Thursday, February 9, 2012

Group Activities: Card-based activities


Chris here again. Today I would like to talk about a fun activity I recently created for a unit on relative pronouns and clauses in German. The activity is broad enough that you can apply it to practically any type of grammar or vocabulary exercise! Let's get into the activity...

I based this activity off of the mechanics of the card game war. The goal is to take away all of your opponent's cards. This concept could easily be employed in the classroom with students making some simple cards by folding a piece of paper and cutting/tearing it into 8 pieces.

One each piece of paper students where instructed to write a sentence with just the main clause while leaving the spot normally occupied by the relative clause blank.

Berlin ist eine Stadt,

Ich haben einen Hunder,

Dast ist ein Buch, 

Once students have all of their cards prepared they are then free to begin pairing up with their classmates. A student will present one of their cards to their partner. He/She must be able to complete the sentence by adding a relative clause. Students should not take longer than 30 seconds per card. If the student successfully completes the sentence they receive that card. If not, they must give their partner one of their cards instead. This process repeats itself and the other student in the pair now has a chance to present one of their cards.

Once each student in a pair has had a chance to present one of their cards the students are free to switch and find a different partner and then continuing on as before. If a student has no more cards then they are eliminated. The student(s) with the most cards at the end is the winner.

The benefit of this activity is that the entire class is involved, everyone has multiple opportunities to speak, and the students are presented with the target forms multiple times as they have to create their own answers spontaneously. This forces them to think and actively use the language.

I recently tried an alternative version of the activity which allowed for a nice transition to a homework assignment. How well students did in the activity would determine the length of the homework on an individual basis.

The activity was the same as above although this time the focus was on reflexive verbs. The other major change from the activity as described above was that rather than trying to gain more cards the goal was for students to actually try and get rid of as many as possible. If a student managed to end up with zero cards left they would have no homework! For this version, a student would present their partner with a card as normal (cards had a reflexive verb written on it). The partner would have to create a sentence using the reflexive verb. If the sentence was correct the student who presented the card would be given another card by their partner. If incorrect then the student presenting the card would be allowed to give away one of their cards. This would continue with students switching partners regularly.

After ten minutes or so students were asked to stop and count the number of cards they had. For each card students would have to write a sentence using the reflexive verb in a sentence. These sentences should be combined together to form a story if possible. Thus, the more cards each student had the longer their homework would be. Students were extremely motivated for the activity to try to get down to zero cards!

Hopefully you find the above activity useful!
Comments welcome!


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