Each Monday is Crazy Convos Day in my classroom.
It's my favorite day of the week! We get to have fun conversations about weird and crazy topics and my students are super engaged because they never know what we're going to talk about!
Try it! You'll see!
Conversations are a great way to connect with students!
Conversations are real language and demonstrate both comprehension and production.
If we truly want to know a student’s proficiency level, we must evaluate production. I know that this is a sensitive topic, but just because a student can understand language, doesn’t mean they can produce language. But if they can produce language, they CAN comprehend it.
Why Crazy Convos?
Let’s face it. Keeping kids’ attention isn’t an easy thing nowadays. But random, absurd questions helps to keep kids on their toes. It allows for practice of REAL language and keeps the class interesting!
The best part is that no one knows what to expect! And it’s so much FUN!
How to Engage Students in Conversation
Choose a student at random and ask a question in the target language. You’ll want to write any new vocabulary on the board. As you ask your main question, you’ll want to ask follow-up questions. Follow-up questions are simply questions you would ask if you were talking to that person in the lunchroom.
It’s okay if the student answers with one-word answers or answers more complex questions in their native language. These things tell you that the students understood, but lack the vocabulary or confidence to answer in the target language. BUT, if they answer with more than one word or try to answer a complex question the the target language, even if they mess it up, CELEBRATE!!
Don’t correct grammar! Instead, rephrase it correctly like parents do. Otherwise, being corrected may raise the affective filter and cause stress for the students.
“Be a language parent not a language teacher.” — Haiyun Lu, Mandarin teacher
After you’ve asked your question and follow-up questions with the first student, ask other students a question related to the first student’s answers. For example, if the first student says he likes to play the guitar, then ask another student if they like to play the guitar, too. If not, then ask them what they do like to do. This keeps the language flowing in a natural way.
When the conversation naturally dies, move on to a new student with a new question.
Beyond Weekend Talk
Weekend talk can get old both for you and for the students. Often students say the same old things week after week.
Students often feel bad if their classmates do fun and interesting things and they did not.
And it can be really difficult to spice weekend talk up and keep it interesting as the weeks go by.
That’s where Crazy Convos comes in!
Make a list of random questions. I like to make a small deck of cards with a different question on each card.
Some of my favorite questions…
- What’s your favorite drink?
- What are you afraid of?
- If you had a hippo as a pet, what would you do?
- If you could be a superhero, who would you be?
- If you could be any animal, which would you be?
- Which movie monster scares you the most?
- If you could be any character from any book, which would you be?
- How many sloths can fit in your bedroom?
- Do you prefer mayonnaise or mustard?
- Do you like hamburgers or hotdogs better?
- Which would you rather not do, take a shower for a month or not brush your teeth for a month?
- If you could be a monster, what kind would you be?
Or just search Google. I’ve found a lot of them this way!
Other Conversation Topic Ideas
Another great way to crazify your conversations is with personal questions.
Personal questions are a fun way to get kids talking!
As you notice your students, find something about them you find interesting and talk about it. Are they wearing an interesting t-shirt? Do they have new shoes? Did they draw a cool drawing? Did they get a new haircut? You get the idea.
These are great because kids think they go unnoticed, but YOU noticed them.
It’s a very natural conversation that we actually have in real life and you can get as crazy as you’d like!
Any crazy things going on at school? They don’t have to be official! Ask kids about them! Dances, sporting events, positive gossip, etc. If you don’t know of any, just ask! Kids always know what’s going on!
You can ALWAYS find something crazy in the news!
Just search for crazy news stories and you have your lesson plan for the day.
Crazy Situations from Novels
Ask kids if there is any crazy scene in a novel they are reading during silent reading. Or take one from your current class novel.
Now ask your kids if anyone has done that or knows anyone who has. It’s perfectly OKAY for students to LIE! Let them make things up! What could be more fun?
Finding funny pictures is an awesome way to start a Crazy Convo!
Just do a Google image search and describe and talk about the picture.
There are TONS of possibilities!
So now you know! Crazy Convos are THE thing to get your kids talking!!
Let me know what crazy questions you've come up with in the comments.
And don't forget to download your copy of over 70 Crazy Convo Starters by clicking the button below.