Things I take to class #4: Something non-technological

You could play Grammar Casino on your IWB… but is it necessary? And does it add anything…?

Sure, technology is important and it should be used in our 21st century classrooms but not everything has to be technology and if you limit the amount it is used, you'll ensure that the technology doesn't take over from the language learning, which is what you're really there for.

I like to ensure that in every class I plan and teach there's at least something which involves no technology at all.

Below, three activities I've always done a lot, all of which have been around a long time and pre-date most of the technology we use in classrooms today.

Grammar Casino
Grammar Casino essentially involves "betting" on which of a series of 4-6 sentences are right, and which are wrong — as in the example in the image, above — with the "winner" being the learner or pair of learners making the most "profit" on their initial €10 [full explanation]. The €10 are not real, obviously!

Here's a fun alternative to grammar casino, which works best if your class is not too huge!

Dictogloss has been around for at least as long as Ruth Wajnryb's Grammar Dictation (1990) and is my all-time favourite classroom activity. But because there's an interactive whiteboard (IWB) in most of the classrooms I teach in, I confess I sometimes do dictogloss on the IWB, but think the use of technology proposed is still commendably limited.

The word "Dictation" seems to have roughly the same effect on people that chalk screeching on a blackboard used to have. I don't actually use the word any longer but say "Can you just jot this down?" instead.

Here you have an example of activity which involves a "dictation" stage; it obviously isn't a formal dictation, or one done for the purposes true dictation might (still) be used for.

You could, instead, go to the trouble of typing up and photocopying a worksheet with the questions on, but isn't "dictation" (or "Just jot this down") a better way to keep your learners active, engaged and energised?

10 things I take to class
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten

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  1. Grammar casino on the IWB? How¿

  2. On the IWB, with a small class, it does work (though the IWB isn't necessary, as I say).

    As in the screen capture, drag the coins out of the image gallery to mark the "bets" (on my eBeam it has to be €1 and €2 coins), and them mark your bets to show whether you think it's "right" or "wrong".

    Works best with a small class as then the whole class can discuss the answers before "correction".

    You could do it with a large class, dividing them into groups, but when two (or more) people have to come out and mark their "bets" it wastes a lot of time.

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