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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 9th, 2006, 02:32 am
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Default Speaking activities with desks in rows

I will be teaching classes of around 30 8-10 year olds. The classrooms are very traditional with blackboards, a stage for the teacher and desks in rows with very little space for manoeuvring between them. They will be speaking lessons. I'd really appreciate some good ideas about how to get the children working together with a minimum of fuss so that they are not always having to work with the child nearest to them. Unfortunately, I will not have my own room and as lessons are only 40 minutes long, I need really quick ways of getting the children into groups. One thing I've thought of is reading out the names of the children I'd like to work together and then rewarding the group who gets together the fastest. The main problem is with desks not being moveable though. Oops - I'm rambling. I'll stop.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 9th, 2006, 07:44 am
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

Ouch! the desks are nailed down?

As far as breaking them up, you can just number them. Go down the isles and call out a number (1 through 6 or however many number of groups you want.) Touch the kids on the shoulder or something as you number them. Touching them lets them know who you're talking to and that they need to remember that number.

Once you've finished just designate where in the room you'd like the 1s to go and the 2s, 3s, 4s... ready set go! the race begins.

You can do pretty much any activity once you're in small groups. If the game is complicated just use one group as the model while to other groups watch. Then, break up.

You can also start activities without every group really understanding. Once the other groups hve started then you can go around and help the needy.

Also, sometimes the kids will come up with better games than what you had explained. As long as they're using the English, who cares!
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 9th, 2006, 07:34 pm
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

Desks nailed down? Where are you teaching Stanley? In the 1950's???

Seriously though I am in the same boat as you because my desks are triangular (with the head cut off) in shape and placed in two semi circles, like you would see in a university. It looks cool but for the kids it's not practical at all.

Group works consist of arranging groups to run to certain corners and have them to play the activity or game there. I give a lot of points for good behaviour and for the group that finishes first. I think that will be the key for you because the kids will be difficult to control is they are in difference corners of the room.

Generally I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to group work so I usually arrange a game where they have to play in pairs or threes. A lot easier to control them and also I want to be able to walk around to check them and help out where needed.

Today I will do a review with 5th Grade which will involve placing cards and words on the velcro board and playing a board game of boys vs girls. I have placed in some "back to the start" and "miss a turn" cards and the kids always love it. Of course the winner get some special points!
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 10th, 2006, 04:09 am
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

i'm sorry. Before this spreads, I seem to have made up the nailed down desk thing.

I thought I read that stanley couldn't move the desks.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 10th, 2006, 04:39 am
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

Quote:
Quote mesmark
i'm sorry. Before this spreads, I seem to have made up the nailed down desk thing.

I thought I read that stanley couldn't move the desks.
Well he said that there wasn't much space between them and that they weren't really moveable so they might as well be nailed down

I think that people who teach in public schools might experience this problem a lot compared to teachers in private schools.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 10th, 2006, 05:18 am
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

No - they're not nailed down - at least I don't think they are! I've not actually started the job yet. Of course, I can slide them together. I just meant I didn't want to waste time rearranging the classroom and putting the desks into convenient groups of four. With only 40 minute lessons, this would not really be practical, especially as I'd have to move them back for the next teacher, who would be Chinese and rather more traditional! Hope that's a bit clearer now!
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Unread Jul 10th, 2006, 08:02 pm
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

A pragmatic solution would be to have your lesson as the first one or the last one each day. That way some of the rearranging could be done before or after class. Just a thot.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 10th, 2006, 08:48 pm
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

Alas - not possible. My slots are fixed, as are the class groupings (grouped according to ability in Chinese and maths - English is an afterthought). There are only 10 minutes between lessons and I'll often have to get to another class in another building during that time. Thanks for the suggestion, nevertheless.
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  #9 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 11th, 2006, 03:03 am
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

I bet once you pick a routine you can get the kids to do it pretty quickly.
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  #10 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 11th, 2006, 05:57 am
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

yeah - you're probably right. Just a bit of pre - new job nerves I guess. It's a while since I taught in such a formal classroom environment. Thanks to so many great ideas on this website though, I'm now really excited about it.
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  #11 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 11th, 2006, 08:46 am
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

Teach the kids a simple and short song like "London Bridge is Falling Down" (first song that came to my head - maybe repeat the first verse) and teach them that everytime the students hear this song they have to get up and move their desks into a certain order. It will take you some time to get them to do this (probably 5 or 6 times at least) but when they have it off you will never have a problem with them moving their desks then
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  #12 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 11th, 2006, 07:31 pm
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

Have you taught in China before, Stanley?

I bet when you look back in a few months time, the desks thing will have turned out to be the smallest issue you've faced.

Having said that, I wish you the best of luck and hope you have a great time. There are a lot of experienced teachers here who are regular posters, so keep us updated on your progress!
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  #13 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 11th, 2006, 09:09 pm
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

emile - yes I have taught in China before, but not since 1989, when I was a brave young twenty-something! I realize there'll be other difficulties, but, at the moment (this may change!), I'm seeing those as a potential challenge rather than a hindrance. I will keep you up-dated though - thanks for your interest.
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Unread Aug 8th, 2006, 07:06 pm
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

I've used a ton of different methods to get students into groups that are different than just numbering off or calling out names that are time savers as well.

One such example is to prepare index cards ahead of time with different numbers, colors, shapes, words, etc. on them. Hand one to each student as they enter the classroom at the beginning of class. If you'll want your students to get into more than one group during a specific class period, you can even use two (or more) different types of classifiers on each card. Then, when you want the students to get into groups, just tell them that you want them to find the others with the same color or same word, etc. (You can still use a reward for the first group to get together, if you want.)

In addition to that, you can find some great speaking games at the website below that can be easily adapted to your classroom situation.
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  #15 (permalink)  
Unread Aug 11th, 2006, 04:20 am
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Default Re: Speaking activities with desks in rows

Get students, in small groups, to practice in front of the class.
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