Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lesson Plan: Quidditch Rules

"Very funny, Teacha!" was the typical assessment of this new lesson plan (and "funny", it should be noted, is Konglish for "fun, or enjoyable"). And if my goal is to hear students speaking English, which it is, then this lesson worked well.

I teach at an all-boys high school in Seoul. Two generalizations about my boys: 1) they love sports; and 2) they like the Harry Potter movies. Combine those two, and one thing emerges: a lesson on Quidditch, the sport played by wizards at Hogwarts School.

This is an information gap activity in two parts, enlivened by some videos. Class begins with a YouTube mash-up I found of flying scenes from the movies with Lenny Kravitz's "Fly Away":

Now that I have their attention, I can explain the first part of the drill: each team (or table) has a set of materials:


A and B cards each have half the rules of each category. Each list of rules has missing information--those blanks on the A card can only be filled in by information on B's card. The A and B pair sit across from each other, read their lists aloud and fill in the other's missing information. They practice until everyone knows the rules--well, the rules of their category.



Meanwhile, the co-teacher and I circulate, helping with vocabulary and quizzing them on their set of rules, to prepare them for the next phase. Before we move on, though, we watch a video that might help make things clearer for them; I put (not very good) titles on this scene from the first movie, where Oliver explains the rules to new Gryffindor Seeker Harry (or watch at

At this point, students should be well-familiar with a sub-set of the rules; I created seven sets of rules cards, incuding: the pitch, the balls, the players, the broomsticks, game progression, rules of play, and fouls. I decided not to use Fouls with my students, as there are a lot of made-up words, and I don't see any up-side to confusing them: Quaffle, Bludger and Golden Snitch are quite enough.

Now a pair of students will share their rules with other pairs of students. "A" students will go first, receiving a worksheet with six categories of questions, as seen below:


My powerpoint for the lesson has a rotation diagram to move the "A" boys from table to table. They ask their questions and write down the answers they are given by the "experts" in the sub-topic. A timer goes off (100 seconds, for my guys) and they rotate to the next rule category. Watching the classroom clock, I have them do four or maybe five rotations.



Then the "B" guys get a question sheet and the process is repeated. As I said, this lesson worked quite well; one class had trouble with their behavior during the "rotation" sequences, acting like hooligans, but even they spent a lot of time actually speaking English!

This lesson preparation was extensive: first, I found the rules of Quidditch at a Harry Potter Wiki site (, though this page has changed since then); then I had to select and simplify the rules, eliminating as much lingo as possible; divide the rules evenly between A and B; provide "information gaps" to be filled by the other card; create two sets of question worksheets, with three questions on each rule category.

I made the cards and rules topic signs to look as polished as possible and printed them off in color (a moderate to-do at my school) and since I had gone to that much trouble, had them laminated. Now I had to work out the logistics and procedures, and voila, many hours later, another lesson for the files!

While I did this lesson with my second graders (high school juniors), it would also work with the first graders at my school. A great deal more simplification and selection could make this doable at the upper middle school level--and I think it would be worthwhile.

Sometimes a great lesson plan is an idea, a handful of words and a great motivation. Sometimes, it is a well-put-together powerpoint or a couple of songs and a piece of paper. Other times, though, it is a meticulously prepared set of materials, specialized technological resources and an exactingly executed implementation plan.

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