Mrs. Brown, who is a dedicated writing teacher, tries to apply new ideas to help her students learn better. She knows the fact that having students check their own work and give feedback to peers can help students to improve their work as well as promote greater awareness and autonomy (Topping, 2008). Now, she is in class having her students do some peer-checking. However, very soon the students’ energy level decreases…Some of them are even leaning on their desks and slouching…
We know that students tend to be more willing to take part in activities when the learning environment is stimulating and enjoyable. Whenever I feel my students’ motivation decreases, I pick my ‘emergency kit’ and look for activities that can bring some fun to class.
For instance, one activity my students love is “Musical Chairs”-the traditional game in which people have to walk around chairs placed in the middle of the room. It’s a great game that creates some good laughter and fun. I play the same game with a slight difference, though. Instead of competing for a chair and eliminating a student, I have students walk around the desks in order to work out something, i.e. could be “fill-in the blank” type of activities for grammar or vocabulary, using target vocabulary in sentences, or to give feedback to peers’ writings.
Let me share what I did with my students this week. My students had written an essay on the effects of advertisements, and they were to give feedback to their peers’ drafts. But as it had been a long day, and that I felt their motivation level was decreasing, I decided to play ‘musical chairs’ with them.
First, we arranged the seats in a way that students could move around as well as to give feedback to the papers that were on the desks. I then asked everybody to stand up ready with their markers.
When I played the music, students had to walk around the desks, and once I stopped the music, they had to stop in front of the paper and go through it to give feedback. Each time I stopped the music, they were to focus on different parts. For example, in the first run, I told them to analyze the thesis statement, and in the second run to look at the topic sentences of each paragraph, and so on. After this, I told them to look at the feedback they had received from their peers and re-write their drafts.
The same could be done for any other class. I hope you and your students will enjoy it as much as we did.
To see for some variations of the ‘Musical Chairs’ activity just click here.
Topping, K. J. (2008). Peer Assessment. Theory Into Practice, 48(1), 20-27. doi:10.1080/00405840802577569