Varying classroom tasks is a great way to keep things interesting - for you as well as your students. Caroline Tillotson, Assistant Director of Studies at ADC, likes to twist "classic" learning games into something a little bit more creative to maximise her students' experience. Check out her tips below.
One of my favourite things about teaching is the creativity of thinking up new ways to exploit activities and help students to learn. Here are some variations on two "classic" classroom activities:
1. Activity: Find someone who…
"Classic" version: each student has the same worksheet with sentences, e.g. find someone who … hates spiders, loves coffee, etc. Students walk around and ask each other questions to find someone for whom the sentence is true, e.g. do you hate spiders? Yes, I do! When they find that person, they write their name next to the sentence and move on to the next one. There can be follow-up questions to find more information.
- Instead of having all the sentences on a worksheet, keep them on slips of paper on your desk. When a student finds the person they are looking for, they come to the desk and take another.
- Students each produce a piece of written work – a personal profile, for example. These are displayed around the classroom, with the students’ names on them. Students walk around with their find someone who worksheet and read to find the people they are looking for.
- Different question types – students can look for someone who knows what a word means or how to use a grammar point, or what the mistake is in a sentence. e.g. find someone who knows … If you are a CLIL teacher, you could include content here.
2. Activity: Hotseat / Backs to the Board
‘Classic’ version: students are divided in two teams, with one member from each team sitting with their back to the black/whiteboard. The teacher writes a word on the board which the teams must explain to the person who cannot see it. Of course, the teams cannot use the word itself or translate! The first of the two students with their backs to the board to call out the correct word wins the point.
- Write whole sentences on the board. This is particularly good for practising a specific grammar point, such as reported speech or indirect questions.
- Give the students in the hotseats mini whiteboards or pieces of paper and marker pens. Instead of shouting out the word, they have to write it and hold it up to show you – only award the points if the word is spelt correctly, of course.
- This is one of my favourite IELTS practice activities; draw a graph on the board which the students in the hotseat have to draw according to their teammates’ instructions. I usually insist that the teammates sit on their hands so they have to use their words to describe the graphs!
What about you? What variations do you have for these activities?
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