Evidence-Based Learning at School

Questions tags with manipulatives

(See background post “Manipulatives“)

Last time when I introduced question tags to my English class I started the lesson with my students taking notes of a video I found on YouTube:

Theo, the guy in the video, gives an excellent introduction to this topic using pen and paper while talking. He uses symbols (battery) and sketches that nicely point the watcher to the key points. I didn’t need to do any talking in this phase. Instead, I used my time to walk around and make sure everybody was actually taking notes.

After the video, I asked my students to discuss what they thought were the basic rules when dealing with question tags. I collected their (raw) concepts on our interactive whiteboard using the symbols from the video.

The next step was group work with manipulatives. Each group got a set of puzzle cards and had to arrange them in a way that the phrases of connecting sides would match correctly. This started a lively discusion within the groups. Puzzle pieces were busily rearranged. Our previously discussed concepts and rules were applied and debated.

question tag puzzle

solved question tag puzzle (c) Brown, Preller, The Pleasure Principle

I had prepared an interactive version for this puzzles for our digital whiteboard. After  group work I asked students from different groups to present a part of the solution on the whiteboard. Some additional reasoning and explanations followed but each group actually had completed their puzzle successfully. I had to give 2 groups a little help, however, by giving away the middle piece of the puzzle.

Finally everybody was supposed to copy all matching phrases into their exercise books.

The next day I started the lesson with a quick anonymous quiz and feedback with socrative that showed that the class had already developed some basic understanding on how to use question tags. The results were far better than those I usually get from my standard approach the years before. My students thought that puzzling quickly helped them to grasp the basic grammar rules for that topic.