Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Vocabulary Pyramid Game

By Patricia Hedden - Winchester Public Schools, Virginia, USA

Almost every professional development workshop I've attended in the last few years has made use of Kagan structures, suitable for children or adults. A specific game (not Kagan) I picked up from a recent workshop was a hit with the adult workshop participants and has been a hit with my elementary ESL students.

It's based on the 25,000 Pyramid TV game show. All you need are a blackboard / whiteboard and prepared cards with illustrated vocabulary. The illustration is key to reinforcing and prompting meaning if necessary.

Draw a large triangle on the board, divided into three levels. The top level holds one word, the middle two words, and the bottom three words. The top level is worth 200 pts, the middle 100 pts. each, and the bottom 50 pts. each, and words into the triangle by level of difficulty. Students sit facing each other. The student who can see the triangle gives clues to their partner, identifying the level. "For 50 points, ..." Partners change positions, and you change the words on the board.

The game is a little easier if you stick to one topic in a round, for example, things we do at home or occupations. My students are fluent orally but struggled in trying to explain the meaning of the science and social studies content words, so I did quite a bit of modeling at first.

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