I have been playing with language apps over the weekend. As you may know, if you have been on training courses with me, or in my classroom, I am an unconditional fan of Triptico. I use it in virtually every lesson, for creating groups, for designating students, for modifying seating plans in the classroom, for testing vocabulary, for practising questions … the list is endless. I am still discovering the full potential of the package. I have also introduced it to many fellow teachers and also to our English language assistants on our training programmes. I hope that through the use of this tool, kids will be having more and more fun as they learn.
I have been playing with Quizlet over the weekend and discovering what I can do with this tool too, in ways that will be complementary to my use of Triptico. Quizlet is a vocabulary learning tool and it basically creates virtual flashcards which can then be accessed by others to practice the vocabulary in game form. Teachers can create card sets but also students. They can share them among themselves and when they play games, they are given a score. these scores can be collated into a table, with classifications.
There is a free version of Quizlet and a paying version. I have actually opted for the paying version because I wanted to explore the potential of the voice function, which is available in the paid version only. But that is my personal choice. If you want to know more about Quizlet, you can find some examples that I have prepared for my students HERE as part of our e-book project. If you are interested in the e-book project itself, you can click HERE. You would be welcome to visit and any feedback before I go live with the kids next week would be appreciated.
For more information on using Triptico and other tools in the classroom, you might like to check out my “Technology in the Classroom” pages HERE.
I really like this activity that I am going to talk about now, called “My Writing Jar”. It involves literally a jam jar, filled with random (or seemingly random) words. The students pick out a certain number per table and they have to make up a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, incorporating those words. It is such a simple idea but it works brilliantly every time. You can vary it by getting the pupils to add their own words to the jar, if you prefer.
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.
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.