Sunday, April 21, 2013

Activity 24- Vocabulary Ping Pong

Here is another idea for a very dynamic activity that requires absolutely no preparation. Guess where the material for this activity will come from: students` own mobile devices! 

Level: any
Language skill: speaking
Focus: vocabulary
Device needed: any device with a camera

Number of devices needed:  one per pair of students
Internet connection: off


Use ping pong to draw a metaphor to this activity: students are competing against each other and they have to think fast while they alternate their turn in the game. In pairs, they should choose a picture from their own mobile device's photo library. Explain that the challenge is to point out as many vocabulary words as possible from the picture they are looking at. Remind them that words do not need to be about concrete objects and that they can use words that describe feelings or abstract things (examples from the picture I took a while ago: Student A: statue, student B: church, student A: tired, student B:  family, student A:  money, student B: music, student A: shopping, etc). Each student should say a word at a time. If a student is unable to say any more words, then the opponent is the winner in this competition. Pairs can pick up another photo and compete against each other again. 


-Model the activity before so that students understand how it works.
-You don`t need to set the time for each opponent to come up with a new word but remind them that common sense is a must. If  the student takes more than 15-20 seconds to think of a word, he/she should  admit the defeat.
-Since they are working on the activity in pairs and independently, set a 5-minute time limit and let them challenge each other as many times as time allows.
-It would be interesting to establish a rule: no naming body parts allowed in the competition. Otherwise, students might focus only on the body parts vocabulary. The idea is that they explore the picture as a whole. 
-This activity works better in tablets because the picture is larger and more details can be spotted.
-If the classroom has a projector and a VGA cable, you can project the photo on the board and turn this activity into a two-group competition. In this case, group members could raise their hand when it`s their turn to say a word.

Source: Vinicius Lemos

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Activity 23- What is Bernardo Doing?

Here is an idea for a class project young learners will definitely love! It requires the parents` participation and might take up to a month, so plan it carefully before you carry it out. 

Level: beginning
Language skills: speaking, writing
Grammar Topic: Present Continuous

Device needed: any device with a camera
Number of devices needed:  one per student 
Internet connection: off

Bring a stuffed animal to class and explain he/she will be part of a very special class project.
Bernardo is the stuffed bat I own which was used in this activity. Reinforce the idea that their commitment and engagement will be essential to the successful completion of the task and that you believe they will be able to carry it out responsibly. Then, explain that each day a student will be chosen to take the stuffed animal home and take some pictures of him/her doing different things (ex: sleeping, watching tv, doing karate, having dinner, playing video games, etc...). Remind them that there is no limit to their creativity and that they are going to choose how they want their pictures to look like. Then, explain that their parents should send the pictures to the teacher`s e-mail address and that they will be used in a class activity after everyone has completed the task. Then, after you have collected all the pictures, show them to students and elicit sentences in the Present Continuous ("What is Bernardo doing?"). This can be done orally or you can ask them to write the sentences in their notebooks. 

-Contact parents beforehand and explain the purpose of the activity and how they should help.
-Show students a few examples of how their pictures should look like. It`s always a good idea to model it before!
-Ask them to keep their photo shoots a secret. In class, comment you are getting very creative and sometimes funny pictures. This will boost their excitement and interest in the project!
- You don`t need to use all pictures you get, but make sure you use at least one from each student.
- If you have a very large group, you might consider using more than one stuffed animal  to make it more dynamic.

- Have them write sentences instead of just saying them out loud.
-Have students ask each other Yes/No Questions (ex: Is Bernardo skateboarding?)
-Save the pictures to practice other verb tenses they already know or might learn in a future lesson (ex: using the Simple Present to describe Bernardo`s daily routine or using the Simple Past to describe what Bernardo did yesterday).

I tried this activity with a group of mine and here is what I concluded:
-They absolutely loved the idea of taking the teacher`s stuffed animal home. They were always excited to know who the next one to work on the task would be and they reported they loved spending one or two days taking care of Bernardo as if he were their little brother. 
-Students improved rapport among themselves and got to know a bit more about their classmates since many pictures, in a way, revealed their personal tastes and habits (Ex: some students took a picture of Bernardo playing their favorite sport or eating their favorite food).
-Parents responded very positively and enjoyed helping and being engaged in their kid`s school project.
-They developed a sense of ownership and active participation because they were entirely responsible for all the material produced and used. 
-Students had a chance to practice and learn new and more meaningful vocabulary.
_Students reported it as being a very "cool" and different "homework" and that they would love to work on another similar project.

So, how about trying this project with your own group of young learners? Everyone, including you, will have a blast!

Source: Vinicius Lemos