Quiz quiz trade revisited

Over – gulp – five years ago I wrote this blog about things I’d tried in the classroom and enjoyed, or felt beneficial.  Most of them I no longer do. I’ve lost my dice, somehow.  It’s quite moving to reread my own enthusiasm from my NQT year.

Snakes and ladders I recently did again as a no-planning revision activity that worked quite well, but we had to borrow dice from a colleague when I discovered halfway through the lesson that mine were missing. It involved a plain snakes and ladders grid with the numbers 1-30. Students spend the first half of the lesson in pairs producing 30 target language sentences with their English language translation, then the second half with another pair playing snakes and ladders. To successfully land on a square a student has to do the translation from the other pair’s list. This has the benefit of a) making them look in their books for 30 minutes and b) getting them to encounter slightly less familiar language from someone else’s book. Mine were a young class so I relented and they did 15 key words from the topic and 15 sentences.

Top tip on dice – buy foam dice. They’re cheaper, and they make much less noise than a class set of heavier ones.

Anyway, quiz quiz trade.  I have quite a lot of sets of cards I have made and I still use this fairly regularly with most of my classes. The  basics are in my original post, link above, and there’s a one-slide instruction powerpoint included in my TES resource on where you live in German.

If you are struggling with students going off task whilst doing this (it’s a moving around the room task, some students use this as an excuse to natter) here are some strategies:

Employ a TL police officer – allocate one student to take names of people not doing the task properly and have a moderate sanction.  I’m sure you can think of a child in every class who is reasonably well liked but who would jump at the chance to dob in classmates. #stanfordprisonexperiment

Set a target – each person must trade at least 7 times in the next 5 minutes.

Join in – have a card yourself and be part of the activity.

Make explicit what they need to know –  there will be a quiz at the end and if you don’t know then sanction.

Deploy inside/outside circles – if you feel the need to be much more in control then instead of allowing the students to roam freely, you put them two lines facing each other and then control who moves, eg one person from line A goes from bottom to top, line B doesn’t move. Everyone does their trade simultaneously then they move as instructed.

Have a plan for what to do at the end. – eg recently I was practising opinions about school uniform in German that practised a variety of opinion structures: ich mag / ich mag… nicht. Ich liebe/ich hasse … gefällt mir (nicht). ich trage (nicht) gern.  At the end they needed to write down 8 examples that got one of each structure.

Anyway, the main point of this was to talk about a series of QQT activities I have been doing recently and enjoying and which the students seem to have got a lot out of too. It can be quite time consuming…

The start of this has to be where the entire class has been writing their own sentences using reasonably constrained vocab – enough for everyone to have written personal sentences, but so that everyone has used the same core language and no-one has gone massively off-piste and written something so personal no-one else will be able to understand it.

For example, a German class has been writing opinions about food and using adjectives to make comparisons. So they have all been working with the same opinion structures, the same list of food words, the same list of describing words – delicious, deliciouser, crispy, crispier, juicy, juicier.  With some support they can all recognise all of these words and structures.

From the sentences you then get the students to write their own QQT cards with TL sentence at the top and English at the bottom, and, crucially a big space in the middle. I havae been doing this on single-sided A5 scrap paper.  (The first few times this takes quite a bit of explanation, but we get there eventually.)

They play QQT as the plenary to one lesson, and then you collect in the sheets as they leave.  You then divide the English from the TL and sort through the TL to make any corrections as necessary.  I have also been typing up the list of TL sentences for use later on.

The following lesson, students collect TL and English sentences at random so that each student sentences which do not match.  Whilst you take the register they think in silence about what each of their sentences would be in the other language.

The actual activity is then aural dominoes / follow me. A student reads her TL sentence, all students look at what they have in front of them, and the person who has the English puts their hand up, reads it out and moves on with their own TL sentence.

In the classes I’ve done this with recently, it’s been quite engaging. Easily enough to get students past their natural antipathy of speaking foreign out loud and almost enough to get a chatty class quiet. In one younger class where it took longer than 25 minutes and I felt it was dragging a bit, I tried to end it prematurely only to have the students insist we continue to the grim end and give every single person the opportunity to read their TL sentence out loud.

And the typed up selection of sentences?  So far I’ve used them in a couple of ways. One class needed refresher revision – they did the first stages before Christmas, and then after the holidays I gave them a selection of sentences back as a translation task.  For another I am holding onto them and plan to use them for the 1 pen, 1 dice translation task that is presently all the rage.

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Zentangle Club

I started a Zentangle club at school on a Monday lunchtime so students can learn about creating Zentangle doodles, edging into mindfulness occasionally, but also just sitting quietly and drawing of a lunchtime.

I started by making a poster and offering lunch passes so people could get through the dinner hall quickly.

My other extra curricula club -  mindfulness and doodling with Zentangle.

The first two weeks, we watched the videos that came with the Zentangle Apprentice kit, all the way from America!

The week after that I made this card to show all that we had learned. The third week, loads more people came, so this card was really useful! I will have to photocopy more when we get back to school.

Summary of what we have learned so far in Zentangle Club.

I think after half term I will go back to basics and show the videos again for the new people.

My only criticism of the Zentangle Apprentice materials is what to do after the children have learned the first 8 tangles. There is clearly lots of potential from just the first ones, but what do we do after that?

At first I thought I would show some more of the Zentangle videos on Youtube in subsequent weeks, and I wondered about borrowing the departmental visualiser and projecting live images of me making tangles.

Then I wondered about making a few cards like this to project in subsequent weeks which give a bunch of new tangles with instructions.

Seven tangles for tomorrow's club. So much more fun than marking.

This didn’t work massively well – perhaps we just need a bit of time working on how to understand the instructions?

Ultimately, I would like to have a huge selection of tangles, each one drawn on a blank 8×5 index card, so that students can pick and choose from the instructions and see what they would like to draw today. Before long, the students should be able to help make the cards themselves, but until then, I’ve had a very happy half term making designs of my own. Each card I have made has the step-by-step instructions and then a sample completed tile using the new tangle.

BETWEED
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

FESCU
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

FLORZ
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

HUGGINS
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

MIST
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

NIPA
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

NZEPPEL
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

PARADOX
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

VEGA
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

W2
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

ZANDER
8x5 cards for Zentangle Club index card box

Teaching through the medium of paper planes

A blogpost on compelling starters suggests getting kids to make paper planes with three facts from the last lesson on it.

Making paper planes is definitely an activity that is very popular with students. One of my own strong memories of school was my last ever geography lesson, which coincided with the last lesson that teacher would teach, as she was retiring. By the end of the lesson, we were in two teams hiding behind desk fortresses throwing planes at each other. And our retiring teaching was flinging them with the best of us.

I have used them to teach past tense in French – and have been really chuffed with answers to the question “what does paper planes have to do with the past tense?” “because we THREW them not THROW them.” The activity came from a “diverse ways of teaching new language” session on PGCE and leads the children through a target language sequence, with overblown gestures so they get what activities to do:

Je prends une feuille de papier >> J’ai pris une feuille de papier
Je signe mon nom >> J’ai signé mon nom
Je dessine une maison >> J’ai dessiné une maison
Je plie un avion >> J’ai plié un avion
Je lance mon avion >> J’ai lancé mon avion
Je ramasse un avion >> J’ai ramassé un avion

This was less than perfectly successful. My students do not have enough of a culture of target language, so activities out of the blue lead to vocal complaining. Also, unbelievably, not all students know how to make a paper plane. (“If you don’t know how, I’m not going to teach you. Make a paper ball instead.”) But the biggest problem using this as a starter is that it winds them up something chronic and it is then very hard to calm them down sufficiently that you can even talk to them, let alone task them with something constructive.

Despite the difficulties I repeated the activity with three different classes and by the end I had a killer top tip for using paper planes.

Since I had heard reports that the planes were leaving my classroom and then getting students into trouble elsewhere in school, the last instruction related to planes that I gave was “throw the planes at me.” (Met with incredulity. Seriously sir? Are you sure? And we’re not going to get in trouble?”)

The reason for doing this is this: one, they are itching to do it anyway, so you might as well give them an excuse. But two, it means all the planes end up at your end of the room and out of their hands, all the better for moving on to the next activity.