I want to share a really fun lesson plan I used a few weeks ago. This was my opening class for a multi-level classroom. I have fluent native English speakers along with weak English speakers and one high level Hebrew speaking student. Every lesson is a challenge, but this one stood out as a keeper.
The lesson evolved around the poem "Casey at the Bat". I had the students research baseball basics before the lesson, as pre-homework. That ensured we didn't waste too much time on the technical aspects and also hinted towards the fun we were going to have. In class I reviewed the rules and warned them they would later have a test on it - but one they would like! We then read the poem in class and discussed characteristics of the poem, the meaning and the message and vocabulary. Before the lesson ended we went out to play baseball!
We played a version of baseball that allowed us to review the material in a fun, non-threatening way. Additionally, I could tailor the questions to fit each student's level. This is perfect for my multi-level classroom.
Here is how we played the game: I divided the class into two totally random groups (strength doesn't matter because the questions are matched for the student). The student "up at bat" had to answer a question. Easy questions would get them to 1st base, hard questions to 2nd base and super challenging ones got them to 3rd. As in baseball, if there was a team member on a base ahead of them, the team member also moved forward the same number of bases. Every "home run" earns the team a point. Each child got one question in a round. Once there was a strike - 3 questions that couldn’t be answered by the teammates - it was the other team's turn.
I had prepared different types of questions:
Straightforward ones such as comprehension - what happened in the poem; definitions of a word (They could define it or use the word in a sentence – a point for each one or 2 for both.); how to spell a word.
More abstract thinking questions – what are the 3 parts of the paragraph, what proves the character's arrogance.
The questions were adapted to the student's level of English. To ensure teamwork I allowed kids to consult within the team for answers.
This game demands preparation but the actual game itself was 15 minutes for 12 kids. You could also prepare varied questions - synonyms, grammar or punctuation examples, expressions, review of different parts of a story.
This version of baseball was a great fun way to review material taught in class or homework. It is especially good for varied level class, and I certainly plan on using it again! Let me know if you have tried this game in class. I would love to hear how you tailored it for your classroom.
Gaila has over 40 year of experience teaching and runs A.H.A.V.A., a non-profit to promote English literacy. Would you like to ask Gaila a question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message. Look out for more Dear Gaila columns!