Today in class, we did just a fun, undemanding task for a cold Monday. We just talked about what makes you happy. Everyone was chatting away and having a good time. I don’t go into the class with any specific lists of words or structures to teach or material (thank you Dogme), and I just sort of pick up where the students leave off in class discussions.
It combines 3 great simple task types: listing, ranking, comparing. These 3 in this sequence are great week-starters as they give the teacher lots of chances to interact with students on a more personal level, and students appreciate easing them into the week. The effects are evident in the following classes- unless it is a test week.
Materials: None! (Thank you Dogme)
Pre-task: Teacher-led brainstorming (listing)
I treat brainstorming very much as a classroom discussion most of them time. The idea here is to make use of all the students’ life experiences to introduce vocab. Students will learn words from each other as you write them on the board. Of course, you can clean up any errors that appear. You can also add other words that come to mind while talking with the students. I failed to take a snapshot of the board, but I will recall some of our list here.
kids’ happiness, good students, husband’s payday, snowy days, shared experiences and feelings, good movies (books/movies), less homework (training program, so they have had to put in some time with homework), music, good food, good wine, teasing Matthew, exercise, IIETTP (name of the program), ‘me’ time, vacation/travel,…
We spent about 15 minutes. I followed up on some of their ideas getting them to expand on things, and sometimes they would follow up.
This is great way to ease into a lesson and loosen things up a bit.
Main task: Rank
Depending on time you can do a variety of things here. Typically, due to time, I put students in pairs and have them work together to make a top 10 list of things that make them happy. Top 10 lists can be a bit daunting for some students, so I usually go with pairs. But it would be perfectly fine to have them do this on their own for a few minutes and then get with their partner at which point they would compare and re-rank to collaborate on a top 10.
Students have to work with each other and express agreement or disagreement here. They have to concede a few things here and there. This is good for social skills of course. All in all, usually a pretty active main task, and it was today.
Students find a new partner and compare the two collaborated lists. They talk about what is similar/different. It inevitably leads to a little expanded discussion on a few of the points.
If you wanted the students to be a bit more focused on writing something, they could transfer their lists to a Venn diagram to compare more explicitly. For teachers that are expected to spend some time on structures, introduce a few sentence prompts that can be used to compare their lists. Something like:
- I have tease Matthew at number 5, but you don’t have it. Why not?
- I see that you ranked ‘me time’ at #1, but for me it is #2. I think ‘exercise’ is more important, because…
I usually have the students take pictures of their post-task partner’s top 10. Then, after comparing with another pair, students write sentences using the content in the two lists. The use of Venn diagrams makes this writing exercise a bit easier as well.