any other ideas?

Not really a game, but...

I tried this with my new Year 7 class at the start of the week, and it worked well so I thought I'd share. I created a worksheet with about 10 speech bubbles, alternating from each side of the page (see picture). I gave the students a topic (in this case, getting to know you)and one sheet each and asked them to fill in the first speech bubble... then they had to get out of their seats and write something in the next speech bubble on another sheet, then another, and another and so on. It meant that they had to read what came earlier to avoid repetition and to ensure the conversation made sense.

The results? I saw students discussing the language they were using and correcting each other - and going back and correcting themselves. When something was (almost) unintelligible, one clever student used repair strategies ("Can you repeat that please?") in their written dialogue. Lots of learning took place from what was intended as just a variation on drilling the basic getting to know you language - and, what's best - the students really enjoyed it.