A while ago I read a cracking blog post by the fantastic @dominic_mcg, who was describing an idea that he had learned from the wonderful @bellaale in this post. Duplo. Something that I spend a massive amount of my time playing with at home with my kids. And sentence building. Something that I spend a massive amount of time working on with my students at work. At the time I read it I put it to the back of my head. In most classroom settings that I've been in the idea would've been nigh on impossible.
Thank you, gents.
At school we are encouraged to really push our practice, to get students exploring rather than us explaining. So when I was stuck for how to get new students building their Target Language usage in the classroom, and as such building short sentences, Duplo popped up. And I love it. Please, please go buy some Duplo blocks.
OK, the way it works...
1) Colour code the language you want students to use (our first week was spent working on key verbs in order to start sentence building from the outset).
2) Print it (in colour) for each table / group.
3) Each table needs the word sheets, some whiteboard pens and some baby wipes.
4) Get building!
Initially I challenged the students to build as many 4 word towers as they could- basic requests. I then gave them 10 minutes to build as tall a tower as possible (1st word at the top then build down). You write the Spanish on one side and the English on the other (which also then helps when we look at word order).
Next stage: peer feedback on how to improve- write "La frase fue"+ an opinion and then tell the other team how to improve it on a post-it for them to respond to, using the spontaneous language mats in each table box (see a screenshot below)
And then get building again. The biggest tower? 54 blocks- almost as tall as one of its makers! Way to go for week 2 of Spanish learning!
I love it, I love it, I love it- and so did the students, who all felt that they were now able to create and develop short sentences. In fact, the only colour of block that we ran out of was orange- connectives!