Sunday, January 26, 2014

Exposing It - Our Favorite Educational Games in ESOL

The past two years, I've been lucky enough to have a lead ESOL teacher that ropes me into presenting at conferences. Being this green, I wouldn't say it's fun, but then, I realize how much I get out of it and how much I learn. It is at these conferences that I realize how much I love sharing! So, thanks Jennifer! Our presentation has been entitled Apps, Websites, and Activities... Oh My! We realize there is understandably a push for technology, apps, and websites at all times; however, talking to our attendees, we learned that there are still so many schools that don't have access to technology like our very advantaged district. We had a chance to meet people from rural districts that said they don't have Ipads. I even heard from a couple of teachers who didn't have wireless access at their school. I can't take for granted how lucky I am to be in a district with resources.

On that note, I am happy that we presented games and kinesthetic activities to the teachers to take to their students. I learned the importance of "unwired" activities when I completed my practicum in Liberia. I learned quickly that I could not rely on technology, and I think my students appreciate the diversity. I also see more interaction with these type of games. For this post, I am sharing some of my students' favorite games, both for language practice and test prep. Keep this in mind for any of those times you may receive an allotment to spend for your classroom, or take this list to someone in your school to add to the resource room.

I want to really emphasize here that having a game center on my choice board has been one amazing sight to see. Not only do students stay engaged; they manage themselves and each other. They have fun, and their social barriers disappear. If my lesson ends early,or if students perform great on an assessment, we have another chance to pull these out for a few minutes, and I play with them. I will also say that we've had many a fun and informative conversation during these games. How powerful is that with ELLs? It's my favorite! With that, the list of games. Clicking on the names will direct you to their Amazon links.

For test prep and review, my favorites are...

  • Make-A-Monster - I've linked the 5th grade version, but it's available for grades 3 - 5 ELA. This one is ready to use without any extra work for you. There is also an answer card, so students can use this with each other.
  • JENGA - You can write site words on these. I create my own games for JENGA and will be a posting those in the next week or two. (UPDATE: See the new post for Tumble Towers Review Cards! More to come.)
  • Eggsperts - Use these for your made up review games or online quiz show games. You'd be amazed how crazy excited the students are when they walk in and these are set up.

For grammar and language practice:

  • Zingo - I like this game for my Spanish-speaking newcomers. They are able to join in yelling out the words since it's pretty repetitive.
  • Apples to Apples - Use this to teach students new vocabulary, synonyms, how to use adjectives and nouns. This practice is especially helpful for Spanish speaking students due to the fact that nouns and adjectives are used in the reversed order from English.
  • Jeepers Peepers or Headbandz - Great for practicing the language, but also teaches students how to ask questions and how to use interrogative words.

For word work and spelling:

  • Chunks - Helps students use blends.
  • Word on the Street - Students pull category cards and spell words to be the first team to clear their letters off the board.
  • Boggle - A classic, right? The great thing about Boggle is that there are so much reproducibles online for centers. I like to add points for the number of letters in their correct words.

Of course, there's a plethora of games that could be listed here. For instance, I can't wait to get my hands on Tapple! I just wanted to list the ones I've used and have seen success with. I hope that you will have fun using these games and not be afraid to use them in your classroom. There are so many ways to differentiate and extend lessons with these games. Your new language learners have built-in models with their classmates; and you can offer challenges to your stronger students. Have those students create new questions to add to the games. They can write sentences using words in the games. Have students write a persuasive paper about which game they get play or why they should play more games. Challenge them to use their game-playing experiences to create a class review game of their own!! Thing Blooms, y'all. Think of the impact that will have on their learning! Please share your classroom's experiences with games. I'm all ears, and can't wait to hear your ideas!

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