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CREATING INTERESTING EXERCISES, AND MAKING BORING EXERCISES INTERESTING

CREATING INTERESTING EXERCISES, AND MAKING BORING EXERCISES INTERESTING
What IS ‘interest’?
It’s very difficult to define. It’s easiest to do so so by results, or symptoms of interest in the classroom: attention is voluntary + the learner is involved in doing the task + there is enjoyment
In this workshop I’ll be looking at activities that provide practice in spelling, vocabulary and grammar, and exploring ways of increasing interest without an inordinate amount of preparation: ‘tweaking’ rather than creating.
Spelling
We can take the words we want to practise the spelling of, ask students to learn them and then do a dictation

1. bicycle
2. because
3. people
4. independent
5. embarrassed
6. friend
7. encourage
8. privilege
9. building
10. enough

Or we can do a ‘recall and share’ activity:
[Ask students to study the words for a minute and ‘photograph’ them in their minds; then delete or hide the words and invite them to write down as many as they remember on their own; then let them share with neighbours and help each other to recall more and check spelling; finally show them the original list again for self-checking.]
Why the rise in interest?
• Task involving clear, achievable goal with tangible result
• Game-like challenge (task + ‘constraints’ or ‘rules’)
• Collaboration
• Full participation
• Success-orientation



Vocabulary (1)
afraid of
touch
competition
muscles
dolphin
wind
snow
international
disabled
twice
swim
freezing
therapy
connection
lie down



We can ask learners to make up a sentence contextualizing each word
Or we can ask them to do any of the following:
• Make a sentence contextualizing two words
• Make a true sentence from a word
• Make an obviously false sentence
• Make a negative sentence
• Make up a story including them all
Why the rise in interest?
• Challenge through using higher-order thinking skills:
• convergent (logical, critical)
• divergent (creative, ‘lateral’)
Some examples of convergent (critical) thinking

connecting
prioritizing
classifying
identifying causality / lack of causality
evaluating truth/falsehood
identifying inclusion / exclusion
detecting contradictions or tautologies
identifying logical necessity


Some examples of divergent thinking

Creative thinking:
associations
solutions to a problem
answers to a question
questions to an answer
Lateral thinking:
thinking of unusual or original solutions to problems
looking at things from an unconventional angle
‘breaking rules’


Vocabulary (2)
jealous
disappointed
happy
amused
apathetic
hurt
angry
relaxed
excited
sad
doubtful
confident
afraid
tense

We can do a matching exercise
1. angry a. unhappy and angry because someone has something you want
2. sad b. feeling pleasure or satisfaction
3. jealous c. lacking interest or energy
4. confident d. having a strong feeling against someone or something that makes you want to shout or hurt them
5. tense e. unhappy or sorry
6. doubtful f. nervous, anxious, unable to relax
7. apathetic g. uncertain about something
8. happy h. sure or trusting
Or a sentence completion exercise:
1. I felt angry because…_____________________________________________
2. I felt sad although…_____________________________________________
3. I felt jealous when …_____________________________________________
4. I felt confident so …_____________________________________________
5. I felt tense although …_____________________________________________
6. I felt doubtful because …_____________________________________________
7. I felt apathetic so …_____________________________________________
8. I felt happy when …_____________________________________________

Why the rise in interest?
• Logical relations (cause/result/opposition)
• Personalization
• Specific and concrete rather than general and abstract
• Open-ended
• (Deeper thinking about the target items, and more ‘quantity’ of engagement with them)

Grammar (1): Present perfect
We can do a closed-ended sentence completion exercise:
Write sentences using the present perfect
Lina can’t find her key; (lose).
Peter weighed 80 kilos before, now he weighs 60; (be on a diet).
Mark and Dana are delighted; (pass the test).
Becky won’t be playing today; (break her leg).
Sam will be late; (have an accident).
We aren’t going on holiday after all;(change plans).

Or we can ‘mutilate the textbook’: delete the cue verb phrase, and allow students to invent their own endings.
What has happened?
Peter can’t find his key.
Lina weighed 80 kilos before, now she weighs 60.
Mark and Dan are delighted.
Becky won’t be playing today.
Sam will be late.
We aren’t going on holiday after all.

Why the rise in interest?
• Open-ended:
o creativity
o originality
o humour
• More participation
• More focus on real situations
• Critical thinking: causality, justification
• (More ‘quantity’ of engagement with the target feature)

Grammar (2): There is/are + prepositions
Make sentences with there is / there are about the picture
Ideas
• Say sentences about the picture using the target feature
• Achieve a set number of sentences (20? 30?)
• Say as many sentences as you can in limited time (one minute/ two minutes)
Why the rise in interest?
• Open-ended
• Full participation
• Task (clearly defined,achievable goal - outcome)
• Game-like challenge
• task + constraints (rules)
To summarize
Interest in doing a classroom activity can be identified in terms of its outcomes:
• voluntary attention
• enjoyment
• active involvement in doing the activity
Some key features that are likely to produce boredom
• Form-focused exercises
• Closed-ended exercises
• Low participation (‘IRF’: activating one member of the class at a time)
Features that are not necessarily conducive to interest
• interesting topic
• (information-gap-based) communication
• real-world relevance or ‘authenticity’


Features that are conducive to interest
1: Activation
• Activate students in some kind of (even minimal) production rather than just reception
• Activate most class members simultaneously
2. Open-endedness
• Invite a large number of ‘right’ responses
• Encourage original, unusual responses
• Be willing to mutilate the textbook
3. Tasks
• Provide for a clear outcome as the task goal
• Make sure this goal is obviously easily achievable
• Have a feedback stage at the end
4. HOTS
• Minimalize the use of LOTS (simple ‘recall-based’) exercises: closed-ended matching, gapfills, m/c
• Use tasks that get learners to use HOTS: think critically or creatively
o Ask them to connect, contrast, classify, criticize, prioritize, identify causes / results, invent, problem-solve, innovate…
5. Personal relevance
• Get students to apply the target items to themselves …
• …or to the real world as they know it (experiences, true / false statements, cultural differences…)
6. Game-like features
Transform into a game by adding an artificial constraint to a task (time limit, not allowed to look, competition, guessing)

Try it out!
What might you do with this exercise to make it more interesting?
Practise questions: match questions to answers.

Are you a nurse? How are you? What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Is today Thursday?

1. ________________________? Fine!
2. ____________________? No, it isn’t.
3. ____________________________? Mexico.
4. ____________________________? Rita.
5. _____________________? Yes, I am.
6. ____________________________? Sixteen.


Further reading
Ur, P., & Wright, A. (1992). Five minute activities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ur, P. (1996). A course in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ur, P. (2009). Grammar practice activities (2nd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Create Date : 06 กุมภาพันธ์ 2554
Last Update : 6 กุมภาพันธ์ 2554 9:10:14 น. 1 comments
Counter : 315 Pageviews.

 
very nice details about present perfect tense Thanks นะครับ


โดย: คุณ โตน วันที่: 19 กันยายน 2554 เวลา:14:24:33 น.  

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