I'm Psychic

I would like to make it enthusiastically clear that the only games and activities that actually work with students who are learning a language, games that don’t waste time,  are games that delivery hefty amounts of CI without the use of L1.
That means dumping most if not all of the games and “learning activities” that we have developed or borrowed from colleagues over the years. They don’t work. They may engage the kids, but at what cost?
We now know that games and activities, with their totally unproductive mix of English and visiting between students, are used by us to the great detriment of our programs. We might as well not be teaching our students when we use those activities.
The value is in the comprehensible input. Accordingly, I have developed a CI based game that actually delivers pure CI to teach time and date expressions. Moreover, it is a marvelously effecive tool to further personalize our classrooms. We all know that, like using comprehensible input and using SLOW, we can never personalize enough. We can always find out more and more bizarre and yet meaningful things about our kids that the other kids in the class never seems to forget.
So here is the one game that actually delivers pure CI for me (I’m sure there are more and if you have one share it here – I’ve added this one to a new category called “Games – CI based” for this site in the category list). Here is how to play this game with your students:
1. Just look at the kids to start a class and say “I’m psychic.” in the target language. That gets their attention. They look at you with that “What’s next?” look of genuine intrest.
2. Then look at one kid who likes to play the game and start thinking. Put your hand on your chin and look up into the air and tap your fingers on your chin and act like you are trying to figure out something. That builds interest.
3. All of  a sudden, point at the kid and say a month, any month, like March. Act as if you are certain about that month. Say it stongly, sing it, chant it. Of course, the kids, who have never done a chapter in a book called “Months, Calendar, Time of Day”, are curious to know what you are saying, and so they all signal you with the fist punch move that they use whenever they don’t understand the CI they are experiencing.
4. This takes you to the board to clarify, since you went out of bounds in this freestyle kind of PQA. Just write down “March” in the TL and say that this is what you have psychically understood is that kid’s birthday. Be proud of how psychic you are.
5. Of course you are wrong, so you then act outraged that your psychic abilities have abandoned you. You ask if someone is “jamming” your powers with negative thought patterns (when I do this I look directly at my most negative kid with a smile). then try again.
6. Once you have guessed the month, start the entire process over with the date. Another valuable target that comes up in this activity is, “He was born/You were born” so include that into the CI as well.
7. Once you have the kid’s month and date of birth, occasionally throwing in the year just so that the class can hear that CI as well, you go to another kid or on to your lesson. It’s probably best just to work with one kid per class in this way.
You can also guess things like time (the time they were born). They can lie to you. Just have them write down a time on a piece of paper and show it to the person next to them and then begin the guessing game again.
This game teaches them time and calendar expressions using comprehensible input and is more fun for them than filling out blanks in a workbook on this topic.



12 thoughts on “I'm Psychic”

  1. Aaah! (everything is interesting!)
    Thank you Ben. I now have my Monday morning CI warm-up (wake-up…first class @ 7:30am). Anyone with CI-ONLY games, please share! Let’s see if I can come up with one…great category idea!

  2. Brian we already have “Games – CI based” as a category. I offer this “I’m Psychic” game plus the One Word Images (not really a game but that simple) and the Word Chunk Team activity, both on the resources link of this site. Other games – only stipulation is no English and no output required by the kids – are welcome!

  3. Amazing! I really love this idea. I need to teach days of the week, months and dates and I was struggling on how to do this without useless worksheets. I LOVE this idea!
    A “game” to consider that we do every once in a while in my classes is “Señor dice..” or “Simon says..” While we were doing TPR the first few weeks many students said many times we should “play” Simon says”. So we did after I felt we had enough vocabulary built up. The students loved it. Now, about 2-3 times per week they ask to play Señor dice.. I of course do not do it on a weekly basis but every couple of weeks when we’ve built up a good chunk of vocabulary/structures and gestures we’ll do a game of Señor dice. My students absolutely love it and they in fact beg for it all the time. And I don’t even see it so much as a game, I see it as recycling and practicing all of the words they’ve learned thus far. And it’s A LOT of repetition of the “s/he says..” structure.

  4. I am not sure where I got this but it meets Ben’s criteria and it is fun…
    After a story or any CI, have two student stand facing each other with a table/desk between them. Put a soft object (stuffed animal/a play sized football, sock etc) on the desk that is between them.
    Then the teacher says true and false statements. The object: For every true statement about the story/ci students try to be the first one to grab the object for a point for his/her team.
    If the statement is FALSE neither should try to grab it. If one does the team loses 2 points for their team. Have a student keep score on the board.
    I let each group of two play to 5 points. When one of them has five points the person from the team w five points plays against another person from the team with the fewest points.
    It is a good way to review details of the story/cycling. Lots of CI

  5. I used to play that game, called the eraser game, but the other students would start visiting. What if every partner pair is divided into person A and person B, so half the class is on Team A and half the class on Team B, then each partner pair has a soft object to grab and then everyone has to listen to every true/false statement. (borrowed from Tools for Teaching) Then keep track of all the As for Team A and all the Bs for Team B.

    1. That is the main problem I have with the “smack it” game, too. Words on the board in English, I say the Spanish and two students at a time smack the translation–but the other students aren’t really paying attention.

      1. For the slap game you can prepare 81/2 by 11 paper with words or pictures on it, photocopy so that every two people have a sheet and then have everyone play.

  6. A thing I do with the date is leave yesterday’s date on the board, tell the kids it is yesterday, wait for them to correct me, act amazed (Oh, wednesday the 6th of april was yesterday?? Today is thursday the 7th?? and tomorrow will be friday??), give them the wrong year, give them days like 25 december, 14 february, etc. just to hear them say no. I do Simon Dit with weather gestures, I have gestures for many weather terms so we can insert them in stories. It’s not a game, but I do a lot of simple songs with the class, some of which I made up, to rehearse things like prepositions, they sing and gesture, it’s a fun activity, and the gestures help them remember the words (in, on, under etc.)

  7. Sure, Melanie, that would work and I have done that. What did you mean by “students would start visiting?”
    One thing I left out is that I always let the “teams” decide if the statement is true/false so they have to listen too.
    Also, do you know who wrote “tools for teaching?”

  8. oops just remembered, Fred Jones – Tools for teaching…
    I must have gotten it off from one of the sites because I have not read that book yet:)

  9. By visiting, I mean, when I just had one student from each team come up at a time, the other students would start talking to each other and weren’t getting the CI. I thought if everyone competed every time, that would solve that problem.

  10. Bingo can be played this way: put a list of current vocab on the board (in TL). Kids write structures into nine bingo squares (they can draw their own board on a mini white board or just on their paper, but doing it on a white board is better for them to copy spelling frequently if they want to change their board).
    Teacher says random sentences from the story and when kids hear a phrase from their board, they mark it. At “Bingo,” they have to uncover their structures and tell you what they are in English.

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