Thursday, 31 May 2012

An alphabet game

This is a variation on a quick Number game that I have previously written about (instructions here).
I learned of this version at an AIM gesture method conference for French last year.

The idea is to get whole class participating in giving a word for each letter of the alphabet in order - but with a catch...

You start off with one person (and only one person) standing up and giving a word that begins with A. Then they sit down and someone else stands up and gives a word starting with B - BUT only one person can speak at a time, and no organisation of who will speak when is allowed. If two or more people stand up or speak, then it's back to the start again. No taking turns in a neat, organised way; no pointing or otherwise indicating who should speak... Yes, there will be a lot of times that the class won't get past the letter B - so you may want to have a rule that students may not use a word that has already been said for the letters you've covered in earlier attempts on the same day.

It was suggested that it's helpful to have a count-down from 5 if no one is offering a word for a particular letter - and if you get to zero, then it's back to A.   Sound frustrating for the kids? Yes, but they do really want to get there and will keep trying and trying.

Time is an important factor here - have a clear time limit (eg play with only 5 mins left of class once everyone knows the rules) and see how far into the alphabet your class can get - Keep a scoreboard and see if they can beat a previous record - or it's also great for inter-class competition - have fun!


Sunday, 27 May 2012

SHOUTING dictation

This is a variation on running dictation in a lot of ways, but even noisier. It worked fantastically well with my big Year 7 class, less well with my small upper school class (7 students).

I learned of this game via the amazing Moya McLauchlan - these are her instructions.

Shouting dictation - it's dictation; it's fun; and yes, it's loud. It's an information gap activity or barrier game for pairs of students that gets them into using language maintenance and repair strategies as they help each other to complete a written text.

How does it work?

Each student starts with a written copy of a text but the alternate lines are blank. Texts such as song lyrics, dialogues and poems work particularly well for shouting dictation.

Shouting dictation @ Scotch College
Student A

• Australians all let us rejoice
• ______________________
• With golden soil and wealth for toil
• ______________________
Student B

• _______________________
• For we are young and free
• ______________________
• Our land is girt by sea

Students take turns dictating the missing lines to their partner so that both end up with a complete text. They can't show the line to their partner, of course, and all communication must be in the target language.

Then there's the fun part. To make it more interesting and realistic (Imagine a conversation by telephone, in a crowded market, at a football game, in a nightclub.) students sit several metres apart in a noisy room. Music is especially good to create a noisy room.

What language skills do students practise?

• Listening and Reading and Responding
• Language learning strategies, particularly conversation maintenance and repair strategies.

We need to teach students the language for maintaining and repairing a conversation, for example:
• Please say it again.
• How do you spell .... ?
• Can you say it more slowly?
• What's the word/letter after ... ?
• Next line please.
• Is that P as in ... or B as in ...?

One word of warning, however: consider the classes around you before conducting a shouting dictation. At the very least, inform neighbouring teachers of the purpose and noise level of this learning activity.

Shouting dictation is a useful activity in any language learning program. Have you tried it?