Running Dictation

A core group of my colleagues and I have been on a mission to find as many uses for sticky notes in teaching as we can. This link came up on my twitter feed last night courtesy of retweets but ultimately from @TeachingEnglish. I have waxed lyrical about the power of twitter before and last night did not let me down.

My year 7 English class are in a writing kind of mood at the moment. They even redraft their work … YES!! I said … redraft.

I get comments like “Miss, can you just check this to see if it makes sense but remember it’s only my first draft”. One of my students even got her Mum and older sister to help her with her first draft so that I only had to read the second draft (she showed me the first draft).

When I followed the link and read 15 ways to use ‘post-it notes’ to teach English  I knew I had found the physical activity I needed to break up our double lesson … #4) running dictation.

Image0505Image0506I asked the students to pair up (12 pairs and a trio today). I had prepared the sticky notes with text from the first chapter of the first book of Harry Potter, with 20-ish words on each sticky note.

Then the race was on!

I gave them 15 minutes to collect (read, remember, retell and write) as many of the quotes as possible. They took turns to be the writer and reader.

A group of year 11s were quite bemused watching the year 7s run happily back and forth across the learning space trying to remember as much of each quote as possible and writing like their lives depended on it.

It was fun, frenetic and something all of them could do regardless of ability. Even my Aspergers’ got into this, despite the chaos in the room … and were the first to recognise the source of the text 🙂

At the end of the session we talked about the skills we had used … reading, memory, grammar, punctuation, spelling, speaking clearly, team work. I told them that normally I do this as straight dictation as a listening skill … we decided that we like Running Dictation much better.


Any other great ideas for sticky note activities????


Posted on November 7, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I love the idea of a running dictation! And I am going to practise it with my students.
    I have used notes for a speaking activity, the so-called ‘Broken telephone’, when a students reads the text, then tells the second student the story, he then passes it to the third, etc. The students take turns to whisper their stories so only one student can hear them. The last student tells the story to the class. It is fun! But it might be too easy for native speakers.
    I also use online sticky boards like or to practise grammar, for example, future tenses. I put ‘intention’, ‘on the spot decision’, ‘prediction based on evidence’ stickers on the virtual board and get students write their examples.

  2. Actually I think ‘Broken Telephone” sounds like another good idea … for EFL or native speakers … I would just make the degree of difficulty with the text harder. I’m already thinking about how I could use this idea with my Yr 7s.

    I have used padlet with staff and students, and think it is great … another site you might be interested in is . You type a question and students (readers) post an answer and it builds a word wall.

  1. Pingback: Post it! | diggers27

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