Brainbox games in class

10-minute speaking game. Language level B1+. I used it in my C1+ class.

This game is for native speakers of English aged 5-7+, but it’s kinda hard for young learners of English of the same age.

What I got out of it.

Reading and pronunciation practice and some listening and speaking skills.

Rules of the game.

The game is quite simple. A student gets a card and a dice. They have 10 seconds to memorise the pictures on the card. Then they roll a dice and get asked the corresponding question to the number on the dice.

What I did for my older players.

I found the game rather simple for my older students so I altered it a bit. My objective was to confirm the pronunciation of some diphthongs and silent letters and have them use their listening and speaking skills.

Steps

I gave the 1st player a card (the card has a letter and 4-5 words). They read the words aloud on that card and then they had 10 seconds to memorize the pictures associated with the letter on the card. The card is given to a student who reads the questions on the back of the card. The player has to answer the questions using whole sentences. The questions are easy, but the vocabulary words are challenging. For example, it had ‘knickers’ instead of ‘underpants’. Overall they enjoyed the game and I learnt what deficiencies they had in pronunciation of some diphthongs or problems in pronunciation of some words! No more than 15-20 minutes because it gets tiring.

Reflection

C1+ students playing a game made for young students.

The gameplay was very simple, so my participants enjoyed playing.

I liked how I made them read aloud the words to double-check for pronunciation features.

I made another student read the questions one by one and the participant had to answer all the questions so they can get used to answering easy questions in a meaningful way.

Positive feedback was given by my students as to the words they picked up from the activity and the fact some wrongly pronounced words were talked about and corrected.

Using #inclassflip in a hybrid teaching situation

So I was just thinking about this morning’s routine in which on a typical Monday morning I usually finish planning for my afternoon lessons; what I was truly thinking when I first sat down was, ‘is it really a typical Monday?’

This is the first week back after our Christmas break. For us in Greece, we are heading towards the peak of the Covid 19 variant Omicron and most people are concerned for the safety of their children and their own. State schools have opened today for students who are either vaccinated or have been self-tested and all wearing masks. For my school, we too ask for all students to have with them their self-test certificate or the vaccination certificate and of course, the compulsory use of masks. So I was wondering, with all this uneasiness going on for the next two weeks at least, can I really assume that I will not have an issue with colocation? What this means is that can I assume that I will have all my students in class at the same time or will I have some online on our school platform and a few face2face students too, in other words, a hybrid situation? And if so, how can I best plan for these types of situations?

For me, teaching is about having students who are actively involved in constructing their own knowledge. I assume that students come to class with their own knowledge of things and can learn to collaborate with others to make new connections on various topics. I also believe that a growth mindset plays a major role in successfully carrying out these types of teaching sessions and that students can learn to self-regulate and self-teach themselves and others. Also, I am a passionate supporter of Flipped Learning and when I can avoid direct instruction in class because I know that in this day and age, all students won’t be ready to take in what I want to teach them at that given moment.

Flipped learning presumes that direct instruction is done in the individual space or for homework before class and group space or class space is best used to actively apply and extend this new knowledge. Well, for Christmas, I don’t really give homework, because as I needed rest, I wanted my students to rest and take in quality family time. So, the best solution I thought of was the use of #Inclassflip approach which was first introduced to me by Martha Ramirez and Carolina Buitrago.

The Inclassflip approach is where direct instruction is incorporated into class time in different forms and then practice time is actively carried out in class. There are a number of ways you can try Inclass flip whether you use Station work with a sequence, loop, half-n-half stations or the choice of mixed stations or Non-station work as a Solo, Duo or Group ordering. However, you still need to think of the Essential questions or the big ideas you want students to know, understand and be able to do and how you would like them to prove what they have understood.

Given that I wanted to start a new module from the course book which has to do with students understanding environmental problems, environmental jobs and qualities and endangered species, I assume that students have been looking at this topic from a very young age and do know quite a lot about this topic already. So, I wanted them to brush up on their knowledge of environmental problems. Learn about types of jobs connected to the protection of the environment and learn about general vocabulary around work life.

To implement this, I chose the non-station layout of the Inclass flip in the form of solo, duo and group work which basically means instead of students moving around stations the stations will move around to them and they will work in pairs – duo, by themselves -duo or as small groups – group. I do keep a time limit for each task to help students stay focused on the task at hand. I have digitised access to the video from the coursebook and will use it as the flipped station work. The practice stations will include work from the coursebook, and it will also have group work in which each group will need to create some sort of product presenting an environmental problem they investigated. I do have an independent station on hand for early finishers which will include the use of the Quizziz app and vocabulary building skills work.

I designed a total of 7 tasks in solo, duo and group format which I will write and reflect about how it went in the my following post.

Song-based materials from TEFL-ers around the world!

Love using song-based lessons in my EFL classrooms! Check these out.

The TEFL Zone

The end of the school year is almost here! I don’t know about you but I’m really looking forward to it! This year has been quite challenging for both students and teachers!

Are you looking for interesting, no-prep activities for your last week of classes?

Why not use song-based lesson plans for a fun school year end? 🙂

1. These are the ones I created this semester, based on top trending songs. They include both language and skills practice.

2. Márcia Mars Bonfim has created 18 brilliant song-based lesson plans for B2 exam practice! You can find them all here:

https://songactivityfactory.com/2020/06/14/how-to-use-songs-to-teach-english-18-song-based-lesson-plans-for-cambridge-english-first-fce/

3. Cristina Cabal has also shared lots of song worksheets on her blog:

Blog de Cristina

4. Cool English, which is an amazing site, has created song clips you can use…

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First week of class and we created vision boards

End of the first teaching week for 2020 and it’s time to reflect for us teachers. We had a great first week welcoming back our students at our school. A lot was discussed and a lot of aims and goals were set.

Continue reading “First week of class and we created vision boards”

We have to make the art of writing more meaningful for them…

I had a really nice discussion yesterday with my C2 students who are sitting for their exams in two weeks. You know, the typical discussion teachers have with their graduates at the end of the year where we get to say to them how proud we are of their achievements in being proficient in the language and that they will be missed (which is true 100%!) and that even though our sessions together will stop, learning is never-ending and that they as pledged life long learners now, should continue to evolve as English language learners. At that stage, they normally agree with you about missing your lessons (so touching). Yet, express the fact that the time gained from not coming to English class will be time spent on other academic endeavours in high school and life.

As a teacher I suggest reading novels in English, going over the occasional newspaper online, always jump at chances to come into contact with the language whenever they can and finally, I always stress the importance of keeping their vocabulary notebooks alive by jotting down new words they encounter from anywhere and took a liking to. 

So what was different in yesterday’s session was that one of my students – Dimitra a lively bright young teenager turned around and said enthusiastically, “and no more boring essays to write – I’ve finished with writing those..”. Now that hurt. I suddenly realised that all that teaching, about proper writing, about important communicative achievement, organisation of thoughts, and using rich language was suddenly, for nothing. nought, zilch and zero. This student after eight years of lessons did not understand the beauty of expressing thoughts in writing and what perks it will offer you in your day to day life. What have I done, I have failed them.

And then it hit me. We have to make it more meaningful, relevant and purposeful for them. I’ve been hearing these buzz words a lot at seminars in the last few years and it has echoed in me for a while. So what can we do to make writing more meaningful and more real? Writing letters could work but the rate of snail mail isn’t that fast in a school year. What’s next…keeping it real. The only real and meaningful reasons to write nowadays is a blog! I guess we could start with a blog! I’m a blogger, I reflect (not that often though…this should change!) and hopefully, that would make it a lot more meaningful for our students. The only question is what kind of a blog and what kind of posts and information will it have? Should it be a class blog?  Should it be a school blog or should it be an open blog where any student can contribute to it by submitting any writing piece or even what is published controlled by student moderators? Maybe I should get the actual students to decide? Maybe we should involve them in the design of such a blog – project? Well, this is getting interesting now… I wonder where it will go from here…

Featured image by:

Nick Morrison

TRUTH OR DARE (EltCation)

I’m a sucker for new activities, especially for activities which are engaging for students but do have learner outcomes. Truth or Dare is another one of those activities I would like to try in my new classes for this school year. Truth or Dare was a game we played at teenage parties, so I do have fond memories of this activity. I like to repost articles which interest me because there are many I read but few that I end up trying. Experience has shown that If I repost the activity I do end up trying it in class and eventually reflecting upon it.

ELT-CATION

Truth, dare, double dare, love, kiss, promise…You may have played and enjoyed this game as a teen. I sure did.

I stumbled upon this version of Truth or Dare shared by from Yulia in her Discover English Teaching  group the other day, and I loved the idea of using it in the classroom.

I am sure this fun game will work really well with teens.

Yulia kindly agreed to share it here.

How to Play

🗣 The players are grouped together sitting or standing in a circle.

🗣 One player (or the teacher) at a time has a turn to ask another player the question ‘Truth or Dare?’

🗣 The player should choose between Truth or Dare. Choosing neither or both options is not allowed.

🗣 If they choose Truth, they will have to answer any question relating to their life, hobbies, habits, past or any other question. The player must answer the question honestly…

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