One of the ways to make learning more effective is to transit from mechanical work to more engagement with the target grammar or vocabulary items focusing on the use of forms for own production of students.
My today’s post describes an adaptation of the extended version of Noughts and Crosses (or Tic-Tac-Toe) that offers a higher level of challenge for students turning a tense review into a personally relevant and meaningful activity.
For the game, students will need coordinate grids with each square defined by the horizontal axis (Simple, Continuous, Perfect and Perfect Continuous) and the vertical axis (Present, Past and Future.
a 3×4 grid – for tenses in active voice,
or a 6×4 grid for tenses in active voice and passive voice.
Before the game:
This is an optional step, however, it could be rather helpful, especially if you have a multi-level class.
Get your students to fill in the grid with verb forms to use as an extra scaffold when they play the game. If you wish to focus entirely on the form, introduce a new ‘verb’ – for example, ‘to chocolate’.
You can also coin a ‘verb’ using some culture-specific concept or realia of your students’ culture.
For example, I like to use ‘to burek’ with my Montenegrin students (a burek is a national Montenegrin pie) –
I burek every day – I’ve just bureked – I’ll burek tomorrow – I’d bureked before she came back home, etc.
This stirs up much laughter in the classroom, boosting retention – students remember the forms way better.
How to play the game:
Pair up students and ask them to draw a grid (6×4 grid; with 4 spaces ‘your choice’) to play the game.
1. In order to place a mark X or O, the players should make a sentence true about them or somebody they know in the corresponding tense form. They may choose any square they wish to place their marks (X or O) in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row. The players are not allowed to put their marks in the same square so they have no option but to use different tense forms.
For Grid 1
The player who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a row wins the game.
For Grid 2
The player who succeeds in placing four of their marks in a row wins the game.
Add more value:
You can also use the game to revise vocabulary while reviewing tenses. Have your students make a list or fill in the grid with the vocabulary they have recently learnt (don’t limit it to verbs only; include adverbs, nouns or adjectives). Lots of variations here: for example, ask students to fill in one square in the grid with target vocabulary and then pass on their grids to another pair, exchange again, and so on, until all the grids are filled in. In order to place a mark X or O, the players should make a sentence true about them or somebody they know in the corresponding tense form, using the word given in the square in their sentence.
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