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Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Q-Running Around = Grammar Engagement

Imagine this scenario... It's Monday morning of a brand new week of English lessons.  You walk in the classroom shortly before the beginning of class.  As you are getting your things prepared for the lesson, you look around the room.  Some of the students have their heads on their desks trying to count just a few more sheep before the bell rings, while other students are still finding their way sleepily to the room.  You then begin the class by telling them that the day's topic is a new grammar point.  Without fail, some, if not all of the students, will begin to moan and sigh, immediately switch their brains off, and go back to sleep.

Unfortunately, this is an all too common reaction towards grammar in the ESL classroom.  There is a false perception by many students that grammar teaching is always going to be boring.  Yet, when you stop to think about their reasons for thinking this way, it is completely understandable.  For most students, grammar lessons are usually spent copying down the teacher's notes from the blackboard, and then going through some fill-in-the-gap drilling in a course book.  While these two activities are indeed beneficial to a point, they are all that far too many students do with grammar.  They are rarely given a chance to do something creative or productive in a real world sense.  That is when grammar truly can be fun and engaging.  Yes, it is possible, and I will show you an activity that my colleague and I have used for the past two years that consistently gets our students asking for more.  We call it a Grammar Run.

The basic premise behind our Grammar Run activity is to get the students into small groups, and together they go to five different areas of the school, led by QR codes, as seen just above.  Once they scan the code, it directs them to one of the five places, and once there, there is an A3-sized paper with a question at the top, and their names below.  They must then answer the question in a grammatically-correct sentence about that particular place. 

For example, let's say group 1 is directed towards the library.  On the paper, seen just below, the students must write a sentence about what they did (focusing on the simple past tense) in the library last week.  It could be from something as simple as, 'I read a book in the library last week', to something a bit more challenging like, 'I came to the library last week to research my topic for an academic essay'.

Thereafter, the students scan the QR code at the bottom of the page, which then directs them to the next place in the school, and the procedure is repeated.  When all groups have finished, we collect the papers, check them for any grammar or logic issues, and then give the students feedback on their performance.

The brilliant part about this activity is that it is so easily adaptable to any grammar tense.  Instead of practicing the past simple tense, you could simply change the question on the paper from, 'What did you do here?', to, 'What do you do here everyday?', to help students practice the simple present tense.  It can be used for conditionals as well. For instance, 'If you could eat anything in the lunchroom today, what would it be?' That way, you don't have to put in all the effort of organizing this activity to just do it one time.  

Yes, it maybe be hard to believe, but your students will want to do this activity again and again.  They love having the opportunity to get out of the classroom and walk around the school, but with an academic purpose.  In addition, they get to use their smartphones to scan the QR code, which is always a plus for teenagers.  Then, there is the engagement of it being like a scavenger hunt, as they are not quite sure of the five places around the school that we have chosen.  That, of course, is adaptable as well.  Each time could be five different places.  If you were to choose the library and lunchroom the first time, then you could change it to the gym and theater the next.

Our students recently had a chance to have their say on a class survey about the activity, and here are the results...

Give it a try!  I am sure that you won't be disappointed.  Furthermore, stay tuned to the blog, as there will be another post on a different variation of this activity... paperless!

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