Classroom ideas, Games

Online games in a paperless classroom

My school’s policy on sharing materials and photocopies at the start of the 2020-2021 school year was simple: don’t share anything, don’t give handouts. Easier said than done when you don’t have a lot of time to digitalise (digitise?) resources you’ve spent several years building up. Despite an abundance of online resources and tools that teachers can use for online lessons, or even in a face-to-face classroom, this abundance was actually pretty overwhelming initially. Now more than ever, there are webinars on a weekly basis showing off new tools and platforms that certainly look fancy and swish, but for my own sanity, I decided to stick to a very small number of these.

My go-to platform this year has been WordWall – if you haven’t used this before, I really can’t stress enough how useful it’s been for me this year. A colleague at IH San Sebastián got me onto this and it has been a lifesaver! The free version lets you create 3 activities, and there are 2 possible subscription types, costing 5EUR or 7,50EUR.

My favourite template: Matching Pairs

Pelmanism, memory game, whatever you want to call it… it’s possible with WordWall! I usually have 2 sets: one set where you match a word and a picture, another where you match a word and its definition.

Click here to try this set for yourself.

Click here to try this set for yourself.

Here’s how I do it with my YL classes:

  1. Make sure you’re sharing your screen on Zoom.
  2. Open the Matching Pairs activity on WordWall and enlarge it.
  3. Use the Zoom annotation tool to number the cards (or get one of your online students to do it)
  4. If this is the first time you’re doing this activity, it’s a good idea to have some process language on the board too. Something simple like “Can I have number _____, please?” is fine. You can add this with the Text annotation tool on Zoom.
  5. Demonstrate the activity by clicking on a card. I usually get my learners to whisper the word to each other in pairs, then I count down from three. On zero, the learners shout out the word. I help with pronunciation as needed. I choose the next card, which may or may not be a match. There’s usually not enough time for learners to shout out the second word before the cards are returned face down to their original places.
  6. Nominate a strong pair to go first. Then work your way around the classroom, and remember your online student(s)!
  7. Keep score on the board or on a piece of paper. Each correct combination is worth 1 point.
  8. When only 2 cards are left, get learners to whisper the word to each other. The last 2 cards are worth 5 points, so learners race to write the word (correctly!) on their mini whiteboard.

Other things you can do on WordWall:

  • use the same content with different activity templates
  • download PDF versions of some of the activity templates
  • share your activities as links with other teachers or students
  • set an activity as an assignment for your students
  • search for ready-made activities from other teachers

Here’s a PDF of the second set I shared with you earlier. All you do is select the PDF template down the right-hand side of the screen, and voilà!

Top 5 favourite WordWall templates (besides Matching Pairs):

  1. Image quiz (slowly reveals a picture from your set)
  2. Maze chase (a little bit like Pacman)
  3. Gameshow Quiz (in the style of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire)
  4. Labelled diagram (you can upload a picture of your choice and create labels)
  5. Anagram / Unjumble (rearrange letters or sentences depending on the age group)

I’ve tried other paperless/hybrid/online variations of WordWall activities, but which would you like to find out more about? Let me know in the comments!

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