Pedagogy

Games for Small Groups

Jessica Kirzane

INTRODUCTION

In geveb is publishing a series of games for use in Yiddish language classes. This game worksheet was generously shared with In geveb by Jessica Kirzane. We want you to use it in whatever way best aids your teaching. If you wish to alter or add to it, please make note of this in your new worksheet, and please keep the original attribution. You may send questions or comments to the creator through us: [email protected] Download a PDF here.

I developed this board game in response to a problem I was having in my classroom: each time I taught a new grammatical construction I found myself struggling, asking my three students to repeat the construction over and over again in order to remember it. In a larger class, as each student takes a turn with the new construction, the other students have a chance to hear it repeatedly and get comfortable with it. In a smaller class, I found myself creating puppets that students could speak to as extra members of the class, writing a lot of information gap exercises, and looking for other gimmicks that might make the experience of repetition more enjoyable. I found that if I asked the same questions without a game board, students lost interest and the class seemed to drag, but if I put in a game board and a pair of dice, the exercise somehow became fun and alive. With this particular game, my aim was to ask genuine questions that would allow students to present new information about themselves using the target grammatical constructions, hopefully also with some review of vocabulary taught throughout the course.

I created this exercise as a review for the final exam of a first semester university-level Yiddish course. The conditional tense was one of the last grammatical points covered in the curriculum that semester, so the material was fresh and students were still working to gain fluency in it. I had only three students in the class that semester, so we all gathered around the one board, but I imagine that larger classes should break into smaller groups to play the game. As we played, I encouraged students to use each question as a conversation starter, rather than simply answering and then moving on—so the game actually lasted quite a while.

The game worked quite well, although we never made it to the end; we kept getting side-tracked as students had conversations based on the questions. The game board and pieces added enough of a feeling of fun that they broke up the routine of my classroom and created a lighthearted atmosphere that helped to facilitate conversation.

MLA STYLE
Kirzane, Jessica. “Games for Small Groups.” In geveb, November 2015: https://ingeveb.org/pedagogy/games-for-small-groups.
CHICAGO STYLE
Kirzane, Jessica. “Games for Small Groups.” In geveb (November 2015): Accessed Aug 21, 2019.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Kirzane

Jessica Kirzane is a Lecturer in Yiddish at the University of Chicago. She holds a PhD in Yiddish Studies from Columbia University. Jessica is the Editor-in-Chief for In Geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies.