Thursday, March 2, 2017

Word Chunk - A fun, minimal prep game/activity

I first heard about this from one of Ben Slavic's dvds that I purchased ages ago.  I have since experimented with it in my classes.

While you could simply do it as a quiz or silly assessment with your students, I prefer the group activity.

My students on Fridays have PAT. So they already have groups. You could easily have them form the groups that day for the activity. Mine have to say a group chant and have a group name already established so that we can simply play this game.

So while I could have a list of every single word we have gone over for the year (or for years if they are in Spanish 2 or another level), I prefer this on the spot activity.

Students took 4-5 small pieces of paper and wrote down 1 thing on each one in the Target Language.  In Spanish 2, they wrote 2 nouns and 2 adjectives.  In Spanish 1, our structures we were practicing also required an additional verb.  So they wrote 2 nouns, 2 adjectives and a verb.

I might give them a minute or two to get those written out.  I proceeded to tell them that they had to get into their groups and to put their words in whatever category they belonged to.

Then I projected the story structures we had been going over. I explained briefly that the game was called: Word Chunk. And they had to work with their groups to translate the word chunk into English.  While we often tell stories in class (giving language in context), I let them know this would be language without a whole lot of context and at times nonsensical (although grammatically correct). So they had to work with their groups to figure out what it meant.
I would draw a few from the piles and come up with a sentence on the spot using my story structures for the week as a guide.

So for example if my story structures were: he/she was walking, I might write on the board 2 nouns, 2 descriptions and a verb. Then I could manipulate the verb.

I then turned it into a string of Spanish words:
the fat cat was dancing [with] a yellow store.

The groups would confer then raise their hands. Then I would call on them to answer. They would do their group chant flawlessly or I would move to the next group who was ready. If they didn't get it right I would go to the next group. When a group got it right, today I awarded them with 2 dart throws. I have a cheap magnetic dart board.

You could do basketball or anything else. Even a giant foam dice roll.  Anything to give them the chance to get more points.

It went relatively well and I didn't have to prep very much at all for it aside from cutting out the scrap paper to be quite small.

Some variations:

  1. have students do this as a class whiteboard activity
  2. use this as a formative assessment/quiz for the day/week
  3. have students race against a partner to see who can figure it out first
  4. have students race to the board to write the answer first (a la board races)
  5. have students draw these and show the best ones to the class, etc
  6. instead of darts, do anything else that you have handy (basketball, giant dice roll, baseball)
  7. if basketball, you can vary that activity: choose place to shoot from for bonus points; can shoot for 1 minute once they get 3 questions right. And they get all the points scored during that minute for bonuses.
  8. You could keep track of every word known to man your students know and have these drawn out of a bank at random based on certain categories if you're more organized than me!

The entire idea is to be able to do the activity multiple times in the year but without it getting dull because you're changing one facet about it.  Obviously you can't do it every day, but I like it because it's helping them really LISTEN to the language and figure out what is being said.

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