I love adapting ideas because I think it is important to adapt them to my context. There are particular characteristics that I need to take into consideration like age range as well as the profile of the Ss or group.
Last week with my 9th graders groups I used some ideas from one of my fav resource books: Teaching Grammar Creatively. The great thing about it is that it is text based and Ss own texts come to live as well as setting the context for the use of the grammar in interesting ways. Needless to say that I have been highly influenced by Teaching Unplugged principles, so any opportunity to exposure students to the language, raise their awareness of patterns, focus on conversation (either orally or written) and using less material…the better.
Keep in mind that I am not copying and pasting the instructions here, but rather explanning what I did with them and how I adapted to my context of teaching as well as reflecting at some teaching/learning aspects and concepts I am exploring myself.
Can they work collaboratively while they are competing?
Before the Game: Discovery stage
The book suggests working with the hot seat. I did it just once in each group with a student that either volunteered or had the highest level of English. I recorded the interview and saved the audio for later. Then, right after the interview I elicited the information the student gave focusing on a particular day. I wrote each contribution/modified their utterances needed on the board (Oral stage with a focus on listening). As they listened and read the sentences/information on the board we focused on the language. I erased the board. After that in pairs, they had to write as many questions as they could remember from the interview. They wrote them on their notebooks. I elicited once more and instructed them to compare the sentences (correction stage) and add the ones they hadn’t written yet. All contributions were accepted. Then, I played the recording. They listened and checked the ones that were actually asked. Before erasing the board, I drew their attention to the past tense.
The Game: Consolidation stage
In the previous stage, I concentrated my questions on a particular day of the week. In this stage, I concentrate on a place. I wrote “Egypt” on the board, and drew pyramids. Following the authors suggestion, I asked them to ask me questions about Egypt, but instead of orally through writing. In all groups I did this, accept in one because it is 1-2-1 class. So I can’t use the game approach.
Setting the Game
Divide the group or as in my case, in couple of groups, they played individually (number of slips of paper were 8 instead of 16 for the pairs or groups of three). It is actually pretty simple and dynamic game. Racing against each other really gives the competitive flavour teens love so much. They had also to work collaboratively when they were grouped.
So, they came back and forth. If the question ws correctly formed (and also relevant), I would write the answer on it and that was counting as one point. if not, I would use one of the symbols and let them discover their mistakes and correct it. When the word was circled, it wasn’t necessary they need a whole new word. It meant actually that it might be a grammar problem (wrong tense, lack of s for plural, etc.) or vocabulary. Only at the last resource, I would actually give them more than that, which didn’t happen much. I would keep all the slips in my desk until they were finished. The first group to use all the slips of paper, won the game. It was quite interesting though to see them almost of the same amount of slips and racing against each other in a fun and collaborative way.
Do games foster collaboration?
Competition has an interesting role here. And inasmuch as I never liked putting them to compete, I have to admit that this is the kind of competition that is healthy and motivating. It really links to what they know best as most of them really like sports and they know that in order to win they need to work collaboratively, focus on the task, contribute, share, do their part. It taps their love for it and the rules of sports comes up easily as they are imprinted on them.
Back in the end of July I wrote Part 1 in which I reflected on the language aspect of using games in class. In this post, my reflection is on how competition can be benefitial, even when they are playing against each other individually. Then back in September because of a course I was taking, I reflected on how ludicity plays a role in language learning.
Games have always been an issue and not because I don’t like having fun, quite on the opposite. I just don’t believe that fun is a result of a game, but actually a state in which we throw ourselves into when we are with people that we enjoy the company and it has not purpose of winning. So, it is not just about games, it is a state of mind where playfulness and laughter is present at all times, especially when you are happy. You joke with words. You tease each other. You laugh. You even play silly games. This kind of playfullness is quite different from what we encounter in sports. Actually this kind of playing is serious game. Playfullness on the other hand, it might be present in the locker room, in the training practice, during the game itself.
In my journey to understand playfullness it is becoming clear as day that there is more to games in the classroom than the actually game itself. How about you? What are you thoughts on it? Please refer back to the previous post on the same topic to reflect on playfullness, ludic activities and ludicity.