Here is an activity I tried a couple of times with my teenage students. I decided to combine the test-teach-test approach with a fairly new feature of Quizlet which is Quizlet live. My students played a vital role in shaping this activity and so did my friend, Łukasz Knap who helped work out the technical kinks.
I was looking for ways which would help me introduce some more Use of English practice into my Advanced classes. My teenage students cringed each time I produced yet another sample paper worksheet and I slowly started cringing with them. The exercise that sent so many shivers down their spine is the following one:
Complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first one using the word given. Do not change the word given. You must use between three and six words, including the word given.
You must never let anyone use your Credit Card.
Under ____ let anyone else use your credit card. (NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU)
At the same time, I was introduced to another Quizlet feature by my friend and fellow teacher, Łukasz. By that time, I had already been familiar with Quizlet and its flashcard making feature. Still, I somehow failed to make the connection between this platform and more grammar-oriented exercises. It all miraculously came together after chatting with Łukasz and beta-testing the activity with my students. What you see below is is the improved version, tried and tested with actual teenage learners.
What you and your students need
- two copies of the Use of English part 4 exercise per student (Attempt 1 and 2)
- one mobile phone with internet access per student
- a teacher’s computer with internet access
Step 1: Test
Students work individually. They complete the exercise modelled after Cambridge Advanced, Use of English part4 (key word transformation.) They fill in – Attempt 1 – copy. When they are done, they put it aside.
Step 2: Teach
At this stage, this Quizlet set was used to create the Quizlet Live game. It contains the same sentences as the worksheet students had completed before. Tell your students they will be tested on what they larn in this part of the lesson.
First, you choose the Quizlet Live button.
Then you follow the steps until the game’s code appears on the screen.
Your students go to www.quizlet.live, enter the code, and type in their names (so far it sounds similar to Kahoot!) The game is possible with as few as 4 people present.
Once this is done, Quizlet divides students into teams (which are usually named after some cute or quirky animal, so be ready for some Alpacas vs Pandas grammar-off!)
Students sit together in their teams and start the game.
At the top of the screen, they see the phrase which goes into the gap in the second sentence:
NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU
Below they have to choose the two sentences which mean the same if completed with the phrase in bold. In this case, it is the pair below:
You must never let anyone use your credit card.
Under ____ let anyone else use your credit card.
The trick is that each person in the group sees different options from which they are supposed to choose so communication within the group is necessary to correctly choose the sentence pair.
Students work in teams and their progress is visible on the big screen: with each correctly selected answer, they move along a line.
The game finishes once one team wins. It can be replayed a number of times, which I strongly advise (especially that your students might also want a rematch.) This is exactly when the teaching happens, or rather self and peer teaching.
When you are done with the game, together you can analyze which questions were the hardest.
Step 3: Test
Students receive the Attempt 2 worksheet and work on it individually. Then, they compare Attempt 1 and Attempt 2. Finally, they check their answers with the Key and award themselves points.
Step 4: Feedback
I used the time remaining in the lesson to comment on each structure my students were expected to use in this activity. We went through our coursebook to locate where the structure is discussed and worked on some more examples. They also assessed the Teach stage of the lesson and said that going through the set 3 times made them aware of seemingly insignificant things they would have otherwise missed (articles, prepositions) and which would cost them a point in the exam.
This was one of the most interesting lessons I have taught this semester. First of all, it was informative to watch my students work with some unknown language on their own. They tried to modify their usual strategy (I don’t know what to write right away so I am just going to leave it/ write some nonsense to be done with it) and paid closer attention to the options available in the game.
Secondly, it was one of the moments when I removed myself from the crucial stages of the lesson and let them figure things out for themselves or together with other classmates. The stakes were higher than in a regular lesson where they complete a worksheet as, after all, they were in competition with the other team. It was definitely a worthy experience before the high-stakes exam where they can count only on themselves.
Finally, it was a lot of fun testing new technology in the classroom and learning about new solutions to tools which I thought I would not necessarily be that keen on (I know, an unpopular opinion!)
Have you taught an eye-opening class lately?