Blog | English Language Learning | Centre For Excellence

Classroom Web

Last spring, the Network hosted a Literacy Learning Simulation facilitated by Shelley McConnell. In the workshop, Shelley introduced us to the Classroom Web, an activity that is suitable for the first days of an ESL literacy class. It's a "hands on" version of the Getting to Know You activity that Jennifer shared last week.

Here are the directions:

Materials: a ball of string, chairs for everyone in the class



  1. Before the activity, move the tables to the side of the room and arrange the chairs in a circle.
  2. Have everyone sit facing each other in the circle. 
  3. The instructor takes out the ball of string and wraps the end around her finger. She explains that when she holds the ball of string, she says, "My name is....I am from....." You can add another sentence depending on the learners' language level.
  4. The instructor then throws the ball to a learner across the circle, creating a line of string connecting her to that person.
  5. The learner then wraps the string around her finger and shares her name and where she is from.
  6. The learner then throws the ball to someone across the circle from her, creating another line of string connecting her to the next person.
  7. Repeat steps five and six until all learners have spoken and a “web” is created connecting all the learners to each other.
  8. The last learner then throws the ball back to the instructor, completing the web.
  9. The second half of the activity involves unraveling the web, one line at a time. To do this, the person holding the ball, must remember the name of the person who spoke before her. The instructor can model introducing this learner to the others with a phrase like, “This is Mary. She is from Sudan”. After she gives this information, she removes the string from her finger and throws the ball to the learner she is connected to. That learner then rolls up the excess string, unravels the string from her finger and introduces the person she is connected to. 
  10. Step 9 is repeated until the web is gone.

What are the benefits of doing this type of activity at the beginning of an ESL literacy class?

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