Chalk Down, Turn Around

by Diane Gallant

I am a foreign language teacher and I made this one up for my students. It is called "Chalk Down, Turn Around".

I like it because it is very simple, requiring only chalk and a chalkboard and no advance preparation on the teacher's part. Students like it because it moves fast and is competitive.

Students are divided into two teams. One member of each team goes to board, and they stand side by side. I tell them the definition of a vocabulary word, they pick up the chalk and write what they think is the correct word, then put the chalk down and turn around.

Students can change their minds and erase their word to try again, but once the chalk is down, students cannot pick it up again. Also, seated team members cannot help by shouting clues.

The first student to have the vocabulary word correct and legible gets a point for their team. If both students know the word, it is a matter of spelling, speed and legibility. I am the judge as to what is legible.

If neither student knows the word, they get a new one - up to three times, after which they return to their seats. If students put the chalk down simultaneously, they get a new word to break the tie.

The game continues, with students taking turns going to the board and writing the words. The first team to reach the agreed-upon goal (10 points, usually, but this can vary according to time constraints) wins.

The game is very flexible and can be played for 5 minutes or 20. Another thing I do is I allow each team to choose a team name, but that also has to be one of their vocabulary words.

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