Monday, November 21, 2016

Activity: Using stuffed penguins to motivate students to write

        This is a low-tech activity which I have implemented lately, with my 9th grade students (aged 14-16) and it was quite successful. That's why I think it is worth-sharing. I hope you like the activity, adopt it and adapt it to your own classes. I know this might not be new to some of you, but it could be inspiring to some of those who are looking for something out of the ordinary routines to try in class, during third hour classes, which is meant in our Tunisian syllabus to make fun and enjoy learning English. I do not think this could be implemented with adults, though I think this is tempting to try and see! 
   Materials: Stuffed animals 
   Organisation: Group work
   Time: 15 mn
   Aims: To write a first person paragraph
            To narrate a story based on the stuffed animal 
            Recycle and consolidate basic structures to write correct/ meaningful sentences
            Collaborate in groups to share ideas and use imagination creatively
   Description: In this activity, the students (assembled in groups of 4)get a stuffed animal,( this time, a penguin). They decide whether to write a first-person paragraph, or third-person paragraph about the penguin. What is crucial is that they decide to write a short story revolving around the penguin. 
   Preparation: You will need to bring stuffed animals to the class depending on the number of groups. Papers and markers are optional. 
1-At the beginning of the activity, the teacher writes a set of questions, which could give the students clues about the flow and the sequence of the paragraph. The questions revolve around the name, age, hobbies, feelings of the penguin, why and where is he/she! The story is not long, but every student can make it longer, when interested, to resume writing , but this time a longer version of the story. 
2-When the students agree on all the necessary details to include in their writings, they write the story and then share them with their peers. 
       The students have been so excited to see, use stuffed animals and share ideas in a very collaborative spirit. They have been engaged during the whole process of writing. The newness of the activity have boosted their motivation to write. Some other pupils volunteered to take pictures of the activity, while working. Some of the pictures are posted below. 
The paragraphs, or the stories are far from being perfect or void of language mistakes, but they become aware of their mistakes, due to the conversations going on while writing. This is a demanding activity for the teacher, because he has to ensure that every pupil is taking part in the activity. Some funny names the students have used are: Penguy, Pengushi, Penguat, Pengury. Some funny lines are: Today, we'd like to present Penguat is fat. The rhyme of the names have helped the learners to think of corresponding adjectives. Some other examples state: Pengury is angry. 
What is interesting is that learners have used their imagination and put heads together to take appropriate decisions concerning many parts of their writings.


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