The simplest ideas are often the best

Well, now that I have switched back on again, I thought I would start things up again with something that happened this morning in the first hour back at school. My Terminale students, sweet as they are, have terrible trouble switching from positive to negative to present to past to future – simple grammar mnipulation stuff but which is actually really difficult. So I wanted to give them some practice – but in a fun way. Here is what we did.

Each student chose a verb from a pack of verb cards (all irregular verbs) and made a statement of his/her choice using that verb. We then moved things on by introducing a

I had anticipated the activity by selecting a time expression for each side of the dice, so

1 = yesterday

2 = tomorrow

3 = at the moment

4 = three weeks ago

5 = on Wednesdays

6 = next week

Other choices could be made but I wanted to cover past, present and future. So, when the students rolled the dice, they then had to manipulate the tenses to use their verb in the appropriate tense.

To make it harder still, I produced my cards. On these cards, I had drawn a plus sign, a minus sign and a question mark. For each student, they had to manipulate the tenses of the sentences and then also make the sentences negative, positive or interrogative. It was a fun and engaging game and at the same time, provided valuable practice for jumping from one tense to another.

The next stage (which we didn’t have time to do unfortunately) would be to get the students to write some of their sentences down from memory. Also, I had planned to split into smaller groups to avoid playing in a whole class situation and to increase speaking time, but again, time ran away with us.

Great fun – minimum preparation time – endless possibilities for playing this game over and over. And one final advantage, it is the sort of game which, next time, could be totally pupil-led. Always a good sign.