Tag Archives: speaking

Activating Vocabulary in a Reading Comprehension Activity.

Now, this is my kind of activity. Fun, engaging, communicative and effective! And… almost no-prep!

If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you surely know about my obsession for “activating “ the vocabulary I teach in class. For this reason, you will always find me devising and designing strategies to bring to life the vocabulary taught during the lesson.

             

This activity I am going to share with you today turns a seemingly boring reading comprehension exercise into an engaging collaborative activity with lots of vocabulary learning involved.

It works really well when you have a text that can easily be divided into sections. Let’s take, for example, a text where 4 people give their opinion about Languages.

Procedure:

Before the class ( I said "almost" non-prep) 

Choose 5 words or expressions in each section you want your students to learn or reinforce. Write them down on a piece of paper (see picture below). You can obviously choose more or fewer words, but 5 works fine for me. Don’t show it to your students. Yet.

In class

Working with vocabulary

  • Form as many groups as different sections in the text you have and assign each group a section to read. For example, group 1 gets text 1, group 2 gets text 2… etc.

Note: In one class, I only had 8 students, so there were only two students in each group. Not a   problem. It worked just fine.

  • Once groups are formed, ask students to individually read their assigned text and underline any words or expressions they think might be worth using/ studying/using.
  • In the group, ask them to compare the words/expressions they have underlined and come up with only 5.
  • Ask them to write them on a piece of paper. Tell them you have also chosen 5 words from their texts. They will score 1 point for every coincidence.
  • Divide the board into four columns ( as many as sections/groups you have) and assign a column to each group.
  • Ask a representative from each group to write the 5 items they have chosen on their assigned column on the board, and explain meanings to the rest of the class.
  • Once this is done, read the words you have chosen and assign a point for every coincidence. On the board, add your chosen words to those written by the group. Clarify meanings and repeat procedure with the rest of the groups.

Retelling

Form new groups. Ask every student in Group 1 to form a different group with students from Group 2, 3 and 4. Allow them to reread their texts once or twice and ask them to retell their part making sure they use the vocabulary on the board.

Finally, do the reading comprehension questions as a whole class. Everybody should be able now to answer the questions for the whole text.

Lesson Plan: Crime and Punishment

Yay! It’s March! One of my fav seasons! I’m basically ticking off the days in my calendar until March 31 when we turn the clocks ahead and get more hours of daylight. In case you haven’t figured yet, I’m a sucker for bright sunny days.

This lesson plan about Crime and Punishment has been on my to-make list for a long time. And since I’m also ticking off the days before finals, I have decided to finally write it.  “Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today” or so they say.

This lesson plan is intended to fill a four-hour lesson or maybe a bit more. My classes are 110 minutes long so my intention is to dedicate two classes to talking about this topic. You can skip some of the tasks – don’t you dare!- if you don’t want to spend four hours talking about crime and punishment.

Day 1

Day One is a bit more boring than Day 2. Be warned!

Step 1: Lead-in.

1. Revising vocabulary. At this level, students know some common vocabulary related to crime and it’s always a good idea to tap into students’ prior knowledge. You want them to feel they are learning, but you probably don’t want them to feel overwhelmed by the amount of vocabulary they have to study.

Write Crime on the board and ask students in pairs to write down as many different crimes as they can think of.

Ask for feedback and write them on the board. It might be a good idea to introduce at this point the names for the criminals and the action verbs for each crime.

Example: they write kidnapping, and they also get kidnapper and to kidnap

2. Speaking: Point to some of the crimes on the board and ask simple questions such as

Do you know anyone who has been burgled/ mugged/kidnapped/ stopped by the police while drunk-driving? What happened?

Step 2: Introducing New Vocabulary.

1. A Game with FlipCards. As I wrote in another post, Quizlet and I have made up, it’s not that we had fallen out, it’s just that I found other flip card apps more visually appealing.  I still think they could update their app but the truth is that now I find myself using Quizlet more and more often. I am planning to use Quizlet in two ways. The one below- Flashcards mode-on Day 1 and Quizlet Live on Day 2 ( I warned you, Day 2 is more fun!)

Procedure: Divide the class into Team A and Team B.  They should name a spokesperson for each team. Flip a virtual coin to decide who starts the game. Let’s say Team A starts the game. Display the first definition and ask Team A to guess the crime. Allow a maximum of 10 seconds and ask the spokesperson to tell you the crime. They can continue playing until they make a mistake or cannot come up with the crime matching the definition. At this point,  the turn goes to Team B who can try to guess the crime.  If they can’t, they will still continue trying to guess crimes until again they make a mistake or cannot provide the crime for the definition on display. Every correct guess scores 1 point. It goes without saying the winner is the team who has scored the most points.

The idea is to facilitate learning, so after the game do the exercise again with the whole class, this time trying to focus only on the pictures and quickly saying the crime. A third time at the end of the class? Why not!

Introduce the term “white-collar crimes”  also called “corporate crime”. Explain that white-collar crimes are those financially motivated, nonviolent crimes committed by business and government professionals. Ask students to name some white-collar crimes and ask:

Do you think white-collar criminals should do time in jail?

Want to go the extra mile? For a more extensive list, click here

2. Vocabulary related to Crime and Punishment.

We have the crimes and the criminals. Now, what else? To talk about crimes and punishment we need vocabulary. Find the PDF here

3. Confusing words: steal, rob and burgle

This post about the difference between these three verbs published some time ago, comes in handy. Check it out

Step 3: Speaking. 

Time: 2 minutes per question

Ask students to work in groups of three.  Name them Student A, B and C. Give each of them a scrap of paper and ask them to write 4 words they remember related to crimes. Display the first question from the presentation below and ask student As in the group to answer the question trying to use the words in their scraps of paper.  Display the second question and ask student Bs to do the same. Repeat procedure for student Cs.

Ask students to swap scraps of paper within the members of their group and then ask all the student As in the groups to move to another group. Repeat the procedure above.

Note: Ask students to keep their scraps of paper as they will be used on Day 2.

Step 4: Listening and Speaking. Note-taking

Play the following videos. The task for each of them is the same.

  • Ask students to take notes and summarize the information
  • Ask: Does the punishment fit the crime?

Five teens charged for murder for throwing rocks

Animal abuse

Drunk driving

I know, I know... I said  two hours... maybe a bit more :)

Day 2

Day 2 is all about reinforcing vocabulary, playing and speaking. Check it out!

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