When I talk to my colleagues in other content areas, they are always telling me about games that they play to reinforce skills with their students. Math games, History games, Science games... and of course games in Phys. Ed. These are always discussed with great joy as students love playing these games and they seem to do a really good job of teaching content in an engaging way. So what are some games that I can play in English Language Arts?
One idea is Musical Writing. It is a fun spin on Musical Chairs. Although it is based on a game meant for young children, I have played this game successfully with high school students. It gets kids up and moving, and it has students practice writing in context.
Set up chairs so that they are facing outward in a circle. There should be a chair for each student. Unlike traditional Musical Chairs, you will not be removing chairs as the game goes on. Students will each sit in a chair with a notebook and a pen or pencil. Students will be given a particular time frame to write. This time frame should be very short, but think about your students and their abilities when you choose a length of time. The teacher will need to decide if there will be a prompt or if this will be an opportunity for free writing. I like doing this activity with a prompt because it will allow students to see how different writers approach a similar prompt in very different ways.
Allow students to write for their given times and then have them stop and drop their writing on their chairs. Just like in musical chairs, play music for a few moments and have students travel around in a circle. When the music stops, they stop, sit down, and pick up the writing that was left behind on the chair. They must read what has been written so far and then continue the writing. The teacher should consider that each round of writing will require more time to allow students to read the story that has been created thus far by their classmates.
When the game is almost over, tell the students that this will be the last round. When the music starts, their job will be to read the story and conclude it in some way. Once the stories have been wrapped up, have each student collect his or her original notebook and read how their first few sentences were changed by their classmates. Have students share any extraordinary stories with the class. You might even do a carousel activity to allow students to read all of the stories.
Food for thought... do you have any favourite ELA games?