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Fingerball? What the...? (Modals for game rules)

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This is a great way to get your less conscientious students writing rules. It is more time-consuming than conventional activities(write rules for an ideal classroom etc.)but it is much more fun and everyone enjoys it- not just the strong students. It isn't my idea, but I stumbled across it and liked it so much I thought I'd pass it on. You should use this after you've presented and practised modals of obligation.

1 Brainstorm ball games and elicit rules for each

2 Put your students into an even number of groups/ pairs. Each group has to invent a new ball game for x number of players (the same number as in each group or less). Comp. check the NEW game part. (Students will automatically use L1 while they are considering ideas. I wouldn't jump on them about it immediately or you'll kill their enthusiasm).

3 Each group has to write the rules for their game.
I told them they could use anything in the room, which included a ping-pong ball, a ta-kraew ball and a basketball, nothing else.

4 Groups swap rules and each group has to demonstrate another group's game in front of the class. If they are doing something wrong, the group who wrote the rules TELL them what.

If you're sceptical about this, one of my lower-intermediate groups came up with 'Fingerball'.

'Players have to stand at the end of the desk. (They had to modify this verbally 'you have to stand opposite each other')
To score, you have to get the ball off the opposite side of the table. You can only use one finger to get the ball off. You only have one chance. When you are in goal, you can stop the ball with one hand. You are not allowed to use your arm. (They had to reinforce this verbally. No! You can't use your arm.) They also had to add 'If you flick the ball off the side of the table, the other player can take a penalty' which they hadn't thought of.

For two groups of three, this took around thirty-five minutes but my students (machine operators who are sent by their company) loved it.

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