I played this game with Class 4 (10 – 11 year olds), in their second year of English. This group had done very few TA activities previously. (The previous year they had played the yes/no game with numbers and had made riddles of animals.) We had been dealing with a chapter in their textbook about pets and animals. This game took about 15 minutes and we played it at the end of several lessons, so they got used to how it worked.

SUBJECT AIMS: to practise the vocabulary necessary for describing animals, and to practise using the third person ‘s’ for verbs.
THINKING AIMS: to learn to notice the most important features of an animal for the purpose of recognising it (function), ie, to be able to find the distinguishing features of an animal. To use the pupils’ sentences about animals to help them find parameters, and from their parameters and sentences to build up an ENV as a tool to help eventually with the description of any animal.

See also Password Part 2 Finding parameters and Password Part 3 ENV

Below you can also see the video of that lesson that includes fragments described in all the three posts.



STEP 1: THE CHALLENGE was offered in the form of a game, Password (see also Password Game). One pupil came to the front and faced the class. The name of an animal was written on the board behind the pupil. The rest of the class had to offer sentences about the animal and the pupil had to guess on the basis of these what the animal it was. The idea ( I guess this is a limitation) was try to help the pupil to find out as quickly as possible.
STEP 2: A STRATEGY / TOOL. I’m not sure if this is really Step 2, as I gave them instructions to suggest sentences and they did so. There wasn’t really a strategy on the part of the pupils. During the game I wrote the sentences offered on the board, so that they could be reflected on afterwards, and the pupils could consider while playing what had been said already. This also helped when they had asked for new words – they could see and remember them better.
STEP 3: REFLECTION ON HOW THE TASK WAS DONE.  We used reflection on the sentences on the board as a means of helping the pupils to think about how they could play the game more effectively, ie how they could find the distinguishing features of an animal. The pupil at the front suggested which sentence had helped him most to guess and which were the least useful. We then considered which of the other sentences helped most and which least, or not at all, and why.
The reason for this discussion was to help them see why a particular sentence might be irrelevant. The whole idea of ENV and finding relevant parameters and features, is quite new to them, so they are pleased at the moment when they can produce any sentence in English about an animal. The challenge now is to think at the same time, does this sentence help in this situation?
TEACHER REFLECTIONS: The pupils did notice themselves that some sentences were more relevant than others, though they weren’t able always to say why without scaffolding from the teacher. There wasn’t time in the scope of this lesson to help them to improve how they play the game. We continued this in the next lesson, Password Part 2 Finding parameters.

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