A colorful lesson

This post is in part inspired by the Rhyme and Rhythm in ELT course with Jason Levine going on at iTDi right now. Jase, also known as Fluency MC, has a theory that acquisition of language has less to do with learning and use and more to do with repetition and relaxation.

I have a class of young learners who are learning colors this week. This is a review unit for them and they already know most of the basic colors. Their textbook introduces brown, black, and white and uses a chant to review the colors.

First the students listened and repeated the chant very slowly. Then I handed them each a colored marker. I asked them to stand up when their color came up in the chant. It took some ironing out, but they were good sports.

What I expected to happen was the whole class would chant while individual colors would stand and sit.

What actually happened was the students said only their own color and only repeated me. I figured enough repeating had happened, so I crossed my fingers and said, “one, two, three, go!” and held my breath. And they went: “purple, yellow, green and blue. Green and blue.” and then they stopped. And then they negotiated whether “and” went with green or with blue.

With that sorted out, they looked to me, and so I repeated, “One, two, three, go!”

Purple, Yellow, Green and Blue. Green and Blue.
Purple, Yellow, Green and Blue. Green and Blue.
Black, White, Brown, Red, Orange, too.
Purple, Yellow, Green and Blue. Green and Blue.

At the end they burst into applause and asked to do it again. So I collected the markers and redistributed them so that everyone had a different color (and different people had the four main colors) and we did it again. This time they re-negotiated “green and blue” during the chant and tried it a different way. And again at the end they applauded themselves.

We did it one more time (“green and” beat out “and blue“) before I let them use the markers to color. I think the activity was successful because each student got to be an integral part of the whole. It was an activity where every student could be involved in a positive way and I saw them supporting each other and paying attention and engaged in a way that other activities don’t usually inspire.

I also think using a chant and having a color to hold in their hand helped them speak without worrying about remembering the words or where their part is.

The students then provided more language as we moved on to “What’s your favorite color?” and they reported on their partners.

Next week  we can follow up by making a new chant that involves their favorite colors and test this “relax, repeat, remember” theory in my own class.

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  • Josette  On February 16, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    I love all the different opportunities for students to be engaged here: tactile, kinesthetic, auditory, collaborative, and maybe a bit of competition. A wonderful recipe for striving and success. Thank you for sharing, and the fun color coding too!

    • livinglearning  On February 17, 2014 at 12:29 am

      Dear Josette,
      Thank you for your comment. I hadn’t really thought about the lesson in terms of ways to be engaged but I see that you’re right and it is something I might take into consideration for other lessons. One thing that happened in class was that the weakest student started raising her hand to get a new color, paying attention, and did it perfectly every time. *Something* worked there and I am going to experiment more to find out what it was.
      Thank you for reading!

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