Where’s the dog? Stage 4

Stage 4: Powerpoint for this stage (Powerpoint 2011): Dónde está el perro 4

Surely it’s over now?!  Well, nearly.  You can tag this on to the last stage if you want, but be careful of overload – you’ll end up talking more than the class, and that’s not the idea.

Here, the game is exactly the same, it’s the chewing it over at the end that’s developed.  The idea is to establish who is winning each time the game is played.  In Stage 3 it was about contrasting yesterday and today.  Here it is about who was winning before this last round today.  There are a couple of links with a register routine here, too: ¿Cuánto tiempo ha tardado Wayne? / ¿Cuánto tiempo hemos tardado en pasar lista?  The other is ¿más o menos? Wherever possible, I like to transfer structures and expressions, especially ones which contain less cognate forms, across routines.  On the one hand it shows pupils how to do it and they are more likely to do it themselves.  On the other, it helps to establish the meaning much more clearly and securely for anyone in the class who was still wondering what they meant.

Closing thoughts

Some may wonder if it is really necessary to teach numbers 1-30 in Year 7.  After all, shouldn’t they have got at least this far in primary school?  Well, yes and no.  It may be that some in the class are starting the language from scratch in secondary having studied another in primary school.  So yes, they need to.  However, there are always some (at least in my classes!) who have studied the language in their primary school but are still quite shaky on the most basic things – alphabet, numbers, colours, days, dates, etc.  Their shakiness may be in knowing the vocabulary (especially when they have to access it out of order) or in pronunciation.  Rule number 1 of teaching mixed-ability: Never take anything for granted.  An activity like this is excellent for such mixed-ability or mixed-experience groups and fits in perfectly with the concept of comSIMPLEplexity – teaching something simple which gives you the opportunity to use more complex language around it.  Those who already have their numbers sorted will still get a huge amount out of an activity such as this because of all the classroom language around them.

There are other applications of this activity beyond practising numbers, of course.  Instead of counting, you might choose to use the alphabet or a piece of continuous text on the topic you are teaching.  In this case, it would be about how far you got through the text before the dog was found rather than which number you reached.

It often seems natural to do an activity once and then move on, but hopefully this series of posts will have shown that there is a lot to be gained by doing them again, but upping the challenge in the process.  For a Year 7 class starting in September it is possible to reach the fourth stage by the end of the first term, and once you are used to running this sort of interaction, by the end of the first half-term.  By increasing the range and complexity of structures that they use confidently and communicatively (communicative, incidentally, has nothing to do with Post Offices, asking directions, hotels or buying ice-creams, but that’s another post, another day), pupils can become much more spontaneous, much more accurate, and they have a much broader base in which to discover pattern, and from there they can explore grammar.  And that’s another fun game to play…

Where’s the dog? Stage 3

Stage 3: Powerpoint for this version (Powerpoint 2011): Dónde está el perro 3

We’re not done yet.  As pupils get used to the game and how it’s played, and their appreciation of how lessons run and what they are allowed / not allowed to do, the rate of progression which I introduce picks up quite quickly.  You have to work out for yourself when it’s right to move on a stage, and if you get it wrong, it doesn’t matter, you can always go back a stage.  And if you feel you’re stringing the whole thing out too long, you can always change the dog for something else.  I have a veritable zoo in my cupboard, and it’s a great way of teaching them vocabulary for animals without having to have a lesson on animals.  Incidentally, in French this is an excellent opportunity to show the correspondence between Le and Il (in blue), and between La and Elle (in red): (Où est le chien? Il est là! / Où est la vache? Elle est là!).

In this stage (by which point you may want to use different numbers, starting at, say, 60, or counting in multiples of ten or a hundred), the whole thing kicks off with trying to remember who won last time and who lost.  What a good opportunity to show the difference between singular and plural verbs: Perdió Jane / Perdieron Jane y Charmaine / Jane a perdu / Jane et Charmaine ont perdu.  In Spanish this, I think, is the best way for them to “catch” the unEnglish word order of verb-subject.

The request to be the volunteer is fleshed out a bit and there are more imperatives for slinging the pupil out.  You could, of course, use just as many the first time around, but if there is too much new language, it won’t “take”, and the activity is reduced to pupils reading off a screen rather than acquiring these new phrases and structures.  Within this interaction within the classroom, the scope for using negative imperatives is significant.  Here, “no mires” (ne regarde pas).  It is useful in French, but especially so in Spanish, where negative imperatives use present subjunctive forms.  –ar endings and –ir/-er endings swap over, and it’s a detail which can normally be very confusing to pupils who haven’t got their endings and infinitive categories clear yet.  However, in the context of classroom interaction, the intensive, episodic nature of the experience makes both the meaning clear and the pronunciation (as long as you check it).

Here also, the class is given more language for hiding the toy and for checking with the returning pupil that they haven’t looked or seen anything.  Incidentally, this is a good moment in Spanish to produce a packet of Bisto and wave it around, don’t you think?  Ah, Visto!  It will stop those Vs being pronounced as Vs, that’s for sure.  Try it.  They’ll think you’re mad, but we just have to put up with such rejection.  It’s all part of the job. (Ask Ofsted).

Having hopefully located the dog’s hiding place, and announced its whereabouts, the class plays deaf: “¿Está dónde?”, emphasis being placed loudly on the dónde.  There’s another interrogative hammered home, and we’re only 5 minutes into the start of the lesson.