While taking advantage of Ellis’ after-church nap to catch up on the blogs that I follow, I read this post from Cynthia Hitz (@sonrisadelcampo). While Cynthia originally used the activity to recall a story that she co-created with her language students, you can use it to collaboratively recall any content with students in any subject area.
Cynthia didn’t name the activity, so I will:
Ping Pong Recall
Clarification: I originally named this activity ‘Back at’cha’, but the spelling made it nearly impossible for teachers to find this post when searching for it on the blog. The new name is Ping Pong!
How to play Ping Pong Recall
Ping Pong Recall gives students an opportunity to get up on their feet and that it is a team ‘game’ but still low-anxiety. Here’s how to play:
Setting up Ping Pong Recall
Explain the objective: Say as many sentences (statements, facts) as you can about a story or a topic. For example, “Facts about frogs”, “Things that happened in the story”, “Synonyms for ‘beautiful’.
Split into teams: Divide your class into at least two teams or as many as four.
Stand up!: Have all students stand up, grouped with their teams.
Give them a reason to play: Each team will be trying to recall the greatest number of facts or statements. Tell your students that the first team to get ‘stuck’ and not be able to recall any new facts or statements will have to remain standing for five additional minutes once the game ends. Think of it like a Spelling Bee: the last team standing wins!
Playing Ping Pong Recall
Pick one team to go first– possibly by pulling a name from your Chiles bag, and letting that student’s team start.
One member of the team shares a fact, event, or statement about the topic or story– any team member, any fact.
Confirm that the fact or statement is true. If you’re playing in a language class, repeat the statement using accurate language. The purpose of the recast is further exposure to the language, not because it has any significant impact on students’ ability to produce accurate language moving forward.
Now, call on the next team! Give them an opportunity to share a fact, event, or statement about the story or topic. Any team member can share it, and they can share any fact or statement that has not previously been shared.
Continue until teams run out of things to say! The first team to get ‘stuck’ has to stay standing for five minutes. Everyone else can sit down! If you are playing with more than two teams,
Ideas for scorekeeping
If you want to up the ante a little bit, you could turn Ping Pong into a more formal game by awarding/subtracting points. Award points as follows:
- Two (2) points for each NEW fact or statement that is said by a team member that has NOT already contributed
- One (1) points for each NEW fact or statement that is said by a team member that HAS ALREADY contributed.
Retelling a story
When using this activity to recall a story, you could incentivize students for sharing events of the story in the order that they happened. After the first team shares an event, the next team can get an additional point if it happens after the first one. As long as each event shared follows the most recent event shared, give a bonus point. When a team has to go ‘back in time’ to retell an event out of order, no bonus point is awarded and the chronological clock resets. The next team can once again have the chance to get a bonus point by saying an event that follows the last one shared!
As an aside, Bob Lenz was the guest speaker at our church today, and this was maybe the third or fourth time that I heard him speak. He speaks at many schools about bullying, self-harm, substance abuse, and more, and I would highly recommend bringing him to YOUR school. He is hilarious and his message is powerful. (Bob has secular presentations in additions to the ones that he does for churches and youth groups.) He spoke at several schools in the Anchorage School District last year for school-wide assemblies. Check him out!