Okay, this is the third post in a week to "spring forth" partly as a result of that R is for Repetition post on Scott Thornbury's blog... What's going on here? Is ST starting to influence me or something...?
In Scott's post (or at least in the comments thread), the well-known activity "Find someone who..." is mentioned several times. I've used it countless times in the classroom, but not recently, and thought next week could be a good time to return to it. Doing a quick check of various folders on the computer, I found a Wizard English Grid file already set up there for the "Find someone who..." activity -- dated to September, 2009. Whoops -- must have got it ready and then neglected to post it on the blog!
So, I've rigged up a couple of versions of the WEG for "Find someone who..." and I'll be using it across three general stages with a group of learners in the next week or so:
- "Find someone who..." grid, set up with prompts organised into rows according to basic information with the "be" verb, regular activities or facts about oneself, activities in the recent past, experiences, and (potential) future actions.
- Following completion of the grid, complete a simple written summary of one's findings, applying some of the basic skills we've already introduced regarding using paragraphs to sections off main ideas or categories from one another.
- Students do an oral report based on their findings, based on memory (while the teacher refers to their grid and makes some quick corrections to their written summary). They won't need to be able to remember absolutely everything, just as much as possible.
- "Find someone who..." grid, with new (but similar) prompts, with only the basic information with the "be" verb section presented in the first row, and the other functional categories jumbled around throughout the grid.
- Another written summary, this time requiring them to sort through the grid to find the right sorts of information to go into appropriate paragraph slots.
- Again, an oral summary of their findings from each student based on memory, while the teacher makes quick corrections to their written summaries.
- (Somewhat unplugged version): Learners write down 20 simple facts or interesting things about themselves, then apply it to a new blank WEG to create a learner-oriented "Find someone who..." chart.
- A written report/summary, this time compiled in whatever way the learner feels is appropriate or logical.
- Oral summaries based on memory, along the same lines already described in Stages 1 and 2.
So here's what my WEG looks like for Stage 1:
Basically, you can see I've organised the prompts somewhat functionally, in rows so that the learners are able to repeat the same sort of functional grammar in their questions:
To help them out a bit with this, and establish some early patterns for those who need some reminders, I'll be writing these "bubbles" up on the whiteboard:
For the written summary follow up in this stage, I will be giving them the following paragraph "starters":
First of all, I looked for people who match some basic information...
Second, I searched about for classmates who match certain facts or do some things regularly...
Next, I hunted about for people who did particular things recently...
Following that, I sought out classmates who have had different kinds of experiences...
Finally, I tracked down people who will possibly be doing a couple of different things in the near future...
Note the different ways to express the basic idea of "look for" -- for activities like this I love to be able to take a simple term and show a variety of other (more advanced, often more colloquial) ways it might be expressed!
However, essentially, the information to complete their paragraphs for this report will already be organised for them into clear rows in the WEG.
I will then take away their papers and make quick corrections to their writing, while helping them (if needed) to make oral summaries of their findings based on memory.
So moving on to Stage 2, things are going to get a little more challenging! Here's the new WEG for them to complete:
Similar basic functions and somewhat similar questions, but now only the first row has been neatly organised for them. The other broad functions have been entered in below that in diagonal lines (going down and across), which don't match the numbered progression from row to row, hence making them effectively jumbled in order:
I'm not sure if I'll write the different question prompt starters up on the whiteboard for them again -- we'll say how they manage on their own first!
For the follow up written report, I'll write the paragraph starters up on the board for them again, but with gaps to see if they can recall some key terms. Also, this time for the report, only the first paragraph will be neatly charted out for them. To complete the following four, they'll need to look around the entire bottom four rows of the grid and make some choices about which sorts of information fit into which paragraph.
(Depending on how we're going for time, and how accessible this all was for my learners, I may then ask them to re-write the report with the added challenge of asking for the reported information but also a compare/contrast follow-up clause, for example: David skipped breakfast today, and I did, too; Susan watches TV a lot, but I don't.)
Again, the learners will need to try and perform oral summaries based on memory. I find this is often hard for them, but in the end easier than they expect, and it is really great for triggering and stretching their brains in terms of both content and language (in addition to making the written summary purposeful and helpful). Also, in addition to getting some precious time to check each student's written work, I get some valuable insights as a teacher how their productive ability varies across both speaking and writing.
As for Stage 3, with the unplugged version, who knows what will happen?
On a final note, let me just say that I don't always apply "Find someone who..." in this (rather grammar/function-mediated) way. These learners just haven't had much focus on form recently, and I think it's a good time to be pulling some grammar forward for them (without it being about rules and analysis: as you can see from my application here, it's more about patterns).
Let's see how it all goes, then...