I’m always looking for ways to add a “thinking” dimension to class activities, and if I can do that with a lot of speaking, and reading, and writing practice then I’m a happy teacher indeed!
This activity was very simple. I told students that I wanted them to create a “how to” project and present it in two formats. That was the language practice. Then, they compared both presentations and decided which approach would be the most effective method to teach someone else. That was the thinking practice.
Of course, students had already read and followed the instructions in other “how to” articles, like this one about creating a tornado in a bottle. This practice helped them learn the language they would need in order to create instructions.
Then, they chose their topic, in this case, “How to make an origami fortune teller.” First students made fortune tellers and came up with the English they’d need for their instructions. Then, they worked together to write their instructions in a list. Since this pair was mixed age, it was natural to assign the older, more advanced student the role of writer. The younger student in the pair helped come up with the language, but this division of labor made the challenge more equal.
Next they chose their two formats. Their first choice was video. The younger student read the steps from their list, and the older student provided the model.
The second format was a Power Point presentation combining pictures and text. In dividing tasks this time, the older student typed the text into the text boxes and the younger student coordinated the photos.
In our next class, we watched the video and the slide show and compared both to see which one would be the best way to teach someone else how to make a fortune teller. Their final choice? The power point presentation because people could spend as much time as they needed to understand each step.
If you’ve never seen a fortune teller in action, here’s a video showing one way we used them to practice vocabulary.