Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Games, competition and fun, fun, fun!

Hello all!  In MFL we use all sorts of strategies to engage our learners; much of this is centred around games, competition and fun activities - all ways to 'con' our learners to learn!  As an MFL teacher, I was trained to use these types of strategies most of the time, but today it was brought to my attention that perhaps colleagues in other areas might benefit from these types of activities and it doesn't do any harm to be reminded of them too, so below are some common strategies/games we use in MFL to keep the little darlings engaged!

This underpins everything.  Everything is about competition.  Every game we play earns the winner teampoints.  You pit one side of the room against the other.  If you are brave enough, you pit the girls against the boys.  You can go for 2 teams or more.  (I like to keep it simple by having 2, but have been know with lower sets to have more due to there being fewer of them and it being easier to handle).  I keep a tally of points on the whiteboard; just a simple cross with A and B at the top works, or you might want them to take ownership and choose their own team names - this could work well if you get them to choose something relevant to the subject they are learning.  It is a brilliant classroom management tool; give points for working hard, being first to hand books out, best group work etc. Also you have the opportunity to take points away for poor behaviour etc.  So what becomes of the points?  I like to start by just letting the winning team from the lesson be the first to leave the room, singing 'Wir haben gewonnen/Nous avons gagné' because I use it as a linguistic opportunity.  Later on, I like to develop a chart of some kind, where the 'wins' are accumulated and the winning team at the end of the half term wins sweets or merits or something.  You can make it cultural, topical etc.  In MFL, we might have the Eiffel Tower to 'climb' - first to the top wins.  You could do anything, really!  They really enjoy it and it makes learning fun.

Simple but effective, and great for AfL.  Simply put pictures or questions, for example, in a traditional noughts and crosses grid; number the squares and the teams take it in turns to answer the question or say whatever is represented by the picture.  Winning team gets 5 points.

Brilliant game.  You can do a grid or a line.  Put a selection of pictures or facts on the board and give each one a number.  Pupils choose, say, 6 numbers and write them down.  You call out something which links to one of the pictures or facts and if the pupils have the corresponding number, they cross it out.  First to get a line or full house etc wins.

Don't worry, this is not what it sounds like!  Same idea as above, but you give them a strip of paper, divided into six for example.  Pupils write the numbers on in each segment.  When you call out the information linking with something on the board, if the corresponding number is at either end of the paper, they fold it under itself, revealing a new number at the end, until they have folded over all their numbers and you have called out their last one.

Like the game show, have a grid of hexagons; Click here for an interactive grid I uploaded onto TES. (there must be scope here for some SOLO hexagon work!).  In each hexagon put a letter.  Team A goes from top to bottom and Team B goes from left to right.  When they give you a letter, you ask them a question.  If they get it right, the hexagon is coloured in their team colour.  If they get it wrong, the other team can answer, thus blocking them if they get it right.  It can take quite a while at first and they can get quite competitive, but it is a good way of consolidating work at the end of a topic.

These have become invaluable in the MFL classroom.

We like telepathy, where the teacher 'thinks' of something from the topic and writes it down on a mini whiteboard.  The rest of the class has to write down what the teacher is 'thinking' of.  When the answers are revealed, the winners get teampoints!  A great plenary. Another version of telepathy is where you write something down on the mini whiteboard and the pupils take it in turn to guess what you have written, thus recycling what they have learnt previously.  For each wrong answer, you draw one of the components in a hangman gallows.  They have to guess what you have written before you complete the gallows.

Write it once, say it x3:  This is great for recapping and revising key terms, for example (or for MFL  - vocab). In pairs, 1 person has to choose a word and start writing it in the mini whiteboard.  His/her partner has to try and work out what is being written and say it 3 times before they finish writing it.

There are many more whiteboard activities - maybe I will blog about more another time.

The above activities can all be played in small groups too, which makes for smooth transitions and ... more fun!  The main thing is, the pupils are enjoying themselves and are hell bent on winning.  What they don't realise is that you have created these activities to con them into learning - what's not to like!

Please comment below, if you have done a variation of the activities above and you would like to share.

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