Sunday 2 June 2013

Trash or Treasure?

Here is my presentation from the MFL Show and Tell in York yesterday:

Trash or Treasure from Clare Seccombe

We're familiar now with Thinking Skills classification activities (examples here) where students are given a list of words or phrases which they then have to sort into categories.  They decide what the categories are going to be and what the category "headings" are.

Sometimes we choose to guide the sorting by giving students a Venn diagram into which to sort the words or phrases.  These have the added dimension of obliging students to think about the intersections.

Trash or Treasure originated in the National Literacy Strategy, and is used in EYFS and KS1 for Phonics and things like identifying sight words and nonsense words.  It's a quicker, pacier activity than classifying, enabling you to do many quick sorts rather than one big one.  Students are given a selection of words or phrases from which they find one category.  All the words from this category go in the Treasure, everything else is Trash.  Each subsequent sort will be quicker as the students become more familiar with the group of words that they have in front of them.  It's good to have words on the list which can go into more than one category.  An example of one I do, about Spanish dates, is here, and you can also download the "¿Tesoro o basura?" sheet from here.  

This activity can also be used to aid comprehension, by sorting relevant from irrelevant information, or for reading for information which answers a specific question.  It could be used to assess how well a piece of speaking or writing answers the question.

For kinesthetic learners or for a carousel activity, try filling a bin with scrumpled-up pieces of paper on which you have written the words or phrases for the sort.  Students unscrumple them and then write the words into the correct section of a Trash or Treasure sheet.  They can then be rescrumpled and put back in the bin for the next people.

The saying goes that "One man's trash is another man's treasure".  Can you think of a way of planning a Trash or Treasure activity so that students will each make a different sort, and will have to explain to a partner why they have sorted them in that way?


  1. Thanks for sharing this fab idea!

  2. Sounds like a great idea, never heard of this kind of activity before! Thank you for sharing, definitely going to give it a go :)