Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

JuMpInG into JeNgA..!

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We know that the teachers of #langchat always provide new ideas to try in the classroom. So when Jenga started popping up – okay Meredith White was tweeting all about it – I thought ‘hmmm’. Then more tweets followed and I thought..”I’m in”. More required Twitter reading and I had my plan…today was my first day using it in class and here’s what I learned.

Getting ready..

  • Order a coloured blocks version – you’re going to want to use this several ways and colours allows you to assign tasks by group. I ordered a 48 piece ‘knock off’ of the classic game and 7 sets (enough for teams of 4 or 5 – my max. class size is 30)
  • Take them out of the boxes and put them in labelled ziplocks – they are easier to hand out and collect that way.
  • Label the blocks in the middle of the block with a handy sharpie (“A1”, “A2″…) – this serves two purposes. One is to keep the set together. When you find a block under a chair after a session and it’s labelled “A24” you know it belongs in bag “A”. Also if you label it in the middle kids can’t ‘see’ the number until they remove the block…
  • Prepare some general instructions – believe it or not some kids have never played this – so I found a simple explanation online at ‘wikihow’ and prepped a one-page sheet (here’s mine: jenga rules student)

Decide ‘how’ you want to play – there’s a couple of options.

  • If you are using colours you can have students respond to a prompt based on colour. Over time I plan to also develop games with a ‘question’ per block – okay that’s 48 but if you teach a language that ‘conjugates’ imagine how easy that would be. Here are today’s prompts:

Prepare The Instructions:

  • Put the instructions for the activity and the game in a plastic report cover sheet to hand out – on one side the basic ‘how to play’ and on the other the instructions for the game that day. And I never have to make up that instruction package again!
  • Consider if you want them to ‘record’ their answers. I decided that kids should write down the ‘structure’ part of each answer they gave today (you can use it also for more feedback). Their sheet recorded their name and then the key part of the response…

Hand out the games/instructions to the teams (my kids played in 4’s)

  • Go over the basic way to play the game and how they will be playing this time (their task as it were)
  • And then tell them the “what to do on your turn rules”  – which for my class today were:
    • take out a block
    • say the answer to the question prompt (based on colour) and no repeats!!
    • put the block on top
    • write out the required part of what you said as another group member takes their turn
    • If your groups’ Jenga falls…start again!!!

Stand back and let them at it! Some kids asked if they could pull 2 blocks at a time and give 2 answers and I left the ‘yes or no’ up to the group. They played for about 40 minutes and had a ball. I plan to use it once a unit (at least!). If you are looking for information try searching “jenga #langchat” on Twitter and you’ll get lots of ideas. Oh I will use this again!

Colleen

PS : I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year on improving my practice – amazing professional development but not conducive to blogging. This year I’ve vowed to return to the blog and hope that sharing what I am doing perhaps resonates with others…

 

 

2 Comments

  1. LOVE this idea. Thanks for sharing

  2. Thanks Saundra – I thought perhaps my experience using it for the first time may help someone else…

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