Instead of droning on to the students about who might need the spinners and who doesn’t, I decided to let them use information to decide for themselves. A colleague of mine shared an article from BBC Mundo with an easy to understand title for our novice level students. While she decided to share only the title with her students, I decided to take it one step further.
To help acclimate the students to the conversation, I created a word cloud from the article using Tagul.com. As an aside, I love this site as it allows you to change the shape of your cloud (and upload your own image) and to save the clouds you make for later use.
Day two meant diving deeper into the article. I created a t-chart for students to place evidence in the categories of tool or toy.
After assigning each sentence to a category, we switched into English. Based on the evidence, we had a short conversation about whether fidget spinners were tools or toys and whether they should be allowed in school. It was important to me to have the end conversation - just a few minutes long - in English to ensure that we were all on the same page and that they heard themselves and each other give the answers. In each of my five classes, students concluded that the spinners were ok for kids who need it but that they had become just another toy that was a distraction to themselves as well as their peers and teachers.
In having students do the “research” and come to the conclusion themselves, I’m hoping this conversation will have an impact on their choices. This was an incredible opportunity to address a current issue in a positive and engaging way while using the target language and pushing students to think and engage in that language.
This, of course, works for any current event. What was a big thing in your school that you could find an article for?