Engaging grammar group activities (even for hesitant students)

group-work

Engaging group work

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

Group work in a grammar class can be a powerful learning tool if it is carefully structured.  The format for the activities that I’ll present here has been effectively used with students from lower level to advanced. And the structure of these activities makes it easy for even the most passive students to be active; in fact, many times, the normally quiet students seem to shine while doing these.  Another positive aspect of these is that they are non-threatening for students to engage in.

Here is the basic format:

  • Students are put in groups of three (or four): Student A, B and C.
  • Each student is given a paper that is composed of two sections:

(1) The bottom half is a worksheet with a set of items/sentences.  These are the same on everyone’s paper.

(2) The top half are a set of questions related to the items in the worksheet.  These questions are different for A, B and C.

  • They take turns reading their questions, and they fill out the worksheets, helping each other when necessary and confirming that they are filling the items in correctly.
  • Students A has the first question, B the second and C the third etc. This way, they are all required to speak and stay engaged. Also, they are asked not to look at each other’s paper.

Sample Activity

To illustrate a short form of the activities, I’ve put the three students’ papers together.

This example would be for lower-level students.  It’s is a review of simple/compound sentences and prepositions.

             Student A

These are sentence and questions about the worksheet.  Read your sentences and questions to your partners.

1. Look at A.  Put in capitals and periods.

4. In D, circle the prepositions.

Worksheet

A. my grandfather made this table it is an antique now

B. Anna wanted to ski, she didn’t go because there was no snow.

C. He looked his watch to see the time.

D. We stayed at a resort in the mountains near a ranch with horses.

            Student B

These are sentence and questions about the worksheet.  Read your sentences and questions to your partners.

2. Look at B.  Is there a problem with this sentence?  Explain

5. In D, did you circle four prepositions?

      Worksheet

A. my grandfather made this table it is an antique now

B. Anna wanted to ski, she didn’t go because there was no snow.

C. He looked his watch to see the time.

D. We stayed at a resort in the mountains near a ranch with horses.

          Student C

These are sentence and questions about the worksheet.  Read your sentences and questions to your partners.

3. Look at C.  This sentence needs a preposition.  Add it.

6. …

      Worksheet

A. my grandfather made this table it is an antique now

B. Anna wanted to ski, she didn’t go because there was no snow.

C. He looked his watch to see the time.

D. We stayed at a resort in the mountains near a ranch with horses.

In the example above, Student A starts by reading Sentence/Question 1 about the worksheet item A.  All three of them look at the item on their worksheets and put in the capitals and periods.  They then confirm with each other that they did it correctly.

Next, Students B reads Question 2 etc.

Non-Threatening

As mentioned above, the activity is non-threatening.  If a group member makes a mistake, only two classmates notice it.  Also, they have a chance to “teach” each other, which is a valuable learning strategy.

Needless to say, the items using this format can be easily customized to focus on any grammatical structure and for any level of students.

This link,  grammar-groups-activity-1   ,is to a complete activity for high-beginners.  It comes from The Grammar Review Book, which is a book designed for “ear-learners” and “Generation 1.5” students. http://www.prolinguaassociates.com/Write_After_Input/index.html

This link, grammar-groups-activity-2  , is to a complete activity for advanced students.  It could be a review for students who studied the activity in my posting on October 18th, “Inductive Grammar: Why are there commas in these sentences? Here are some clues. What’s the rule?”   It comes from Writing Strategies Book 2 Advanced.  http://www.prolinguaassociates.com/Pages/wsbook.html

David Kehe

 

 

 

 

 

 

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