I have previously written an article in Edutopia (along with my colleague, Katie Hull) about English-Language Learners and Academic Language.
One of the strategies included in the article was a short regular activity I do using words from an Academic Word List (there are various versions freely available online). Simply put, I explicitly teach three words a day in a very fun and engaging way, and then students divide into groups to practice using them.
Last week I tried a fun game as a review that worked very well. I’m sure other teachers have used something similar, but — for me — it was an original idea 🙂 .
Students divided into small groups of two-to-four each and their groups were composed of students from the same “level” (I have a combination Beginner and Intermediate class, and each of those two levels learn different academic words. Each group was given a small whiteboard, marker and eraser, along with their Academic Language Notebooks (where they kept track of the words they were learning).
I explained the rules. Students would be given two minutes to write a sentence correctly using academic words they had learned. For every word they used correctly, they would receive one point. So, if they used three in one sentence, their team would receive three points. They would need to underline the academic words in their sentence, and assign a person to stand and read it. Once they read it, I would determine which words were used correctly and award the appropriate number of points. Afterwards, they would be given another two minutes to develop a sentence using new academic words and assigning a new person to read them to the class.
It was a lot of fun and engagement was at a very high (at times, too high) of a level — sometimes it was difficult to get everyone to listen to the group spokespeople. Not only was it an effective reinforcement activity, and was great for formative assessment, too. We did four rounds, and then they were given an opportunity to “bet” the points they had already won and could write two sentences using new words.
Let me know if you have suggestions of other useful games to use with academic language, or ideas on how to make this one even better!
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