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Conversation Winter Camp (help)
« on: November 18, 2019, 12:12:39 pm »
I teach middle school and just got told last week, that I'll have twenty different classes for winter camp (in my first school so just one week) with basically different students for each class and only a few students I'll see more than once. Each class will be 45 minutes (3 classes a day) and it will range from 4-16 students each class. The classes can be mixed with 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade or just 1st grade, just 2nd grade or just 3rd grade (I only saw the schedule briefly. They haven't given it to me yet).

They said they want it to be a conversation class/camp. A different topic a day (like restaurant, airport, etc.) but I'm lost at what to do and how to keep it entertaining and not boring for both me and the students. Has anyone had to do some sort of conversation class and what did you do? I'm racking my brain for ideas and crawling this site as well.

Is teaching them common phrases and having them use them and simulate the situation with a game/script good enough? Hoping if anyone has better ideas to contribute! Thank you.


Re: Conversation Winter Camp (help)
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2019, 02:01:35 pm »
For one of the days you could do a Mad libs style conversation. If you don't know what Mad libs are just search it online. Aside, from that for each class I would just do half of it as a conversation and the other half of it as a game. If you can get away with it. 


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Re: Conversation Winter Camp (help)
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2019, 04:57:28 pm »
Hmm who organised this format? Seems like an absolute nightmare. Have they actually tried to think about what it would be like to teach a camp that is this badly organised / thought-out lol? Roll some knuckle bones to see how many kids to plan for for each day, and then consult your tea leaves to see what topic to teach.

If possible I'd see if you can change it, especially as you're the one who has to prepare and teach the damn thing. Tell them you want 20 students maximum, same kids each and every day. Then you can actually start to plan something coherent. Hopefully they'll wake up and realise what a shit show they've planned for you  :cry:
« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 05:05:16 pm by Datasapien »
"A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man." - Jebediah Springfield.


Re: Conversation Winter Camp (help)
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2019, 01:25:14 pm »
Hi
As said by others - this is an awful schedule. 
One thing that seems to work OK is 'Speed Talk'.  It is based on the idea of 'Speed dating' but I don't use that term!!!  I teach at elementary school level and use it from grades 3-6 and have used it with adults as well.

On the board/powerpoint/flashcards I have some 'small talk' type questions (and other topic related questions) to give them something to talk about.  They talk for 1 minute (elementary school level - maybe 2 or 3 minutes depending on the level of your students).  (I use a countdown timer on the computer or my watch/phone etc).  Then they rotate around and get a new partner.  If there is an uneven number of students I join in.  Obviously it would not work well with less than 3 students.

The purpose is to have everyone talking together at the same time (as you would at a party/social situation) and then change partners to develop fluency. 

Normally I would change partners 4-5 times.  So it would take 6-9 minutes depending on how long it takes to organise the students - plus read through the questions to check they understand them and any possible answers they can use - if you want it to take longer.
I do this as a warm up activity every day of the camp - you can change one or two questions each day/session so it doesn't matter if you have the same students again!

Now you only need to fill in another 35 minutes!

I have also used bogglesworld (I think) board games.  Something like throw a dice to move and then make a statement about  word on the square and then ask 2 students a question related to that topic.  A couple of different board games (in case a student comes again).

I did this with a group of teachers.  We didn't worry too much about moving forward and winnng the game - it was just a means of getting conversation going.

Another game I made which is simple is 'One dice game'  It has 6 questions on it (obviously you can change these questions) and students take turns throwing the dice, other students ask the question, they answer etc.  If they throw the number again they still must answer the question again but no extra point.  The winner is the student who throws all 6 numbers first.
I had 5 or 6 different board games so they can play the game again with a new set of questions.



Re: Conversation Winter Camp (help)
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2019, 01:40:27 pm »
A couple of other speaking/conversation type activities are attached below.
Also the Bogglesworld games I mentioned in the previous post.

I am sure you will be able to find some other ideas yourself that fit your style.

Actually - while looking at those materials I want to change my previous comment.  I think this would be quite a low pressure type of camp (unless you get 16 all at once and they are not well behaved). 

I think I would quite like to try a camp like this myself!
If you need to have different topics you can call the different sessions - conversations when meeting friends in the street, talking with friends at a party, meeting friends again after vacation, talking about your vacation, making new friends, joining a club and meeting new people, ....

Relax and enjoy it.  It seems much less stressful than preparing 20 hours of camp for grade 3-5 elementary school students.  But I guess it depends on your students.


Re: Conversation Winter Camp (help)
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2019, 02:32:29 pm »
For one of the days you could do a Mad libs style conversation. If you don't know what Mad libs are just search it online. Aside, from that for each class I would just do half of it as a conversation and the other half of it as a game. If you can get away with it. 

Yeah I love Mad Libs. Haven't used it in a class format but I'll look it up. Thanks!


Re: Conversation Winter Camp (help)
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2019, 02:35:43 pm »
Hmm who organised this format? Seems like an absolute nightmare. Have they actually tried to think about what it would be like to teach a camp that is this badly organised / thought-out lol? Roll some knuckle bones to see how many kids to plan for for each day, and then consult your tea leaves to see what topic to teach.

If possible I'd see if you can change it, especially as you're the one who has to prepare and teach the damn thing. Tell them you want 20 students maximum, same kids each and every day. Then you can actually start to plan something coherent. Hopefully they'll wake up and realise what a shit show they've planned for you  :cry:

I think it might be a bit easier than I think. I was just kind of surprised when they told me, because I had something already. (I did my summer camp at a different school because both schools were under construction and that was a normal summer camp schedule) I'll try to see if I can get a better schedule, but I doubt it. My main school is nuts and frankly, this seems very on brand with them lol


Re: Conversation Winter Camp (help)
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2019, 02:38:22 pm »
A couple of other speaking/conversation type activities are attached below.
Also the Bogglesworld games I mentioned in the previous post.

I am sure you will be able to find some other ideas yourself that fit your style.

Actually - while looking at those materials I want to change my previous comment.  I think this would be quite a low pressure type of camp (unless you get 16 all at once and they are not well behaved).

I think I would quite like to try a camp like this myself!
If you need to have different topics you can call the different sessions - conversations when meeting friends in the street, talking with friends at a party, meeting friends again after vacation, talking about your vacation, making new friends, joining a club and meeting new people, ....

Relax and enjoy it.  It seems much less stressful than preparing 20 hours of camp for grade 3-5 elementary school students.  But I guess it depends on your students.


Thanks so much for this!!!! I'll definitely see how I can incorporate it into the camp if I can.

I do think it might be easier than I think. And at least hopefully in the small classes it'll be a chill 45 minutes. But, it just seems like a lot at the moment. I expected to do winter camp like I did summer camp. Now, I gotta wait and see what my second school has waiting for me. Thanks again!


Re: Conversation Winter Camp (help)
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2019, 01:26:57 pm »
I highly recommend looking up linguahouse.com for ideas. You'll have to create an account, but it is free. Some things are free to download, others you would need a subscription, but they come up with really well thought-out lesson plans on just about anything and they will provide comprehension and discussion questions for you to use. I've been tutoring lessons with some of the teachers at my school and I use that site all the time, as well as teach-this.com.


Re: Conversation Winter Camp (help)
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2019, 03:18:25 pm »
I highly recommend looking up linguahouse.com for ideas. You'll have to create an account, but it is free. Some things are free to download, others you would need a subscription, but they come up with really well thought-out lesson plans on just about anything and they will provide comprehension and discussion questions for you to use. I've been tutoring lessons with some of the teachers at my school and I use that site all the time, as well as teach-this.com.

Thanks so much!! I think this will work especially well with the classes with only 2-4 students.