Review by Way of Ordering

One way to review is by putting things in order – whether it’s sequential, by likelihood, or other – since it requires students to compare things see how they relate to one another, which means they’ll need a solid understanding of the topics.

There are a lot of options for putting vocabulary in order, especially for nouns and adjectives. You can order biggest to smallest, hot to cold, energetic to somber, young to old, common to rare, or any number of other ways depending on the collection of words. We’re sure you can figure out some good ways to do those on your own. This post is mostly about ordering grammar topics.

You or your students can write these things in order on a whiteboard, but we’re in favor of the teacher writing each idea on a notecard, and providing a set of notecards to each group of students (perhaps 2-5 students in a group). Students should then shift the cards around on their table until they are in the correct order.

MODALS OF PERMISSION/OBLIGATION

If given instructions or permission to do something, how likely will the average listener (assuming they’re not particularly rebellious) do that thing? ‘Probably Not’ on the left to ‘Probably’ on the right.

MUST NOT → CANNOT → DON’T HAVE TO → CAN → HAVE TO → MUST

FUTURE FORMS

Place various ways to express the future tense in order of certainty.

MIGHT/COULD → BE GOING TO → PRESENT PROG. → PRESENT SIMPLE

QUESTION FORMS

For inquiries, order by how certain the asker is of the answer. ‘Not a clue’ on the left and ‘I believe this is true’ on the right.

‘WH’ QUESTIONS → CHOICE QUESTIONS → YES/NO QUESTIONS → TAG↑QUESTIONS → ECHO QUESTIONS → NEGATIVE QUESTIONS → TAG↓QUESTIONS

For requests, place polite on the left and forceful on the right.

INDIRECT ?s → YES/NO ?s with MODALS → TAG ?s → NEGATIVE ?s

There are more topics you could do, like sorting tenses by chronological order, or putting quantitative determiners (none, a, a few, some, etc.) in order from least to most. You can write out the topics like I have here, or write out examples instead. Whichever you provide, you should ask your students to provide the other once they’ve finished putting everything in order.

By the way, order is sometimes debatable depending on context. (You might even question how I’ve ordered things in this post, and that’s fine!) If your students can explain why they put things in the order they did, that might be better than matching whatever order you have in mind. Getting students to think about these things is the whole point!

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