Monday, May 16, 2016

Picture Relay Races

One of the biggest challenges for a teacher using CI (quick overview here) is providing the optimum number of repetitions so that vocabulary remains comprehensible while still remaining compelling. The goal is repetition without being repetitive. 

Because of that, I am constantly scouring the blogs I follow and collecting activities to use in my classes. And sometimes I make something myself, which I then share with all of you, because sharing information and ideas is why the internet is my favorite thing in the universe (followed shortly by quantum entanglement and the word "stultiloquence"). 

This semester, as part of my resolution to slow down and make sure all my kids comprehend everything, I'm taking time after we introduce new words to add in extra practice, but, to make sure it doesn't get repetitive, I'm working to make sure that every repetition of a story or vocabulary is different. I've set a goal for myself (which I haven't achieved this year, so it will be a goal for next year too) to avoid using each activity more than twice a semester. I need a LOT of options.

Last week, I was looking for something active, like a relay race. My students have been testing now for several weeks, and I wanted to give them an outlet for energy that was not only pent-up, it was suppressed. 

But I couldn't find anything that worked exactly like I wanted it to. I really wanted something that felt like a relay, but provided an extra repetition for a story we had been working on. 

Finally, I found if I meshed concentration with running dictations, I got something that would take up only about half a class and allow my students to walk around! I named it picture relay races, and it was surprisingly easy to set up once I figured out what I wanted to do. Which is good--I didn't figure it out until about an hour before my first class started.

Basically, students are matching pictures to sentences from the story, and have to show understanding in their matches. 

A pile of sentences students must sort through!
Preparation
  • I broke down the story into ten important sentences and drew pictures for each of them (I am the queen of stick figures. I can draw just about anything as a stick figure). Feel free to see the break down and pictures here.
  • I copied the sentences onto ten sheets of orange paper and the pictures onto ten sheets of blue paper (school colors ftw!). This was more than my number of groups, but that doesn't matter because they just have to work harder to find sentences and pictures!
  • I cut the sentences in one mass thanks to our beastly paper cutter (one of the best I've ever used--it is SHARP) and the pictures in one mass too. They can be all mixed together within their categories.
In Class
Students were instructed to get into groups of 3. Then (after some finessing at the conclusion of my first class) the rules went:
One team is almost finished!
  • The first student chooses one sentence from the sentence pile (piled on a desk on one side of the room). If the student is not sure about the meaning of the sentence, he or she can check with the group.
  • The first student then chooses the picture that matches that sentence from the picture pile (piled on a desk on the other side of the room).
  • The first student brings both pieces of paper to the teacher to make sure they match. If they do, the student takes them to his or her group. If they don't, the student must take the picture back and try again.
  • The group keeps the correct match and sends a second student to choose a sentence and picture.
  • The first group to get all ten matches wins.
Prizes!
This is really just included because I got a great idea for prizes from a teacher commenting on the facebook iFLT/NTPRS/CI teaching page. A teacher there commented (if anyone reading this can give me her name, I'd love to have this correctly attributed) that she uses bubble wrap and the little packets of air that come with things she has shipped to her as prizes in games. It's genius! Between offering packets of air and stickers as prizes, there was complete prize buy-in. Usually the prize is "a sense of pride" but I was feeling generous.