Now these don't look all that pretty and to begin with when I saw them on the English Raven's blog I wasn't too sure what to do with them but I've since tried them twice. Once with my Burmese absolute beginner refugees and once with my mixed nationalities Entry One group. It was a learning experience that didn't work 100% with the beginner group. However, the E1 class was amazing.
I've really struggled with this group... none of my go-to ideas work that great... however, since trying a more unplugged approach I've really began to enjoy teaching this group.
So the lesson: Well the syllabus and exam does not require more grammar of them at this state than present simple and continuous so this activity was a bit risky.
I started by just chatting as they came in. I asked them what they did at the weekend. What they like to do normally and what they will do next weekend. Some great conversation ensued including teaching one of my Polish learners that the word he was looking for to describe how he felt after a fairly heavy weekend of drinking was rough. Then I handed out the grids and demoed on the board what I wanted them to put.
Then off they went... finding out from eachother. I've done FSW / grid activities before but the questions have already been provided. This gave them the freedom to ask a question in the past, present and future and it was easy for me to monitor and correct slips e.g. "you work last weekend?" "Oh sorry I worked last weekend" Despite not being on their syllabus it was well within their ability as we were not massively focusing on the form but rather communicating about their lives.
Loved it! Could easily have developed into a writing activity if I'd had time but "letting it run" worked so well that it lasted way longer than anticipated with all my learners fully engaged with eachother despite language, cultural, religous and gender! barriers!
Thanks again to Jason Renshaw!