“Worksheet time!” I call out, waving a small stack of freshly-copied papers. Students begin smiling as they put away their phones and sit up, talking excitedly to each other. Yes, that really happens! Now, I always include off-the-wall bits in my grammar worksheets because I love to hear my students laugh out loud while they’re working. I often see their favorite parts showcased on Instagram or Snapchat! However, sometimes worksheets are really dry and dull! And sometimes your class is just not awake on Monday morning. Read to discover how to transform worksheet time from ho-hum to WOW!
Hack your Worksheets to Infuse them with FUN
MYSTERY VOCABULARY WORDS: cooperation is key
Divide your class into teams or partners.
For worksheets where answers will vary due to student creativity, choose 3-5 words from recently studied vocabulary.
Don’t share this list with your students.
Instead, tell students that if they happen to use any of the chosen mystery words, they will get points for their team. This will ensure students don’t take the easy way out and write super simple sentences. Also, they will be more motivated to help each other because all of them will want to use different words (correctly) to increase their chances to win the most points.
I’ve found that everyone has varied levels of understanding for any given vocabulary word. When they discuss with one another how to best use a word in a sentence, they increase their understanding of that word. If possible, ban the use of any digital devices to “keep it fair” between the teams. My students are more likely to go along with a complete ban when it’s for a “game”.
VOCABULARY POINT POWER: worksheets go from blah to wow!
When having students do a worksheet where answers will vary due to student creativity, provide a list of vocabulary words you WANT them to incorporate into their sentences. Assign a point value for each word.
You can share the point values with your students or opt to keep that secret. Pair up the students. The student pair with the MOST points wins.
The first time you do this activity, some pairs might turn in identical answers, but it will only take one pair of students turning in papers with DIFFERENT answers (and thus gaining far more points) to ensure that they up their game to remain competitive.
I have always liked to allow them to discover this themselves, but you could point this out to them at the beginning or halfway through the time limit.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: worksheets that make quiet classes LOUD
Divide class into two teams. One team does all the even questions. The other team does all the odd questions. If possible, arrange the classroom so that there are two rows of chairs with one row facing the other with as MUCH space between them as possible. If this is not possible, simply have the students stand at opposite sides of the room. All the odds should be on one side and all the evens on the opposite side.
THEN, pair up students, one from each team. Have them stand/sit directly across from their partners.
Ready, get set, GO! All students share their answers with their partner. The first pair to have all the answers written down wins! With this activity, even my soft-spoken students find their voices and speak up in order to be heard. Not only do they practice whatever concept is on the worksheet, but they work on listening comprehension, speaking clearly, and practicing asking each other to speak up, repeat, or spell words.
NOTE: This can get REALLY loud, so check with those who share a wall with you to ensure they aren’t giving a test. When the weather is nice, I’ve taken my classes outside to do the partner part so that our noise doesn’t disturb anyway. If going outside, be sure to have some kind of line or other marker that students must stay behind when relaying information.
Try these hacks and let me know how they go with your classes!
Ready for some games? You’ll want to read Three Vocabulary Games Your Adult ESL Students will LOVE!