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Messages - rkyle

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Getting to Know You Activities / Pick 3
« on: March 13, 2020, 02:46:52 AM »
So this is based off of a card drafting system (e.g. Sushi Go).
First the teacher would compile a list of questions for students to answer about themselves. The way I imagine it, it's probably best to limit oneself to 3-4 questions per student, and for bigger classes instead of creating a list of 100 questions you would just break students into smaller groups and have the same base of questions. A list of some example questions:
1. Where were you born?
2. Where did you grow up?
3. What's your major?
4. What's your favorite game (board/video/etc)?
5. What's your favorite book?
6. What's your favorite TV show?
7. What's something you can do that you think nobody else in the room can do?
8. Favorite food?
9. Dream career?
etc. etc.
The idea here is basically make a list of questions that might generally come up in an ice breaker exercise, or a question that could have an interesting answer (while being appropriate both for the classroom, and the language level).
Next, the teacher writes the questions on index cards (such that each question has its own card).
Third, the teacher either breaks the class into groups or has them all gather around (based both on how many questions one intends to give each student, and how many students one has in their classroom).
Fourth, the teacher will deal out each student the number of questions they want them to answer (e.g. if students are to answer three of the above questions, then each student will be dealt 3 cards).
Fifth, students will look at their 3 (or however many) cards, and they'll select one. Once they've selected their question, they pass the other questions to the student to their left.
So if you only start with three cards students will pick one, pass, pick one, pass, and get a default card on the last. Then, obviously, they have to introduce themselves using these questions (e.g. if I had picked 1, 3, and 7, I would say 'My name is Kyle. I was born in California. I'm studying Japanese pedagogy. And I don't think anybody else in the room can solve a Rubik's cube.'). In my opinion there are two main benefits to an activity like this. First, for an introverted person like me, there's no forced interaction. When it comes to something like name bingo, where one has to seek out others, I basically don't participate (I know, I know). Second, the idea of having a choice entices me. Of course, it partially depends on how good(/varied) the questions are, but I think it might be interesting just to see what kind of questions people select for themselves. And, for myself, I think the idea of being (semi-) in control of my introduction is appealing. Also, a minor benefit (perhaps more specific to me than the general public), I took the mechanics from a board game, and I always enjoy more game-y things.

Vocabulary / Word association game (Codenames)
« on: March 11, 2020, 12:11:07 AM »
 As mentioned in the title, this is going to be about a board game called Codenames.
So, what is Codenames? For those that aren't interested in reading the rules, here's a three minute video that goes over them. For those who don't want to (or can't) watch the video, here goes:
1. Divide into two teams (1 person on each team will be the person giving clues, the others will be the guessers)
2. Lay out cards on a 5x5 grid, each card will have a single word printed on it
3. The captains will pull a single key card (between the two of them) that will tell them which cards are theirs, which cards are the opponent's, and which is a sudden death card
4. On their turn, a captain will give a single word, and a number indicating how many of the cards on the table relate to it
5. Guessers can guess up to that many cards plus one, but as soon as they're wrong their turn is automatically over (the danger here is that randomly guessing could lead to an auto-loss, or giving the opponent a free point)
6. Play continues like this until either team guesses all of their cards correctly (or one of them lands on the auto lose card)

I can never tell how well I actually explain game rules, but this one is actually straight forward once you start playing. Another benefit is that games typically are pretty short, lasting only 10-15 minutes. I haven't had a chance to play with too many non-native speakers, but generally the game has been well received (and obviously I'm a fan). To give you an example of how the game would play out, here's a picture of an example board/card that I've laid out. So if I were the blue team captain, and I were being nice, I might start out by saying cities, 2. Then (without looking at the card that tells you which cards are what color) you'd make your guesses. But I (personally) like to come out of the gates with something wild, so I would probably say drummer, 5. Spoiler for words I was aiming for: stick, cover, beat, New York, pupil (the last two I don't think people would actually get, but I like to give the opportunity). If I were the red team's captain I might say legendary, 5. Spoiler: dragon, undertaker, Loch Ness, Bermuda, and Egypt. And so on, and so on.

Now, this game would probably be best aimed at more advanced students, as it may be unrealistic to expect beginner/intermediate students to have a sufficiently deep word bank to pull from. That being said, the game is relatively simple to replicate. If a teacher were so inclined, they could make their own version of cards with index cards (i.e. they could attempt to make it words that students would have an easier time working with). One could also try shrinking the number of cards on the board/that have to be guessed, so that students have less to worry about connecting. In the end I think this game could be really fun for students, both for the challenge that it presents in terms of thinking, as well as the challenge of getting into fellow classmate's heads, and seeing the wacky connections that they pull out. Amazon link for anybody who wants to read the reviews. Also, for people that are worried about replayability, the game comes with 200 double sided cards (400 words total), and 40 keys (the cards that indicate which cards are yours) so probably that shouldn't be a problem.

The first post-reading activity could be, if not done in some way as a during reading activity, a comprehension check. This could be given in one of a number of different ways (e.g. in/formal quiz, kahoot, asked aloud). Potential questions could include things like 'How do scientists think the giant dwarf star came to be' (collision), 'How long ago do they estimate this to have occurred' (1.3 billion years), 'Scientists found a large amount of ___ in the atmosphere' (carbon), etc.
Another post-reading activity could be a free response journal entry type of activity. Give the students some general prompts (e.g. did this remind you of anything else you've read, what did you find interesting, did you find it interesting, etc). This would give the students a chance to write (a little bit) about what they just read, and the teacher (assuming you have them turn it in) can gauge the general reception of the piece.

The Hobbit stuff / Comprehension/vocabulary question for The Hobbit
« on: February 06, 2020, 04:08:40 AM »

This website has a PDF with comprehension questions and vocabulary for each of the chapters in the book, along with a table of the runes and a map to trace the route of the adventure. The site also has two quizlet sets, one for the vocabulary and one for the characters (e.g. Bilbo Baggins: unadventurous hobbit). Arguably the character one isn't as useful, but having a premade set for the vocabulary seems fairly convenient.

The Hobbit stuff / Hobbits and what may they be
« on: February 06, 2020, 03:51:25 AM »
Flowers, M. (2017). Hobbits? ... And what may they be? Journal of Tolkien Research, 4(1). Retrieved from

This paper is less a look at The Hobbit and more so a study of the etymology of the word 'hobbit'. It would seem that the usage of the word before Tolkien was quite different, and in interviews he had said that he didn't know why he used that word. The article advocates both that the inspiration behind the usage of 'hobbit' is probably a combination of many different sources, and that one of those sources may be the Welsh word 'hobbit' which is (was) an agricultural measurement term.

The Hobbit stuff / Bilbo Baggins and the Forty Thieves
« on: February 06, 2020, 03:43:52 AM »
Carmine, C.G. (2018). Bilbo Baggins and the Forty Thieves: The Reworking of Folktale Motifs in The Hobbit (and The Lord of the Rings) Mythlore, 36(2), 89-104.

While many articles talk about the influence of Beowulf, and this article does as well, the main point of this article is to compare The Hobbit with Ali Babi and the Forty Thieves, drawing parallels between characters and situations. It's interesting to read in its own right, but perhaps (after having read The Hobbit) it may be worth to have students reflect on the story as a whole, and see if they can draw any parallels between it and stories they've heard/read, as the author has done here.

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