Three CLIL activities for the end of a chapter

November 26, 2018


Finishing the chapter in a CLIL way

During many lessons the structure makes sense: You do a short recap, give an instruction somewhere, students do some work etc. But that is not what you during the final lesson for a test right? 

At the end of the chapter you simply want to rehearse and make sure students really get it, without having to explain everything again.

Allow me to share three activities that do just that: make sure students are learning and making sure they are still motivated to learn despite rehearsing things.

Estimated time to read this article: 6 minutes

The problem at the end of the chapter

Recognize this?

  • Final paragraph done: check
  • Finished all of the important tasks of the chapter: check
  • One or two more lessons to rehearse things: check

Now what?

Those one or two rehearsal lessons allow for more freedom, but also require you to think about how to engage your students in a way they are still motivated.

All of them. Not just the ones that have questions.

I don't know about you, but I always find these lessons to be quite challenging because some students really understand the chapter and others, well, don't.

To make sure all students are still engaged and learning, I selected a few CLIL activities I think work really well in these situaties.

And obviously, I have tried them in my lessons as well!

Key Take Away

At the end of a chapter, you want to make sure all students are engaged: both the ones that understand and the ones that do not.

Three activities that work (at least in my lesson)

Okay, without further ado, let's have a look at the three activities I think work great:

1. Self created problems

This activity has many different names, but the most important part is:

You allow your students to create problems for each other. 

So, how does this work?

First, the student instruction

Student instruction

  • 1
    Choose a problem from the book
  • 2
    Change the numbers or create a variation on the problem
  • 3
    Write down the problem on a piece of paper and include your name
  • 4
    Write down both the calculation and the answer in your notebook
  • 5
    Hand-in the paper. You will receive a new one from me to do.
  • 6
    Answer the problem in your notebook.
  • 7
    Finished? Find the "creator" and check the answer. 

After the instruction, students started creating the problems for each other. Because the students had to answer the questions themselves first, they had to make sure they really understand the tasks.

How did they do?

Absolutely amazing!

I did not have to do anything for 15 minutes in a row, as I noticed students walking around, asking each other questions (in English), discussing answers they did not agree with and asking me for more problems.

Just an idea: you can ask students to create 2 problems. That gives you a little freedom when handing out new problems.

Possible follow-up

Other ways this activity can be implement can be:

  • Students create test questions of which you select one for the 'real' test
  • Provide scaffolding to help students create questions themselves
  • Hand-in the questions at the end of a lesson, so you have ready-to-use starter problems for the next lesson

2. Experts

Again, a CLIL activity you might already know, but works wonders (when used carefully). Whenever I used this activity, I can walk out of the room, knowing the students are working.

The main reason this activity works so well, is because students are responsible for the learning of others (much like my group leader system).

If they know others depend on them, and they can be asked to explain things, they are more motivated to work.

Just a quick note: make sure the students are numbered in a way the groups are not more than 5 people. Otherwise too many people might not do anything.

Also, I assume students are already in groups. If not, you have to start with groups they will go back to later one.

Student instruction

  • 1
    I am going to give everyone a number
  • 2
    After you heard your number, join the others with the same number
  • 3
    In your new group, discuss the problems of 1 topic/paragraph. You might want to do a few exercises to make sure you really understand. You will become the expert of this topic. 
  • 4
    When I tell you to, you go back to the original groups
  • 5
    Do the new task I provide. If something comes up that is related to your topic, other people in your group can ask you to help them out.

3. Crossword

Many different websites offer ways to turn phrases of words into puzzles, like

Using these tools, you can easily create puzzles students can use to rehearse topics from the chapter.

However, it gets even more interesting once students have to do this themselves for each other.

Student instruction

  • 1
    Think of a word between 5 and 10 letters, related to the current topic
  • 2
    For each letter of this word, think of a new word related to the topic that includes this letter.
  • 3
    For each of these words, think of a description.
  • 4
    Write down your descriptions and swap with your neighbour
  • 5
    Try to find the original word your neighbor started with

How did the students do?

This is an activity that could easily take 30 minutes if your students take it seriously. However, you do need to scaffold this activity carefully, for example by providing a framework to be filled in. 

I was amazed by the enthusiasm students worked on this activity, spending more time creating it than actually solving the other ones.

Possible Follow-ups

Some other ways this activity can be implemented:

  • Students do not share with their neighbor, but hand in the activity to you, so you can distribute it over the classes.
  • Change the limits for the words to either make the activity more difficult or easier

Key Take Away

These three activities are great to end your chapter with, because they require little preparation time and allow for personal learning growth for students:

1. Create a problem

2. Experts

3. Crossword

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