Simple games can provide opportunities for language experience, explicit teaching, coaching and collaboration. Here’s a simple one I was playing recently. You need 45 minutes for crafting, reviewing, revising, sharing and feedback.
Start with two sentences:
Jack went up the hill. He found Jill.
What to do
Organise students into pairs or groups of three and explain:
Your task is to work with others to enhance the sentences by improving vocabulary, working on the sequence of words or groups of words and providing detail about your ideas which enable readers to imagine what is happening.
Your improved sentence should be interesting and grammatically correct. It must also make sense. Take care if trying to be funny … your ideas must make sense.
Walk students through the task, one step at a time and allowing time for small group discussion. You may wish to follow the sequence below. As students share their ideas, move around the room offering feedback, encouragement and coaching.
1- Copy the sentences.
2- Cross out the word ‘went’ and substitute another word. Read your sentences to make sure they make sense.
3-Add one word to describe the hill. Read your sentences to make sure they make sense.
4-Add a word to describe either Jack or Jill. Read your sentences to make sure they make sense.
5-Make one sentence. (Note: most groups substituted the word, ‘and’ for the full stop.) Read your sentence to make sure it makes sense.
6-Remove ‘and’. Add one or more words to make your sentence sound right. Read your sentence to make sure it makes sense.
7-Add words to describe what is happening on the hill. Read your sentence to make sure it makes sense.
8-Think about how your sentence sounds. You may swap the order of words to improve how the sentence sounds. Read your sentence to make sure it makes sense.
9-Reflection: Do all the words you’ve added connect with other ideas in the sentence? Read the sentence carefully. Check that all the words and ideas make sense together.
Sharing, reflection and feedback
Each group reads their sentence innovation aloud and receives feedback from the group and the teacher. Scoring aspects of the sentence is a fun way to support students to improve. For example, Tier 1, or everyday words score nothing, but Tier 2 and 3 words, which are more sophisticated or specialised, score one point each. That is, ‘pretty’ scores no points, but ’stunning’ scores one point; ‘walked’ scores nothing, but ‘ambled’ scores one point.
Other examples may include:
-an original idea scores one point,
-swapping a phrase from one part of the sentence to another scores a point,
-correct tense throughout scores one point.
It is great to focus the point system on the mini-lessons you’ve been providing. This provides opportunities for students to apply their learning and for you to monitor progress.
Here’s an innovation from a Year 5 trio below:
As Jack staggered up the incinerated hill, he found sweat-covered Jill, pouring pails of water on the raging fire.
This is loads of fun, so have a great time!
Do you have a fun lesson to share? What’s working well in your classroom?