18/100: Reflecting on Penny Ur’s Teaching Tips – 5. Learning-Rich Games

Looks can be misleading! Naomi's Photos
Looks can be misleading!
Naomi’s Photos

This is part five of my blogging challenge.

As a veteran teacher it is easy to fall into the trap of doing things a certain way just because I’ve done them that way for years, without remembering the reason why. 

I’ve decided to set myself a blogging challenge – reflect on one tip from each of the 18 sections that compose Penny Ur’s latest book: “100 Teaching Tips”, so as to dust off old practices that may have remained unexamined for too long.

Tip Number 22: “Check games are learning rich”

A teacher can never be reminded too often of this tip. It’s so very easy to be seduced by an attractive looking game that has English on it, only to discover that it should have come with a warning label: “Can be played without understanding a word of English”.

Students, especially those with a learning disability, are experts at playing games using cues that aren’t the practice target. If you want your students to actually practice identifying the prepositions, make sure that all the pictures that correspond to the preposition “on”, don’t have a dog in them while all the pictures corresponding to “in” have a cat in them. Picture cues or color coding are a dead giveaway.

If you use a board game with activity instructions printed on the board itself, (instead of on cards which can be shuffled) the game may become useless after the first round. The students are quick to remember “if you land here you go forward three, if you land there you go back two…) and then they stop reading the English on the board completely.

A tip to bear in mind each time one plans to use a game.


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