Lesson Plan – Drama Games on TV

Whose line

 

Television: this magical light box that has so many times kept me company during those lonely only-child afternoons. We have been buddies for a long time now.

Numerous hours have I spent zapping channels in search of something fun and entertaining to watch.

And it was during those adolescent times that I discovered that those games I used to play at theatre class also existed in the magic box!

Shows like ‘Whose line is it anyway’ were part of my weekly schedule, never ever missing an episode.

Little did I know that not long after, all those goofy games would become part of my very own weaponry in the classroom.

Nowadays drama games are largely used on TV shows for pure entertainment. However, they come directly from very serious theatrical techniques and can surely be applied for educational purposes as well.

Below are some examples of classic and more recent shows displaying very famous drama games. I tried to adapt them into content-oriented lesson plans that can be applied in language learning.

I hope you can be inspired to adapt more games you see on your day-to-day lives for ELT.

As usual, enjoy it and have fun with the games!

 


 

Drama Game: Word Sneak – Vocabulary practice

 

 

Type:  Vocabulary Practice

Age: from teens up

Language level: all

Aim: Controlled practice of specific vocabulary

Interaction Pattern: pair work

Material: Sentences / words written on paper slips

Timing: 5-7 min


Procedure:

Tell your students that they will play a game to practice what they have just learned.

 

Tip:

Since the main goal here is for this game to be played as controlled practice, it would be a good idea to propose it right after vocabulary analysis.

 

Rearrange students in pairs and give each pair a stack of slips of paper with the language you want them to practice.

 

Tip:

Some ideas are:

Linkers (First, Then, Consequently, As a result, Nevertheless, ect…)

Expressions for agreeing and disagreeing (I see eye to eye with you, I see it differently, etc…)

Expressions for giving opinion (I think, I believe, I suppose, To my mind, etc…)

Vocabulary elevation (wealthy instead of rich, etc…) Words taken from a specifically difficult text students have just read

 

Tell students these words/sentences have to be used secretly in the middle of the conversation they will have with their partner.

As soon as they use one word/sentence, they have to discard the paper and get another one from the stack. The student that uses the last paper ‘wins’.

Write on the board a topic for the whole class to start their conversation.

 

lousa10

 

Don’t forget to link this topic to the activities done before in class and also to the language you want them to practice.

 

Tip:

Remember that on the show, Jimmy Fallon is a comedian and his objective is to be as absurd as possible.

Your objective is different: it’s to get students using those words in semi-spontaneous spoken discourse. The game may result in laughs in the classroom, but that’s not the goal. Depending on the topic and the language you provide your students, the outcome can be very serious meaningful exchange of ideas.

 

Walk around the class as take notes as students perform the activity. Provide help if necessary, but in general let them do most of the talking.

Since this is controlled practice, take a few minutes in the end to promote correction with the whole class based on your notes in order to move on to your next activity more smoothly.


 

Drama Game: Heads up – Relative Clauses

 

 

Type:  Grammar Practice

Age: all

Language level: all

Aim: Controlled practice of relative clauses

Interaction Pattern: pair work or group work

Material: Flashcards with faces and names of famous people

Timing: 5-7 min


Procedure:

Tell your students that they will play a game to practice what they have just learned.

 

Tip:

Since the main goal here is for this game to be played as controlled practice, it would be a good idea to propose it right after grammar analysis.

 

Rearrange students in pairs or in 2 large groups and hand them over some flashcards with names and faces of famous people.

Place all flashcards face down so no one sees who are on them.

 

Tip:

If you choose pairwork, students will have more chance to practice individually, but it’s harder for you to monitor their production.If you choose 2 large groups against each other, students will have less individual talking time, however you can supervise more thoroughly.

Choose either one or the other depending on what is better for them at that moment: a bit freer practice (if they have already gotten the hang of relative clauses) or more controlled practice (if they are still struggling with using the structure properly).

 

Tell students one member of each group will have to get a flashcard without looking and placing it over their head.

Heads Up

 

Then, their partner/people from the other group should describe who that person is using relative clauses. (e.g. This is someone who….. He was in a movie which…. He came from a place where…. etc.)

 

 

Tip:

If you feel your students are not yet ready to produce such complex sentences by themselves, you can provide them with some models on the board.

lousa11

 

 

Walk around the class as take notes as students perform the activity. Provide help if necessary, but in general let them do most of the talking.

 

Since this is controlled practice, take a few minutes in the end to promote correction with the whole class based on your notes in order to move on to your next activity more smoothly.


Drama Game: Scenes from a hat – Functions practice

 

 

Type:  Functions Practice

Age: all

Language level: all

Aim: Freer practice of specific functions

Interaction Pattern: group work

Material: Slips of paper with situations

Timing: 5-7 min


Procedure:

Tell your students that they will play a game to practice the topic they have just learned.

 

Tip:

Since the main goal here is for this game to be played as freer practice, it would be a good idea to propose it at the very end of the class. This is a good way to wrap up all the content of the class in one single activity.

 

Rearrange students in 2 large groups to compete against each other and have them stand up.

Tell them you have a few cards with situations on them. All the situations have to do with what they learned and they are expected to use the language seen this class.

Groups take turns acting out the situations given. Students can decide spontaneously if they will act that situation by themselves or with in unison.

Present a situation in which the function you want them to practice is needed and ask students to respond to it.

Each group has the chance to act the situation once.

After each group has presented their scene using the functions, you ask collectively which scene they think used better language.

Repeat the procedure as many times as you have cards and time to do so.

Help students notice that they were able to use the language learned in a ‘more real’ way.

Lesson Plan – Wordganize – Grammar analysis

wordganize

How can we get students to notice and analyze new grammar structures?

Writing model sentences on the board, using colour coding, asking them to read an example from the textbook… We’ve all done that.

 

How about asking students to BE the words and try to organize themselves into a sentence?

That’s Wordganize, a fun and effective way to promote active analysis of a grammar structure while fostering group integration, the development of managing skills, real life argumentation and the increase of STT (student talking time) during new language exposition.

It can be used to analyze all sorts of grammar points, from A1 to C2. It is very versatile and gets students moving a little, which is a plus for days in which we have to provide too much input.

As usual, I hope you and your students can benefit from this different way to discover new structures.

Enjoy it and have fun with the games!


Drama Game: Wordganize – Grammar analysis

 

Type: Grammar analysis

Age: all

Language level: all

Aim: Notice and analyze new structures

Interaction Pattern: group work

Material: Words written on paper slips

Timing: 5-7 min


Procedure:

Since I am not familiar with the kind of method every reader of this post follows in class, this post was designed to follow the most common formats of language input that can be found in world renowned textbooks, in which language analysis comes after a brief discussion on the topic and sometimes a passive input of the language to be analyzed in the form of a written or spoken text.

After providing students with some passive input of the topic in the form of a reading or listening activity, tell students they will try to remember a few sentences from the text.

The idea here is to prepare in advance sentences students have just been exposed to during the reading/listening activity, cut the sentence into words or chunks and give each student a piece.

Ask them to close their books and stand up in a line.

Hand out words to each student.  They have to either hold the word, clip it to their clothes or stick it to their foreheads – depends on how outgoing your students are.

While they get their words, write on the board some model sentences to help them get through the next phase of the game – since this is not the aim of the activity and they shouldn’t focus on THIS language, but the one on the sentence they have to build.

lousa9

Tell students they ARE these words now.

They have to organize themselves into a sentence and you CANNOT help.

They can use the language on the board to help organize themselves.

When they think the sentence is correct, they can call you to check it.

Tip:

If you teach in a small classroom or you have a group that is not really into getting up and moving around, you can ask them to switch places, sitting in the ‘right order’. Another variation is for them to move the pieces of paper around, and hold them up for everyone to see.

Also, if you have few students in class, you can give them either two words per student, or cut the sentence in chucks rather than individual words.

Students start organizing themselves as a group.

At this point, usually students with leadership-inclined personalities will probably take the role of managers.

Observe and interfere as little as possible.

At the end, ask CCQs (Concept Check Questions) to the whole group to raise awareness of the structure you want them to focus on.

(If you are not familiar with CCQs, click here for more information)

Tip:

Make sure you prepare your CCQs in advance. It is quite challenging to attempt to formulate effective ones on the spot, at least I think so.

You can repeat this game two or three times, asking students to Wordganize themselves into different sentences demonstrating the same grammar topic to provide more practice and cater for students that might not get the idea the first time around.

At the end of this game followed by well-designed CCQs, students should be prepared for controlled and freer practice.


Wordganize is a way to learn a structure through concrete and active means and enables students to get a hold of their own acquisition. All followed by the guidance of the teacher in the form of pre-designed CCQs.

It’s quite effective and fun.

Lesson Plan – Paper Balls – 4 variations

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

This is the full lesson plan of the game Paper Balls which was part of the great content exposed by Mary Patricia Schnueriger during the workshop Learner-tainment in Geneva. If you want more information about the workshop, click here.

Paper balls is a very lively game that can be used and adapted to cater to a plethora of teaching goals. On this post I will depict some of the uses I came up with after analyzing the original idea from the workshop.

I developed lesson plans with 4 different goals in mind: ice breaker, vocabulary review, grammar practice and fluency practice.

However, if you have found other interesting uses for this game feel free to comment below!


Drama Game: Paper Balls – Vocabulary Review/Practice

 

Type: Vocabulary Review/Practice

Age: all

Language level: all

Aim: Revisit and personalize previously taught vocabulary to facilitate retention

Interaction Pattern: individual + whole group

Material: Paper to make notes

Timing: 7-10 min


Procedure:

Each student gets a piece of paper large enough to be molded into a ball (1/5 of an A4 should suffice)

Students write words or expressions they learned the previous class or previously during that very class on a piece of paper

Tip

You can direct students here to write what you want them to practice. Let’s say you have an A1 class and you’d like them to practice vocabulary regarding worklife, you can write on the board

lousa1

On the other hand, if you have a B2 group, you could write on the board ‘verbs followed by infinitive, gerund or both.

lousa2

After writing their chosen piece of vocabulary, students make a paper ball with it.

Tell students they are to throw the balls around, so it’s gonna get kinda messy.

Tip

Depending on your group profile, you can either ask your students to stand up in a circle and throw the balls at someone across from them (more proactive, outgoing group profiles), or remain seated and throw the balls at anyone they’d like (more introverted, self-conscious group profiles), or even have a ball fight for 10 seconds and when time is over, students read the paper they ended up with (kids, teenagers and very open-minded adults).

Whoever has the paper ball reads it and executes a task. This task can be previously designed by the teacher to enhance language production of the topic to be reviewed/practiced.

For example, the A1 group practicing work-related words can be asked to come up with a TRUE sentence using the word they have (the truth in the sentence enables students to make the idea more memorable). As for the B2 group, they could perhaps come up with a question on the spot using the verb they have as a way to generate discussion and provide students with fast response practice (an ability B level students sometimes lack).

When the teacher sets previous specific goals for this game, it is a great tool to revise and practice vocabulary. However, if the students have no guidelines when they are either writing the words and phrases or elaborating sentences for them later, the chance you get words that are totally unrelated to your teaching point or useless sentences spoken just for the sake of completing the asked task is pretty big. So use it cautiously and runthrough your instructions carefully before applying the game.

 


Drama Game: Paper Balls – Ice breaker

 

Type: Ice Breaker

Age: all

Language level: all

Aim: Promote group integration and notice students’ previous knowledge

Interaction Pattern: whole group

Material: Paper to make notes

Timing: 5-7 min


Procedure:

This is a good alternative for an activity on the very first day of class, so that the group can get to know each other in a lively way and you can also observe their production while the game is going on so that you can figure out what you will be dealing with during the course.

Tip

In order for both of these goals to be achieved, this is a no-correction version of the game. I wouldn’t correct a student on the very first moment of the very first class. It could feel rather intimidating, to my mind, and the idea here is to lower everyone’s anxiety and promote bonding amongst everyone in class.

Tell students you will play a game to get to know each other. In this game, everyone will receive a paper ball that they CANNOT open.

Hand out one paper ball with previously written questions to each student.

Tip

Write the questions beforehand to save time, incite curiosity and promote a more realistic response from students since they don’t know what the questions will be about.

Also, grade the questions in relation to what you want to observe in terms of production from your students. It could be just personal questions, but it could also be discussion starters to higher levels.

Ask students to stand in a circle and make sure everyone can see each other.

Tell students they will throw the balls at each other once. They can throw at whomever they want (usually they throw to someone directly opposite to them, but if anyone ends up now being thrown at, there’s always going to be a ball left from them. Ask them to go and get it.)

They will then have 30 seconds to talk to someone about the question they got.

After the 30 seconds are over, they throw the balls again and choose a different person to discuss the new question with.

Even is they get a question two or three times, the person they are talking to is never the same, so there is always room for authentic discussion.

Walk around and listen to what they are saying. This is the moment you assess their previous knowledge privately.

Repeat 3 or 4 times and then bring the group back to their original places.

Tip

It could be nice to have e brief feedback moment after the game, asking how the students felt, what is hard or easy during this kind of exercise. For higher levels, elicit from stidents the connection between this game and real life. Ask them situations in which they are ‘bombarded’ with questions and have to answer quickly and elicit strategies to perform better under pressure.

By the end of this activity the group should be a lot more integrated and aware of the importance of not only studying the book , but also drawing parallels to real life use of the language they are learning.

 


Drama Game: Paper Balls – Fluency practice

 

Type: Fluency practice

Age: all

Language level: from A2 on

Aim: Promote freer practice

Interaction Pattern: individual + whole group (small groups) / group work (large groups)

Material: Paper to make notes

Timing: 7-10 min


Procedure:

This is a variation of the Ice breaker in order to be used at the end of classes to promote freer practice of the language learned that day.

Tip

Since this the goal here is practicing, make sure you allocate some time after the game to promote public correction on things you heard during the game. Don’t forget to make notes as the students play the game.

Tell students you will play a game to practice what you have learned today. In this game, one by one, students will stand up and all the other students will throw them paper balls – either one by one or all at once, depending on your group profile.

Each student gets a piece of paper large enough to be molded into a ball (1/5 of an A4 should suffice)

Students write questions about what they learned previously during that very class on it

Tip: Walk around and try to correct the questions before students throw the balls.

Ask students to throw the questions at the student who is stading.

This targeted student has 1 minute to answer as many questions as possible. Then he/she sits down and it’s someone else’s turn.

Tip

If you have large groups, instead of conducting the activity with the whole class, allocate students into smaller groups and have them play the game.

 


Drama Game: Paper Balls – Grammar Practice – Sentence structure

 

Type: Grammar practice

Age: all

Language level: all

Aim: Facilitate sentence structure analysis through concrete practice

Interaction Pattern: group work + whole group

Material: Paper to make notes

Timing: 5-7 min


Procedure:

This is a good activity to raise awareness to sentence structure and word order. Students should be able to ‘see’ the structure and actively think about it, instead of just passively receiving input from either the teacher or the textbook.

Also, the collaborative analysis of language has proven to foster the information to be more memorable, enhancing learning.

Tip

Since students will have to discuss a few things during the game, it would be nice for A1 students to be provided with model sentences to express their opinion. Otherwise, the activity will be either too challenging for them, or the main focus will shift from focusing on structure to struggling with expressing opinion. You could write on the board:

lousa3

Tell students you will play a game to practice the grammar they just learned. In this game, everyone will receive a paper ball that they CANNOT open.

Hand out one paper ball with previously written words to each student. The idea is that the paper balls contain words that can be arranged in sentences – or you can also use it for adjective order.

Tip

Write the words beforehand to save time, incite curiosity and promote a more realistic response from students since they don’t know which sentences they will have to form. Don’t make it too hard, though. Keep them short and simple. Remember, the objective is not for the game to be a challenge, but for student to experience the concrete formation of sentences in English.

Also, grade the questions in relation to what you want to observe in terms of production from your students. It could be question formation for A2 students or inversions to C2 ones.

Ask students to have a paper ball fight for 5 seconds (to mix the words up)

Divide students in small groups and assign them 2 or 3 minutes to try to build a sentence from the paper balls that must be all around by now.

Walk around and listen to what they are saying. This is the moment you help them, make sure they don’t use (much) L1 resorting to the models on the board and foster further analysis of the language.

Tip

It could be nice to have e brief feedback moment after the game, asking how the students felt, what is hard or easy during this kind of exercise.

By the end of this activity the group should be more aware of that class’ teaching point and ready for controlled and freer practice.


Well, I hope you enjoyed the ideas.

And as usual, have fun with the games!