The Supporting Act- A Beautiful Lesson to Work with -Ed/-Ing Adjectives

I’m currently in the middle of —what I like to call—beginning-of-the-course chaos. I am busy doing nothing, wasting time on probably unnecessary things and when the day ends, I find I have done nothing from the to-do list I carefully planned in the morning. Total chaos.

Today, I have a guest post from a colleague from EOI Oviedo, Ángeles Jimenez,  who from time to time, saves my a** by agreeing to send me some of her creative activities. This is one of them. I hope you like it as much as I did.

This lesson plan is based on a two-minute short film launched by the B.B.C on Christmas 2017. It’s suitable for intermediate and higher levels.

The lesson starts with a lead-in speaking activity to help students differentiate -ed from -ing adjectives. It’s then followed by a brainstorming activity where students get a lot of talking time.

-ed / -ing adjectives can be a challenging task to teach as students mix them up easily. Sometimes such confusion can lead to amusing mistakes such as “I’m boring” or “I’m tiring” when they truly mean “I’m bored” and “I’m tired”.

STEP 1

To clear up the confusion, I start with a warm-up activity. I write, on the whiteboard, 3 or 4  -ing adjectives and tell students they will need to come up with a wide range of things, activities and/or people that can fit in each category. “Boring”, “Exciting”, “Frightening” and “Disgusting” are some of the -ing adjectives that work well.

For example, if I write the adjective ” Boring” students might say: studying for exams, politics, queuing at the supermarket…etc. 

This is an engaging warm-up as students can personalise the grammar point you’re trying to teach.

I  begin with myself writing the word “moths” in the “frightening” column. They may not be familiar with the noun but students love it when the teacher includes anecdotes and personal examples. They get involved in the activity in no time!

Once the whiteboard is full of the students’ own ideas, I then follow with a “How do you feel” question to elicit the -ed adjective.

Example: “How do I feel about moths? I feel frightened”

and I write the word “frightened” on the board with capital letters underlying the -ed part to emphasize that’s how I feel. To make sure they’ve understood the difference, I go through the adjectives on the board asking the same question: “How do you feel about studying for exams?” To round up, a simple graphic is very helpful:

                  Something ING  ⇒  makes you feel ED

Step 2

I project the frame above from the silent advert because it’s open to interpretation, it offers a lot of speaking practice and I find it’s a great way to revise the use of narrative tenses, especially for intermediate levels. I ask my students to come up with a short story that can explain what is happening/happened, what the girl is/was doing, how she is feeling and what they think is going to happen at the end.

At a more advanced level, they can even make deductions. Elicit some examples such as “It’s late. She must be worried because her parents haven’t arrived home yet”

Also, make sure they use as many adjectives related to feelings as they can.

STEP 3: 

  1. Play the video.
  2. Speaking: Ask students to compare it with the stories they created. Ask some follow-up questions: Did they like it? Did they find it touching? Can they relate?
  3. Vocabulary and speaking.  Pdf here. Give the students the handout that accompanies the video activity. It includes an exercise to learn new vocabulary, another exercise to revise -ed / -ing adjectives and last, but not least, a more ludic and relaxing one to test how good their memory is. You can see the first two exercises below:

Vocabulary exercise. Summarising the story. Choose the most appropriate word from the drop-down menu

Oral exercise. Using adjectives -ed adjectives to talk about feelings. Ask the following questions and encourage students to use -ed adjectives

  1. Watch the T.V add and talk about how the girl felt…
  • when she came out of school. Ex: excited
  • when she gave her dad the talent show leaflet.
  • when her dad answered the call.
  • when she rehearsed at home, in the street…
  1. How did her dad feel when he saw her jumping on the escalators?
  2. Why did she slam the door?
  3. How did she feel when she …
  • drew the curtains?
  • couldn’t remember the dance?
  • when her dad came out of the audience to help?
  • the dance finished?

Silent movies have a great potential for language teaching. They’re a fantastic tool to get students to produce language at any level since it’s the task the teacher sets the one that provides the level. They usually find it easier to memorise vocabulary and grammar when it’s associated with a captivating image or story and when it comes to holding their attention, a short clip does the trick.

Thank you Ángeles, a beautiful activity.

3 Useful YouTube Tricks, a Video Listening+Speaking Activity. A Flipgrid Proposal.

Unit 1 of my textbook is dedicated to questions. All sorts of questions: indirect, with prepositions at the end, negative interrogative questions, echo questions, question tags… etc. Yeah, I know. Lots of teaching here. On the bright side, teaching questions offers such a variety of activities you can do with your students that sometimes it is hard to find the time to do all the amazing stuff published all around the web.


This year, for my first lessons dealing with questions, I have decided to choose one of the hundreds of interviews to celebrities available online. It is still the beginning of the course and I wanted something quick and not too difficult to understand. And, I found this interview with Selena Gomez who, to be honest with you, I didn’t know much about just perfect as it is all about questions and, more specifically, get-to-know-you questions.
Anyway, I wanted a short simple listening exercise and I wanted to post it on the blog so that my students could do it again at home. To do the whole activity, I needed to solve a few technical issues regarding YouTube which I’ll detail below, in case you find them helpful.

YOUTUBE VIDEOS: SOME TRICKS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW
  • Sharing a youtube video with a specific start time

You probably know how to share a video starting at a specific point. You don’t? Well, that’ s pretty easy to do.

  • Sharing a youtube video with a specific start and end time

That’s a bit more complicated. Keywords “ a bit”. The first thing you need to know is the specific time you want your video to start and to finish. For example, if you need your video to run from 1:20 to 2:15, you need to convert it into seconds.

1:20 -1 minute= 60 seconds+ 20= 80 seconds (start time)

2:15- 2 minutes= 120 seconds+15 = 135 seconds (finish time)

Now, grab the embed code for the video. In my case, it was

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/_GFkHA5EZdE?start=1″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”autoplay; encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>

Change the start time and instead of 1, write 80 and then add &amp;end=135

The resulting embed code is

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/_GFkHA5EZdE?start=80&amp;end=135 ” frameborder=”0″ allow=”autoplay; encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>

  • Getting the transcript. Call me lazy but if technology can save me some time….

You can easily get the transcript from a youtube video clicking on the three dots next to the save button.

VIDEO-BASED LISTENING ACTIVITY:  18/73 QUESTIONS WITH SELENA GOMEZ

(Follow -up activity:  I am looking for  one or two EOI teachers, teaching the B2.2 level, to work with me on a  simple single get-to-know-you project using the free online tool Flipgrid. If anybody is interested, please send me an email)

  • Level: B2
  • Skills: listening and speaking

As I have mentioned above, I wanted a short listening activity which could serve as a springboard for a speaking get-to-know-you activity among my students.

LISTENING COMPREHENSION

Procedure:

  • Play the video once and ask students to just listen. At the end of the video (the video is set to stop at 2:08) students will probably complain that it goes too fast. My advice? Smile and say “You can do it! “, because they actually can.
  • Give them the handout with the questions and play the video twice more.
  • Before you play it a third time, ask students to share their answers in pairs and, needless to say,  in English.
  • Play the video once more, pausing after each answer. Ask students to provide the answer and repeat procedure for question 2.

Here are the questions. To get the answers, just display the transcript as indicated above.

SPEAKING  ACTIVITY:  15 minutes
  • Play the video again, this time and depending on the number of students, play a couple more minutes or if necessary the whole video.
  • Tell students, they will need to listen very attentively to the questions asked to Selena and choose one they would like to ask their classmates.
  • Ask them to write it down and check with you that it’s Ok.  When they are ready, ask them to stand up in a mingling activity and interview as many classmates as possible.

A Game of Cards to Revise Vocabulary in a Speaking Activity. Effective, Engaging and No-Prep.

I have always liked playing cards.  Like about 20 years ago, I used to meet with some friends at the weekend to play cards. We usually met at a cosy old cafe where most of the elderly in my village met to play cards and domino with their buddies. They were old, we were in our twenties. They wanted peace and quiet. We wanted fun and noise and laughs.

It didn’t last. Somehow, we realized we were not welcomed and eventually stopped going. But, I still like playing cards and whenever I can talk some of my friends into playing, I immensely enjoy it. Let’s play cards, then!

  • Aim: to revise vocabulary in a speaking exercise
  • Level: B1 upwards
  • Topic: any

THE  GAME OF CARDS

The game is SO simple. The only prep is to make sure you have enough pieces of paper cut up in advance. By the way, a good opportunity to reuse photocopy paper that has been used only on one side.

Preparation:

Take a regular A4 sheet of paper. You want to obtain 8 pieces of paper. Fold it in half and cut it along the crease. Fold the two pieces again and repeat procedure. Do it a third time and there you have your 8 pieces of paper resembling the size of an average size of a card in a deck of cards.

 

  • Ask students to sit in groups of three in a circle around a table.
  • Write the topic you want to revise on the board. For example, Education.
  • Give each student in the group 8 blank cards and tell them they will need to write on each card a word or expression related to the topic on the board. Explain that it does not matter if the words are repeated in the same deck of cards, in fact, if they get the same words twice, it will only help consolidate meaning and use. Challenge students to write newly-acquired vocabulary. Allow them to have a look at their notes.
The game:
  1. Ask a student in the group to take all the cards, shuffle them and deal 3 cards one at a time, face down, starting with the student to the dealer’s left.
  2. Place the rest of the cards face down on a pile in the centre of the table.
  3. Write on the board or call out a question for discussion. For example,                                            Are exams necessary or are they a waste of time? 
  4.  Tell students they will all need to talk about the question in their groups trying to use the words on their cards.  As they use them, they place them face up on the table and pick up another one from the pile. They always need to have three to choose from.
  5. Allow 5-6 minutes per question. Once the time is up, ask students to count how many words they have used.
  6. Repeat all the steps and write another question for discussion on the board.

Note:

  • Every two or three questions, you can ask groups to swap cards and repeat steps 1-5. By swapping cards students get a new batch of cards with hopefully some new words to use.

Using an Interactive Image to Play a Game to Revise and Consolidate Feeling Adjectives

Autumn is probably my favourite season. Autumn is the season of birthdays in my family. Also, it’s not too hot or too cold. This year, this is especially important for me as I have been assigned a small class facing south and I know, come May,  I’ll be sweating up a storm. So, for the time being, let’s enjoy beautiful autumn.

This year I am teaching 2-hour lessons so, more than ever, I feel the necessity to design activities that might change the pace of the lessons and keep my students from dozing off in my classes. The activity below is aimed at that. Still, I need to be completely honest here. I have not started teaching proper lessons so this activity has not been tested yet.  I’ll let you know how it goes and if I hear any snores or see people yawning, then I would know it has been a complete failure.

 

Aim:

  • to revise and consolidate adjectives related to feelings
  • to use these adjectives in a speaking activity.

Tool: Genial.ly. For this activity, we will use the grid below with gifs representing different feelings. This is an interactive image created with an awesome tool called Genial.ly, which I am proud to say is a Spanish start-up used all around the world. Genial.ly lets you create engaging interactive visual content and for this activity, I have used the “Hide” effect so if you mouse over the gif, you’ll be able to see the adjective. Also, the questions for discussion will be displayed when you click on the numbers.

(click on the arrows to enlarge the image)

 

Procedure

For each of the squares in the grid, do part 1 and then part 2.

FIRST PART: WORKING ON VOCABULARY

  • Ask students to work in pairs. Student A will be playing “against” Student B.
  • Ask student As to choose a number from the Feelings Grid below. You can ask all the As to agree on a number, but in some classes, it might prove a difficult task to reach quick consensus, so you might want to just choose a random student A to decide on a number.
  • Once they have chosen a number, both student A and B will write the adjective they think is hidden behind the gif representing the feeling. Allow 30 seconds for this step. Let student A and B compare their answers and then mouse over the gif to display the hidden adjective.
  • If they have guessed the adjective, they score 2 points. If the adjective they have written is a synonym, they score 1 point. Ask students to keep score of the points they get.
  • On the board, you might want to write the target adjective and the synonyms they come up with. Drill pronunciation of the adjective and all its synonyms.

For example, if they choose Gif  9 and the adjective is worried you might want to accept “anxious, troubled or concerned” as synonyms. You can use a synonym dictionary, like this one https://www.thesaurus.com/. There is no shame in this. 😉

SECOND PART: WORKING ON SPEAKING

  • Click on the number, in this case, number 9 and a question will be displayed. Ask students in pairs to discuss the question. Set about 4 minutes per question. Walk around. Monitor and help. Avoid overcorrecting.

Now, B’s choose a new number from the Feelings Grid.

Note: if you haven’t taught any of the adjectives, you can still use the activity.  Change the rules of the game and instead of scoring two points if they guessed the adjective, you might want to give them the points if they come up with a synonym even though it’s not exactly the one hidden behind the gif.

To be on the safe side, and to avoid wasting time checking the dictionary, you might want to write a list of synonyms before you play the game.

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook

 

Please, Come In! 3 Activities to Start Off the Course on the Right Foot

Ahh almost October! How are we here already?

I can’t even wrap my head around the idea that this is going to be my 27th year teaching English. Time, please stand still! OMG, It makes me cringe to even think about it! Ugh. But, here we are.This is life.

I know, I know. Most of you have already started classes in late August or early  September, but here in the EOI in Asturias, we dedicate the whole month of September to assessing written and oral exams. Nothing to envy here, trust me!

Anyway, a new school year, new students, a fresh start, a clean slate. I feel like in these 27 years I have tried all the different get-to-know-you activities that have been used all around the world, so this year I’m going to recycle and tweak some of my favourite activities,  changing the context to fit the mood.

So, the plan for the first day is the one below. An interactive game to revise grammar and vocabulary from the previous year (lots of fun, but also lots of learning) and not one, but 2 highly engaging speaking activities that can be considered, if you wish, get-to-know-each-other activities but that can be easily adapted to any context.

Activity 1. A Kahoot to revise

We will start the course playing a Kahoot to revise some of the content studied in the previous course. Always fun and to be honest, I am going to be recycling the one I did last year. That’s one of the things I like about technology, it’s paperless, recyclable and “findable”( meaning, easy to find,  yes, I know, I have just invented the word)

If you ask students to play in pairs or in threes, you’ll just need a device for each group. I like playing Kahoots in groups. It enhances learning as students will need to discuss the right answer and it’s more engaging and therefore much more fun.

This is the link in case you want to use my Kahoot. Here

 

Activity 2.  Welcome post-it notes

(I know! It looks home-made, but this is because it is)

  • On one wall of the class, I have displayed the word “Welcome” formed using Post-it notes, as in the picture.
  • On the back of each post-it note, I have written a question that will help students and teachers get to know each other.
  • I have asked students to stand up and pick a post-it note containing a question.
  • I have asked students to remain standing, pair up with another student and ask each other the questions on their post-it notes.
  • I have allowed them about 4 minutes to ask and answer their questions before asking them to find a new partner.
  • I have also participated in this mingle activity. After all, I also want them to know me and it gives me a good chance to assess their English.
  • Please, refrain from overcorrecting or even correcting. It’s their first day.

Can’t think of questions to ask? This site has you covered. bit.ly/2zqxcJP

Idea for the post inspired by Post-it.com

Activity 3. Yes, I have, I have never

This activity is just so much fun.  What do we need? We need slips of paper, as many as students in the class. I normally fold a regular sheet of paper in half, lengthwise, and get two slips of paper.

  • I ask students to write on one side I HAVE and, on the other side, I HAVE NEVER. Ask them to write the words big enough to see from a distance.
  • Tell students you are going to ask them questions and they should display their slip of paper with their answer to the question.

For example. Imagine that I ask  Have you ever failed an English exam?

In the picture below, you can see Julio, the German teacher, and me exemplifying the possible answers (sorry, as I said, classes have not started yet and I had to bribe a colleague).

  • Choose one or two students to elaborate on their answer and then ask another question and repeat procedure.
  • To add to the fun, and because it’s also important that students get to know you,  you should also have a slip of paper and once or twice give some details about you.

Note: Make sure you ask randomly I have and I have never answers, otherwise some students might never display the I have option.

Possible questions:

  • Have you ever been on TV?
  • Have you ever won a contest a received a prize?
  • Have you ever been stuck in a lift?
  • Have you ever got in trouble at school?
  • have you ever helped someone who was in danger?

Get more questions here and here  

Hope you have liked my first post! If you do not want to miss any of my posts, you might  want to follow Blog de Cristina on Facebook and on Twitter.

Great to be back!!! I’ve missed you!

Back in October! + Most Popular Posts This School Year (2017-2018)

Dear all, hi! I feel like I’ve been gone for forever but exams have kept me mad busy and I haven’t had time a single moment to post something worthy.

And again, it is this time of the year when I take a break from classes and the blog. To be honest, most of the times when it’s June I begin to experience telltale signs of burnout. Not this year. I am full of energy and my brain is busy with ideas to try in the next school year. However, it wouldn’t be fair and it’s not my style to blog about things I haven’t tried first, so let’s take our usual break.

Since I wasn’t able to post while I was marking exams, all these ideas have found their place in a draft folder in my hard drive. I’ve got like a ton of ideas that are going to come at you very quickly after the summer break. Keep tuned!

Please, do come back at the end of the summer. Your comments and feedback are essential to me.

Meanwhile, I will still be active on Twitter @blogdecristina where I’ll be reposting ideas and activities and retweeting interesting stuff. So, if you have a Twitter account, do follow me. I will also be leading some workshops here and there, so if you are a reader of this blog,  don’t be shy and come and say hello. I will be happy to meet you.

See you very soon! I’ll miss you!

Below you’ll find some of my favourite posts this year.

A QR Code Coursebook Quest Using Flipgrid: Using Technology in the Classes

Ohh this activity. I love it.

It combines a bit of everything and adds the touch of innovation students require in 21st-century classes.

  • it helps students revise content in an engaging way
  • it helps boost their speaking skills
  • it improves their writing abilities
  • it gives them confidence using new technologies
  • it promotes teamwork.

Now, this is an end-of-the-course activity and before you continue reading you need to know a couple of things.

  1. My students have already used Flipgrid in class. (if you have never used Flipgrid, you are missing out! I highly recommend it to make even the shyest students talk)
  2. My students have already used a QR Code reader and have the app on their mobiles.
  3.  Finally, you’ll have some prep work to do, but it is an end-of-the-course activity, so let’s do it! I promise it’s worth it. Then, we can rest and sunbathe a bit.

The activity is divided into two stages

STAGE ONE. Day 1.

Before the class:

  • On Flipgrid, create a topic outlining the activity and asking students to record themselves asking a question about the vocabulary studied during the course. It can be anything that has been studied during the course. In my case,  I have asked them to make their question about phrasal verbs or idioms. The only rule is that the answer to their question must be found in the course book.  Remind them that this is a competition, so they do not want to ask easy questions. Ask them to record themselves asking their question using Flipgrid and tell them they have 15-seconds recording time.

Example: Can you find a phrasal verb with the meaning of “to cancel”?

  • Once you have created a topic on Flipgrid for Team A, as in the example below, duplicate the topic and just change the Topic Title by writing Team B instead of Team A. You might also want to modify the image accompanying the Topic. (not necessary, of course)

 

In class:

  • Divide the class into two teams; three if you have a lot of students. Ideally, a team would have 6-8 students and the same number of students in each team. If you don’t, just ask a student to record himself twice, asking two different questions so that both teams have the same number of questions.
  • Share the Flip Code to their respective topics and ask them to record their questions for the other team. Each student in the team has to record a different question. So, if you have 6 students per team, you’ll have 6 questions. This can easily be done in class or set as homework.
  • Explain the rules:
  • They can ask a question about … (whatever you have specified).
  • The answer to their question must be found in the course book.
  • They have to speak slowly and clearly.
  • They have 15-seconds recording time.
  • When they finish, they will need to send you an email with the answer to their question.
Stage 2. Day 2

Before the class:

  • Once all the students in the team have recorded their questions for the other team, print the QR Code for each of their questions and hang them up on one of the walls of the class. Give each QR code a number, ie, if there are 6 QR Codes containing 6 questions, give numbers from 1 to 6.  On your response sheet, write down the answers matching the different  QR codes. For example 1. take off 2. put up 3…  Do the same for the other team, but hang up their  QR Codes on the wall opposite.

 

In class:

  • Ask students to sit with their teams.
  • Explain how to play:
  • Show both teams their respective walls. Assign Team A the wall where the QR Codes with Team B’s questions are displayed. Do the same for Team B.
  • Only one mobile phone per team is necessary and only one can be used. Teams name a runner who scans the QR code and gets back to his team who try to find the answer in the course book to the question posed. The first QR Code to be scanned must be number 1.
  • Once they have found the answer in the book, the runner must go to the teacher and show it to him. If it is incorrect, he must go back to his team and try again. If it’s correct, the runner goes back to his team and, using the target vocabulary, write a  sentence. Again, the runner runs to the teacher and shows him the sentence. If there are no mistakes, he can scan the second QR Code. If there are mistakes, the teacher will underline the mistake(s) and then, the runner will return to his team, correct the sentence and show it again to the teacher. Only when everything is Ok, can the runner scan the second QR code.
  • The winner is the team who first answers all the questions and uses the target vocabulary in sentences of their own.

If you want to know more about how to integrate free digital tools in the classroom, you might want to have a look at my workshops. Here and here. 

Thanks for reading!

8 Google Chrome Extensions you “Add”solutely Need to Use if you are a Teacher

I have been struggling with the title of this post. I wanted to write it in capital letters and tried different angles, all with the same purpose, trying to entice you into reading it as I know for certain that, for some teachers out there, add-ons ( also known as extensions) are still unknown.

 

 

 

Introduction

Working as a “free app” teacher trainer has taught me quite a lot of things. I have seen that, contrary to my initial belief, most teachers are not afraid of introducing technology in their classes, they just don’t know how to do it or where to get started. Once they realize how easy it is to create their own activities, how little effort it takes to create meaningful activities for their classes using the feared apps, there is no ending to their requests to learn more and more, which is just awesome! On this post, I am going to comply with a request from one of the teachers attending the workshops at CPR Cuencas. Carlota, this post is for you.

During these workshops, over the course of a conversation I mentioned, and probably showed, the add-ons I use on Google Chrome to make my work more productive.  Surprisingly, most of the teachers attending didn’t even know what I was talking about. I promised I would show them the ones I used. But, with so many things to teach, we didn’t have time. I’m sorry. It took me a while to write this post, but here it is.

First of all, the basics

What is an add-on or extension?

These little icons you see next to the address bar are called add-ons or extensions. They are small apps that add extra features to Chrome and can improve your productivity, for example by correcting your spelling or grammar mistakes.  Awesome, isn’t it?

How do I install an extension?

Just click here and write the name of the extension you want to install.

How do I manage my extensions?

(it has background music)

 

My favourite Google Chrome Extensions

The ones I cannot live without, and in no particular order, are the following:

1. Send from Gmail by Google

The easiest and quickest way to share links

Let’s imagine this scenario. You are on a website you very much would like to share with a colleague or just send to yourself to explore later.  There are many things you can do with this link. For me, the easiest is using the add-on above, which will open my Gmail account. To do it, just click on the extension, enter the recipient’s address and click Send.


2. Tab Resize- split screen layouts

The easiest way to split your screen into separate tabs

Very often, we need to see the content of two or even three windows in the same screen. For example, when doing a grammar exercise online we often need to refer to the grammar or when correcting a listening comprehension we might also want to display the transcript.  This is easy with Tab Resize. You just need to click on the icon and choose how to split your screen.


3. Grammarly for Chrome

To make sure you don’t send an important document or an email with spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes.
Isn’t it helpful? I don’ t know about you, but I am not perfect.

Look at the picture below. Writing this blog, I have made a spelling mistake. Immediately, my mistake is highlighted and an alternative suggested which, of course, you can choose to ignore. Wow!


4. Bit.ly

To shorten the links you want to share

Isn’t it true that very often we need to provide students with a URL that is impossible to write because of its length? When this happens, what do you? I use bit.ly, which is a URL shortener. Surely, you can go to their website and copy-paste the URL to obtain the shortened URL, but wouldn’t it be more productive to just click on the icon, copy the shortened URL and share with your students or colleagues? That’s what I do!

Once you get the shortened link, just write on the board for your students to copy. A piece of cake!

(it has background music)

 

5. Google Dictionary

With this extension installed, finding the meaning of a word and how to pronounce it couldn’t be easier. There are two ways to do it:

  1. Double click the word and you’ll see a little pop-up bubble showing a brief definition.
  2. Select the word and click on the add-on icon on the toolbar to get the complete definition of any word.

Note:  after installing the add-on, either reload your open tabs or restart Chrome.


6. Pinterest Save Button

To curate the web

I have been using Pinterest since it was first launched. I don’t think I could live without it. That’s the place where I store every inspiring idea that I see on the web, every activity I want to use in class, every blog that I want to read or every video I want to play in class.  Over the years I have tried other tools to organize and collect content but I have yet to find one that is as simple and as widely used as Pinterest to curate content. Suffice to say, I have about 150 boards and growing. See them here.

So, how does it work? Let’s say you see an interesting activity you want to use in your classes, but will you be able to remember where you read it?  I don’t know about you, but I read so many blogs that it’s impossible to remember who wrote what and where.

The extension Pinterest save Button has really saved my life. I see something I like, I click the Pin button and store it in one of my boards. See the video below. Obviously,  first you need to create an account on Pinterest.

(it has background music)

 


7. Google Drive New Tab

This is just a shortcut to opening my Google Drive.  If you don’t use Google Drive, then it’s not very useful to you but if you do,  it saves lots of time.

So, just click on the icon on the toolbar and a new tab will open on your Google Drive. Simple but effective.

 


8. Awesome Screenshot

An add-on that lives up to its name. It allows you to easily capture all or parts of any webpage. You can add comments and annotations and also blur some parts. It also allows you to record your screen in an easy way.

Thanks for reading! I know it is a long post, but hasn’t it been worth it?

Countable and Uncountable Nouns: a Game and a Quiz with Partitives

Most of the times, it is easy to tell when a noun is countable (ie. can be counted) and when it is uncountable.  Think about the words “dog” and “sugar”. Easy, isn’t it?

We can say one dog, two dogs or a dog, ie, you can count “dogs

But can you count “sugar”? Of course, you can’t. You can’t say one sugar, two sugars or sugars, not even a sugar.

If only it were that easy! 🙂 Take for example vegetables and fruit. Vegetables are countable, but fruit is normally uncountable, though in some cases, to complicate things, it can be made plural when referring to different kinds of fruit.

The vast majority of commonly consumed fruits qualify as non-starchy.
Would you like some fruit for dessert?

There you have it, this is English!

If you want to know more about countable and uncountable nouns, here,  it is clearly explained.

On this post, I want to share with you two activities I did with my Upper-intermediate students in case you want to use them in your classes.

 Game: Sit down. Stand Up

The first one is a very simple activity, perfect to use after a tedious lesson when you see attention is beginning to fade. Actually, it is not a game as there is no competition and nobody is eliminated but, to be honest, I don’t know how to call it. An energizer, perhaps? What is clear is that it will keep your students engaged and motivated.

I have used this activity with upper-intermediate students so the concept of countable or uncountable (mass) is not new to them.

Before the class: prepare a list of names that are clearly either countable or uncountable.

How to play:

  1. Tell students you are going to call out nouns that can be classified as either countable or uncountable.
  2. Tell them they will need to sit down if the noun is uncountable and stand up if it countable.

This is the list of nouns I have used:

Uncountable nouns: weather, advice, accommodation, luggage, staff, furniture, scenery, rubbish, behaviour, health, cotton, politics, work, homework, news, clothes, money

Countable:  vegetables, worksheet, newspaper, item, journey, grape, difference

As you can see there are far more uncountable than countable nouns because my students already have a clear idea of what countable and uncountable means. If you are introducing this concept for the first time, I would suggest you use more or less the same number of countable and uncountable nouns.

The Quiz

So, how can we make an uncountable noun countable? That’s easy! Very often, we can use “a piece of…” before the uncountable nouns.

We can say:

A piece of fruit/cake/cheese/baggage/furniture/news/rubbish/research… etc

But English wouldn’t be considered one of the richest languages if you could just use “ a piece of” with every uncountable noun, would it? So here’s a quiz where you will learn some other partitive structures used with uncountable nouns.

How I suggest you work with the quiz:

You can certainly do the quiz once if you have a prodigious memory and are able to remember every combination, but if you are like the rest of the mortals, taking the quiz once is not enough.

I would suggest taking the quiz two or three times, then writing down all the combinations you can remember and then taking the quiz again to check and consolidate.

Learning or Teaching Reporting Verbs? 5 Low-Tech and High-Tech Activities

And finally, it’s springtime. “Here comes the sun da-da-da-da”. After, like two months raining non-stop and cold spells whimsically coming and going, I was beginning to flirt with the idea of leaving “sunny” Spain. But, fortunately, it seems spring is here to stay. And this means light. Don’t you feel more energetic when you wake up in the morning, and there is this beautiful sunny day waiting for you outside? I do.

It seems to me that even explaining reported speech introductory verbs is a lighter task.

Here you can read some of the activities I did with my students to introduce, revise and consolidate reporting verbs. I have used a variety of online free tools. Free tools, as usual.

  • Aim: to introduce, revise and consolidate reporting verbs other than “say” “ask” and “tell”
  • Level: B2

AN INFOGRAPHIC TO CONSOLIDATE THE GRAMMAR STRUCTURE OF SOME REPORTING VERBS

I like infographics. They are colourful and can be displayed on the walls of the class for students to refer back to if they, God forbid, forget the grammar of these verbs. Honestly? I like creating them. I like playing with the fonts, icons, lines and anything the site has to offer to create them.

reporting verbs by cristina.cabal    I have created this infographic with Canva.

Direct link here


A "HALF-A-CROSSWORD" GAME TO HELP THEM REMEMBER THE MOST COMMON REPORTING VERBS.

This kind of exercise gives students a nice opportunity to use a variety of skills.

I have used a free website with a very complicated name, which I am not even going to attempt to write. Here’s the link. The only thing you need to do is write the terms in the box provided and then print the outcome. It’s magic.


A GALLERY QUIZ: A MATCHING EXERCISE WITH SOME REPORTING VERBS

This exercise takes students a step further as they will have to associate the meaning of a sentence in direct speech with the corresponding reporting verb.

This is a visual exercise you can do more than once to consolidate knowledge.


A STUDY-SET OF FLASHCARDS

Students should be ready to get into more demanding exercises as are the ones I suggest below.

In this exercise, students orally provide the reporting sentence.  The exercise has been created with quizlet, a well-known free tool I highly recommend as study sets are very easy to create and it’s great for rote learning. Although it offers a premium version, the free one is quite generous.
Depending on how confident your students feel, you can set this task to be done as an individual written exercise or orally as a whole class exercise.

Created with quizlet


USING GRASS SKIRTS: A TRANSLATION EXERCISE

This is game from the archives. I highly recommend you do it with your students. Lots of learning and lots of fun too. Your students are going to adore you.

Before the class: Decide on 8 sentences using a variety of reporting verbs you’d like your students to translate. You can use Tekhnologic’s template or create your own. Write the sentences in the spaces provided. Print as many copies as you need and cut along the dotted lines. Each group of three or four students will be assigned a copy. A good idea would be to use a different coloured paper for each group, but this is entirely optional. Put them on the walls of the class.

Now, you are ready to start.

Procedure:

Ask students to work in groups of three or four. Draw students’ attention to the walls of the class and assign each group a poster with the 8 sentences.

Tell students that the aim of the game would be to translate all the sentences on their assigned poster on the wall. To do so, they must nominate a runner who is the one who must run to the wall, tear off the sentence, run back to his group and then together translate the sentence.

Once it’s done, the runner must go to the teacher and show him their translated sentence. If it’s correct, the runner can tear off the second sentence. If it’s incorrect, he must return to his group and correct the mistake(s). The teacher can help a bit by underlining where the mistake is. Only if the teacher has marked the sentence with a tick, it is considered correct.

Rules.

  • The runner cannot tear off a new sentence until the previous one has been shown to the teacher and marked with a tick.
  • The runner cannot correct the sentence at the teacher’s desk. He must return to his group and there, correct the sentence.
  • Groups can only tear off sentences from their assigned posters.
  • The first group to have a tick in all 8 sentences is the winner.

Follow-up: Whole class. Read out the sentences from the poster and ask students to, orally, translate them.  Focus on any common problems you might have noticed.


THE FRUIT MACHINE: A MORE DEMANDING EXERCISE ALLEVIATED WITH A BIT OF FUN

This activity is probably the most challenging in this compilation.

How to go about it:

  • Divide the class into two teams, Team A and Team B. Ask a representative of each team to come to the front of the class facing away from the board where the fruit machine is displayed. Let’s call them Captain A and Captain B.
  • Set a timer for 90 seconds.

The activity has two parts:

Part 1.  Team A starts playing. Spin the fruit machine and a reporting verb will be randomly chosen.

For example: Suggest

Team A  needs to, using direct speech, come up with a sentence to exemplify “suggest”

For example: “Why don’t we go to the cinema?”

Captain A needs to guess the reporting verb associated with the sentence. If he does his team scores 1 point.

Part 2. Ask team members to repeat their sentence and have Captain A report the sentence using the reporting verb in indirect speech. If he does, his team scores an extra point.

Teams have a maximum of 90 seconds to do part 1 and 2.

Now, it is Team B’s turn to play.

I have created this activity with classtools.net. Click on the image to see the fruit machine in action. Warning: you might want to turn down the volume in your computer.

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