In my previous post, I promised to write up any ideas from the Pedagoo Christmas party that I had tried out in lessons. This is the first of my gifts to teachers; simple ideas that you can take away and try the next day.
Post It Guess Who
Year 8 are about to do a reading assessment and, as is often the case, they struggle to talk about language in terms of word classes. The type of question they might be asked is: How does the writer use language to describe the other mother? (They’ve just read Coraline)Typical answers include: The writer uses scary words to make the reader terrified. What I am actually looking for is something more along the lines of: The adjective “red” connotes danger. By using this word repeatedly, the writer reinforces connotations of danger when describing the other mother.
Pupils can often be scared off by the names of word classes. This fun game reinforces their knowledge of which word class is which. It also encourages discussion about their fears in a safe, fun environment.
How to Play
As pupils enter, stick a post it to their foreheads. On each post it is the name of a character from the story. The aim of the game is to guess your character by following my instructions to gather information. Pupils are told that they can only speak in word classes and only the word classes that I specify.
Firstly, they are allocated a partner and they are to speak only in verbs to that person. They must describe the character that they see without giving the game away. For example, if pupils had Coraline, they could say, “walking, returning, running” as all of these verbs are actions that Coraline performs in the story. As pupils talk to each other, I can listen out for misconceptions about this word class. Pupils who do not speak in word classes are out of the game for round two. I keep these pupils near me to help observe. This means I can talk to these pupils and gain more understanding of why they did not speak in the correct word class. Did they not understand? They can join in again later once I am confident they are on the ball. Pupils who speak in word classes and have guessed their character in round one have to say the names of the verbs that led to their discovery.
Pupils only win a point if they can correctly list words from the specified class that led to the discovery. For example, if a pupil says, “I am the other mother.” But cannot tell me any verbs that might be associated with the other mother, they may have cheated. If a pupil says, “I am the other mother because I heard: creeps, schemes, plots.” Then they are a winner. As we hear each other’s verbs, we can discuss the connotations of the words that are being said. We can talk about how they make a reader see the character and we can identify if the writer actually used those words in his story. If not, why not? What did he use and why? Winning pupils can then help me out as extra ears for misconceptions in the next round. Round two is adjectives; round three is adverbs and so on.
Pupils quickly get the hang of the game and, after we have finished playing for characters in Coraline, pupils can choose famous characters or animals to play another game. This time the game is much harder to guess as you could be anyone. Just as before, when pupils list the words that led to the discovery of their character, we are able to discuss the connotations of the words and discuss what kind of character is being created; what kind of story they may belong in and what role they may play.
This is a great game for developing communication, encouraging pupils to identify word classes, exploring different semantic fields and building vocabulary banks. Pupils can use their other characters and the words they have collected about them to develop their own creative writing. It is also lots of fun and a winner at Christmas time.