We’ve heard from Bill VanPatten that true communication has a purpose (i.e. cognitive-informational, and psycho-social). In the latest Tea with BVP, Bill stated those two purposes more clearly in teacher-friendly terms in that “we communicate in order to learn, build, create, entertain, and socialize.” My students love creating, entertaining, and socializing, so those are the three main purposes in my classroom.
Dictation, however, can easily have NONE of those purposes, lowering it down to the acceptable “activity,” but possibly the unacceptable “exercise” level, thus, rendering it non-communicative. Many of us have used Running Dictation (see an overview at the end of this post) to keep students moving and engaged, but in order to give dictation more of a social and entertaining purpose, I’ve combined it with the competitive Trashketball.
Sometimes a Running Dictation is done and over with before I’ve even had time to monitor the room twice. Ugh, right? I mean, it’s not like the prep took more than 5min (e.g. printing, cutting, and taping), but I’m usually just underwhelmed by the outcome, and so are the students. I’ve also not had great success with verifying the work students do afterwards while also providing Comprehensible Input (CI) via Personalized Questions & Answers (PQA). My solution is a combo with Trashketball, (also known as the Word Chunk Team game, but I don’t like the word “chunk” unless referencing one of the best movies from the 80’s). This also gives an entertaining purpose for completing the Running Dictation instead of just letting the fast processor pair finish first. So, after there’s a Running Dictation winner (though I usually do Top 3), immediately transition into Trashketball:
- teams choose name, and gesture
- randomly select a student (e.g. from names already to go in a bowl, drum, skull, etc.)
- that student’s team stands up, says name, does gesture
- ONLY THAT STUDENT translates (in this combo with Running Dictation, the translation is a line from the story you choose)
- student can get help from group
- understandable (or “correct” if you wanna be like that) translation gets the group X throws of a foam ball into a basket, or trash/recycle bin).
For this combo, it’s best to have groups of 3 rotate for the Running Dictatio (so there are 3 students for the Trashketball teams).
Running Dictation overview:
- students run to story sentences taped on walls
- memorize a sentence
- run back and dictate to partner(s)
- translate together
- switch roles