(I thought it might be helpful to readers and myself if I described some of my favorite activities from time to time. See all my ESL Activity Corner posts here.)
This is a great one for making the textbook fun and getting students out of their seats. It’s also a great way to have students tackle particularly difficult questions because there is a lot of thinking out loud, explaining to each other, etc.
- Copy five or so relevant questions from the textbook so that you can print them out and tape them individually to the board. (Maximum is number of students divided by 2) Tape them horizontally with as much room between as you can.
- Students work in groups of 2 or 3. Give each group a stack of sticky notes.
- Each group begins at a different example. They should read it and write down their answer(s) on sticky notes, one per group. They should stick their notes under the question.
- The groups rotate to the next question. They should consider the question and the previous group’s answer, then stick their own answers on the bottom.
- Repeat until time is up or until all students have answered all questions.
- When going over answers, ask students to justify their answers, look up answers, etc. A lot of critical thinking happens here!
- Take note of the ones that many groups were confused about!
- Point out what page in the textbook the activity was taken from so they can refer back to it.
In our academic writing class, my lead teacher noticed the class seemed confused about restrictive vs. non-restrictive commas, so she did this activity with several textbook examples.
She posted the examples, and then each group had to use two notes: one to indicate whether the example had restrictive or non-restrictive commas, and the other to indicate if the information was necessary or extra.
The students and she had a great group discussion while going over the answers, and she used their answers to inform the homework and the next quiz.
- the sticky notes can either be one color per group, or all the same color so their answers are anonymous.
- if students disagree with the answer immediately before theirs, you can require them to post an additional sticky note explaining why they disagree.
- you could have students hide their posted answers, either posting them backwards or placing them under the question paper. This way each group would see each question afresh.
- this could be modified for low-literacy classes to use pictures as questions and one-word answers on post-its
- in case of low mobility and/or longer answers, the different questions could be placed in numbered folders and passed from seated group to seated group.
- this activity could be used for grammar, content classes, and all levels of ESL.