Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Was ist in der Tasche - Student Vocab Help

I've previously written about the activity Was ist in der Tasche?  It's a good, quick game to introduce or practice a vocab/cultural topic.  But because of the vocabulary involved in being able to ask helpful questions, it's something I haven't done much with German 1.  This year, I wanted to fix that and bring this activity down to the lower levels!

Each student got an index card.  I had them write "Was ist in der Tasche?" at the top.  First I explained the activity to them.  There was a bag ready to go, but before we started the actual 20 Questions we needed to come up with a process for not just asking random questions, but asking good questions.

Since they're limited to 20 questions total, I asked students if they thought it was a good idea to start specific.  Should they be asking things like, "Is it a cat?" and "Is it a pencil?"  The class agreed that wasn't a good strategy.  As a class, I had them brainstorm different categories and qualities they could ask about to narrow down the topic as much as possible before getting specific.  I then helped them with vocabulary and structures (as necessary).

Here are the topics they came up with (questions in English to open this up to other language teachers!):

Sample of student card
  • Size:  Is it big/small/long/short?
  • Texture:   Is it hard/soft/smooth/rough?
  • Shape:  Is it round/a circle/a square/etc.?
  • Color:   Is it blue/green/etc.?
  • Location:  Can you find it in a classroom/at home/in nature/etc.?
  • Living:   Is it an animal/object?
  • Activities:  Can you eat it/throw it/carry it/etc.?

Again, these questions and categories were based on what the students thought would be helpful.  As I wrote their topics and questions on the board, students were writing the sample questions on their index card.  I told them to put the card in their vocab notebook and hold onto it for the next time we did the activity.

To see if their questions were good, we did two rounds of "Was ist in der Tasche?"  For the first round, there was an apple.  We haven't done food yet, but the word Apfel has come up multiple times with our cognate exercises.  The next round had a frog in the bag.  We also haven't learned very many animals, but my animal posters made it something they could figure out (especially once they found out it was a green, living creature you would find in nature).

For both rounds, students were able to figure out what it was within 10 questions.  At the end, I asked if there were any other questions they felt needed to be added based on actually going through the activity.

I think the cards will really help them ask better questions - too often the students get stuck, completely unsure what to ask about (especially the first few times they do the activity).  We'll see how it goes!

- Frau Leonard

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