Tips from teachers

The following ideas come from teachers who have tried them in classroom:

  • Scavenger hunt. I used this with my AS [Year 12] class the other day and they loved it. The rules were they had to stick together on school site  and not disturb anyone. Prizes given for quickest back with a correct / full set of answers, for who went furthest and lastly for most interesting answers. Questions were along the lines of ‘Find an auxiliary verb’, ‘Find a warning without an imperative’, and so on. My class got really competitive and it was nice to have them looking for language around them in an active way. (Chrissy
  • I-spy word-hunt. I use mini-whiteboards for this one (which they adore – makes them feel like Year 7s again), but it can be done on paper as well. Choose your word class and give them an outline of what it is: for instance, I’d take proper nouns, and explain that they’re people, places, times, things, etc, specific to the individual, and give a couple of examples (about 2 minutes teaching). Then get them working either individually or in pairs, give them a letter and give them a minute to write down as many proper nouns (or whatever) beginning with that letter as they can. They get points for the number of correct words. (That’s why mini-whiteboards are good: you can check them at a glance.) (Sue)
  • Lap-snap. Sit them on chairs in a circle (no tables) and play the lap-snap game (patting legs with both hands twice in a row, clapping, and then a finger-snap, in four-four rhythm) but on the finger-snap, each person in turn has to name an abstract noun/preposition/pronoun or whatever you’re teaching them. If they fail or repeat one already mentioned, they have to sit on the floor. The winner is the last person left on their chair.
  • Grammatical Consequences. That can be targeted at their current knowledge, adding one or two extra bits of instruction in the appropriate places. You play it the same way as ordinary Consequences – that is, each group writes a word/phrase as appropriate, then folds over the paper to conceal what they’ve written before passing it on to the next group – but instead of the X met Y at Z, he said, she said, etc, you give them a grammatical category each time, making sure that your instructions make syntactic sense. (It’s also sensible to put a couple of prohibitions in place: I forbid them to use the names of anyone in the school, and with KS3 [Y7-9]  players, ban all sexual and toilet references!) So you might give the following instructions:

Proper noun
Transitive verb, simple past tense
Plural common concrete noun
Subordinating conjunction
Pronoun, subject case
Intransitive verb, past continuous
Adverbial of time
Adverbial of place

And you might get something like ‘Prince Charles ate elephants although she  were screaming yesterday at school.’  They’re often very funny, and you can also discuss why certain sequences don’t work (so in the example above, you could look at the difference between singular and plural auxiliaries, gender-specific pronouns: they’re always fascinated to hear about languages which don’t have them, or which are even more specific than English – and so on). (Sue)


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