Once you have got the hang of this activity, this revision strategy is a quick and easy one to use in the classroom. It prompts students to retrieve vocabulary and justify their choices, to talk meaningfully with their partner and to the class, and to think on their feet.
Step 1: set up
Direct students to work in pairs. Each pair draws a table on scrap paper. The number of columns depends on how quickly you would like the activity to run, but I would recommend that the minimum number of columns is 5 and the maximum is 7.
Give students headings for the columns. The first heading is always “letter”, and the remaining headings could be names of characters, themes, or poems, depending on the topic you are revising.
Step 2: model how to play
Use your preferred method of modelling – whiteboard and pen, visualiser, graphics tablet. Choose your first letter and write it in the first column. Then you need to complete the row with words starting with that letter, and relating to the headings. You can introduce a number of “house rules”, such as no proper nouns or no repetition (including of different forms of the same word). When the row is complete, you say “stop the bus”.
Step 3: game on!
Give the class a letter. They work in their teams to complete their row with words starting with that letter. The first team to say “stop the bus” can present their ideas to the class. They need to list their word choices, and then justify each one. You may want to specify that teams must use a quotation as part of their justification.
Other teams are allowed to challenge – but insist that they put their hands up to do this, rather than shouting out (otherwise the game can get quite heated!). If the team’s words are acceptable, give them a point. If they aren’t acceptable, everyone is back in and the class keeps going until another team says “stop the bus”.
This task is a great one to get a quiet class talking and to prompt them to retrieve vocabulary. Make sure you explain and maintain your ground rules: no shouting out, silence when when a team says “stop the bus”, challenge by putting hands up.
If you have a large class, you will need to keep an eye out for the first team to stop the bus – you won’t want any arguments!
Remember to keep the focus on the vocabulary and the quality of students’ explanations. For example, you might want to ask probing questions to prompt students to develop their responses in detail. If another team challenges a word, then insist that they articulate their argument in full and with supporting evidence.