Thoughtful language practice

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.

Let's Go Student Book 5 Unit 4

From Let’s Go Student Book 5 Unit 4 Let’s Read

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.


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2 Responses

  1. Nice one, Barbara. It’s wonderful to see how much they can achieve when they do something meaningful. Love it. I tried following the video – even I could follow it. Now I can teach Sophie how to make this origami fortune teller. Thanks.

    • Barbara says:

      Lovely! It’s a lot of fun to let kids pick their own fortunes to write under the final flap. Adults always write things like “You’ll become rich” but kids write things like “You’ll become a baby” and then find themselves hilarious when they read the fortunes out loud 🙂

      So, you found the video easier to learn from than the slides. I’ll pass that along, too!

      Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it! Hope Sophie has fun with her fortune teller.