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Sam Simian 02-04-2008 12:28 AM

Quick Teaching Ideas
3 Attachment(s)
When I teach comparatives, I usually elicit “animals & adjectives.” Students give me the names of animals, and then I write them in a circle around the edge of the white board. After that, I elicit a list of adjectives — one-syllable, two-syllable ending in –y, two-syllable not ending in –y, and three-or-more-syllable — that can be used to describe animals. Next, we write the number of syllables after each adjective. Then, after modeling some sentences, I have students use the animals and adjectives to write sentences. You can do similar things with “foods & adjectives,” “cities & adjectives,” “movies & adjectives,” etc.

I usually teach equatives (as X as) and superlatives the next day. I draw four cartoon characters (including a caricature of myself), and I list their age and I.Q. After that, I write “tall,” “old,” “heavy,” “sexy,” “handsome,” “cheerful,” “beautiful,” and “intelligent” on the white board. It’s important that one of the figures is the Xest (or the most X) and two figures are as X as each other. Then, I use questions that require a comparative, an equative, or a superlative in the answer. Next, I have them write sentences about the cartoon characters with comparatives, equatives, and superlatives.

Finally, after eliciting some new adjectives (or “recycling” adjectives from the day before), students discuss things like their hometown VS where they live now, food in their hometown VS food where they live now, movies, education, family members, etc.

I’ve found that this is both comprehensible to the students, and it makes studying comparatives, equatives, and superlatives a little fun.

Sam Simian

Maria 03-06-2008 11:24 PM

We had a bit of fun today in my intermediate grammar class. We were reviewing different ways to show and ask about possession: It's mine, Whose is it? , That's John's, etc.

I had a bag, and I went around to each student asked him or her to drop some personal possession in the bag without revealing it to the others. Then I placed all the objects on a table, and all 16 of us sat around the table.

One student would get up, go pick up an object and ask who owned it using some of the target language. The others would guess, or direct questions to each other (Sue, is that watch yours?) After two or three exchanges, the real owner would stand up to claim the item. It was amusing because I told them to try to put something that would unique, like sunglasses, a baby photo, a special lighter, in order to make it more interesting. In the future, with more prep, I'll have them bring something from home that has a story behind it so we can tell the stories as well.

Maria 03-18-2008 10:52 PM

Question Formation Practice
Just finished up a chapter on questions in my intermediate grammar class and wanted to review in a fun way.

So I found some untraditional photos on-line- the more bizarre, the better- and then broke the class into teams of three. Each team got the same 3 photos. They had 15 minutes to write down with as many questions as possible about the photos. (Be sure the photos include people doing something.) The chapter covered all kinds of questions, from simple question words to "How long does it take", and the activity gave the students the freedom to create a wide variety of questions.

At the end of 15 minutes, I asked them to exchange papers with another team. They checked each other's work and put an X next to those questions they believed were formed incorrectly.

Finally, I threw each team's questions on the document projector and quickly ticked off the correct ones, totaling for each team, and giving extra credit points to the team with the most correct questions.

It was quite intensive practice and really got them discussing question formation and trying out new structures and forms.

Sam Simian 07-19-2008 07:21 PM

A Fun Review Game
1 Attachment(s)
Dear Teachers,

This is virtually identical to something in the following thread:
This game does take some advanced preparation the first time you play it, so, in that respect, it isn’t a “quick teaching idea,” but, after the first time, it doesn’t take much time to get ready. It’s a good way to review what you have been studying, and it’s a good way to get students laughing and talking. It’s an extremely modified version of the game “Cranium.” I won’t explain “Cranium,” but you do need to be familiar with it, so look at this site:

It’s easier to, just, buy a game to modify — that’s what I’ve done, but that isn’t necessary; you could make your own. You will only need a board, game pieces, paper or a white board to draw on, and a die. You will not need the cards: you are going to make your own cards — or you can just make up your own questions as the students play the game. The Wikipedia page (above) has a very detailed picture of the board (And I attached a picture, below.), so I think that it would be fairly easy to make a DIY (do it yourself) version based on it. The Cranium die is cooler than a regular die (And it better suits the game.), but you could use a regular die and assign a different color to each number — for example, 1 = red, 2 = yellow, 3 = green, 4 = blue, 5 = purple (a brain), and 6 = roll again.

Divide the class into teams. (There can be up to four teams.) Assign a different category to each color: red, yellow, green, and blue. I like my games (and my classes) to be a combination of serious learning and goofy fun, so I mix the two up. Here’s an example of categories that I’ve used with one of my classes (a level 2 class in a program that has 5 levels):
RED (“factoid-ish”): Correct the mistake in the sentence on the whiteboard.
YELLOW (spelling): Without writing anything or using any other aid, spell a word forwards or backwards. (The point of backward spelling is to “handicap teams” — by making the spelling harder — and to induce mistakes that cause good-natured fun.)
GREEN (pictionary): Without speaking or writing any words, draw pictures to elicit the comparative on the card — for example, A is bigger than B, X is more intelligent than Y, or 1 is sexier than 2. (You may, or may not, want to restrict the students’ ability to point to things or people in the classroom.)
BLUE (charades): Without speaking or writing any words (It’s OK to make sounds.), elicit the place on the card — for example, a laundromat, a hospital, or an amusement park.

In my experience, this extremely modified version of Cranium is easy to adapt to your level and what you’ve been teaching, it’s a good way to review what you’ve taught, it does not take much prep’ time — other than the first time, it’s inexpensive or free, and it helps students both learn and laugh uncontrollably. In other words, I think it’s great game to use in your class. Give it a try.

Sam Simian

Maria 07-20-2008 05:22 PM

Great Game
Your game sounds like a lot of fun. The shy students probably hope they will get a Red, while the jokers likely hope to get all Green and Blue! I like the mix of different skills for different kinds of students. Thanks for taking the time to share this.

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