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.

6 Steps to Getting a Job: How to write a Cover Letter Applying for a Job and a Résumé

When applying for a job, there are some things you might have to do:

  • Send a résumé or a CV ( Curriculum Vitae)
  • Fill in an application form
  • Write a letter applying for a job

 

In this post, I’ll guide you step by step to help you write a good cover letter and a résumé

  • Step 1. The difference between a résumé and a CV
  • Step 2. Writing a CV or a résumé. Templates
  • Step 3. Writing a cover letter. Some tips. 
  • Step 4. Layout of a cover letter.
  • Step 5. Sending your cover letter via email.
  • Step 6. Some tips on how to answer a job interview.

Let’s start.

Step 1. What’s the difference between a résumé and a CV?

It’s more or less the same. The CV is longer than the résumé. The résumé includes a summary of your education, experience, and skills and it’s usually one page long whereas the CV is two or three pages long and includes more details like research, awards, presentations, publications …etc. It’s ideal for academics.

Some tips:

  • Keep it simple. It shouldn’t be longer than two pages.
  • The content should be  easy to read
  • Use reverse chronological order. You should put your most recent job first and then write the other jobs going back in time.
  • You don’t have to write full sentences. Ex: “Developed a social media strategy…”
  • Skip personal information such “Divorced and with 2 kids”.

 

Step 2. Writing a CV or résumé. Templates.

 

Here are two links to templates to write your CV or résumé. (Please note that this is not a sponsored post)

  • Canva: you will need to register. Find the templates in the Documents section. Make sure you use a free template
  • Uptowork: provides guided free templates to build your résumé or CV.

 

Step 3: Writing a cover letter. Some tips

A job application letter, also known as cover letter normally accompanies a résumé or CV. Nowadays, unless you are specifically required to send a letter by snail mail, cover letters are normally sent by email or attached as a file in online application systems.

Sending an email instead of a letter makes little difference. It’s only the layout that varies slightly.

Now here are some tips:

  • Use formal language.
  • Don’t use contractions and punctuation such as dashes and exclamation marks.
  • Don’t use personal or emotional language.
  • If you are replying to an advertisement, relate to all the points asked for and give additional information.
  • Mention your skills and experience and give supporting details.
  • Have spaces between paragraphs
  • Keep it short and to the point.
  • Use a professional email address; kittylou@gmail.com might not be appropriate or very professional.
  • Remember to check that you have used the appropriate style for the person you are writing to.
  • Check your email carefully for spelling, grammar mistakes, and punctuation
  • Make sure you sign your cover letter.
  • If you are sending your CV or résumé, put “Enclosed: CV/résumé” at the end of
    your cover letter

 

Step 4. Layout of a cover letter.

Presentation

 

On the Right

  • Your address: on the right-hand side of the page (without your name)
  • Date: below your address. Leave a blank line in between.

On the left

  • Position/name of the person you are writing to. Start one line below the date.
  • Address of the person or company you are writing to.

Greeting:

Use an appropriate formal greeting. Use a comma after the greeting or nothing.

If you know the name of the person you are writing to:

  •  Dear Mrs/Miss/ Ms + surname if you are writing to a woman
  • Dear  Mr+ surname if you are writing to a man.

If you don’t know their names, use

  • Dear Sir or Madam or Dear Hiring Manager or Dear Human Resource Manager
  • Alternatively, you can use To whom it may concern

Note that all the salutations start with Dear.

Follow the salutation with a comma.

Opening Paragraph:  Always start by stating what the purpose of your letter is. Here you should mention the position you are applying for and where you learn of the vacancy. This section should be short and to the point. It’s the most important part of your letter. Here, either you grab the reader’s attention or you can bore him and decide not to continue reading.

Some useful expressions:

  • I am writing in response to your advertisement for…
  • I am writing to express my interest in the …. position listed on …(name of the website)
  • I am writing with reference to your advertisement…
  • I would like to apply for the …. position advertised in /on……

Main Body:  It can be divided into several paragraphs. Organise your content into the different paragraphs.

Here you need to expand on your experience and qualifications showing how you are relevant to this job.  Give clear details and examples. You don’t need to repeat all the information on your résumé but highlight what is relevant to this position. Emphasize your strengths.

Emphasize also your interest in the job and why you think you are suitable for the job. Remember that your goal is to get a job interview.

If you have attached a copy of your résumé or completed an application form, mention it.

Useful expressions:

  • I think I am the right person for the job because…
  • I feel I am well qualified for the position
  • I think I have the knowledge and experience that is needed for…
  • I have some/ a lot of experience working with…
  • With regard to your requirements, I believe that I am a suitable candidate for this post as
  • I believe I would be good at…
  • I believe I would make a good …. because I am…
  • I am very reliable and I get on well with people…
  • I have always had an interest in…
  • I think I would be suitable for the job / a good choice ( to be a/ an…) because...

Closing Paragraph: 

Explain why you think your application should be taken into consideration. If relevant, mention that you enclose a CV/ reference. State that you are willing to attend an interview and thank the reader.

Useful expressions:

  • A résumé/CV giving details of my qualifications and experience is attached
  • As requested, I am enclosing my CV and two references and my completed job application
  • I hope you will consider me for the position.
  • I would be able to start immediately
  • I would be happy to attend an interview any time convenient to you.

Signing  off

  • Using  I look forward to hearing from you   or Thank you for your time and consideration  are good ways to end a formal letter
  • End with Yours faithfully if you begin with Dear Sir/Madam
  • End with Yours sincerely if you begin with Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms + surname

In American English, Yours truly and Yours sincerely are commonly used in both cases.

If in the greeting you have followed the salutation with a comma, write a comma also after Yours faithfully/sincerely.


Some words commonly used in job applications

Nouns such as preference, qualifications, company, reference, information, opportunity, experience, position, vacancy, ability, advertisement, employment, résumé, details, interview…etc

Verbs such as  apply, reply, advertise…etc

Adjectives such as  convenient, excellent, qualified, enthusiastic, necessary, energetic, suitable, available, attached, experienced, interested, responsible, possible, friendly…etc

Adverbs such as immediately, recently, extremely, sincerely…etc


Get some practice writing cover letters here

Step 5.  Sending your cover letter via email
  •  In the subject line of the message, write your name and the job you are applying for.
  • Don’t write the date or the employer’s contact information. Start your email with the salutation
  • Don’t forget to write all your contact details after you sign off.

Practice:

Write a cover letter/email applying for one of these two jobs.

Step 6: Some tips on how to answer a job interview
  • When they ask you to describe yourself in three words, they are asking you about your professional persona and how you would fit in the company. Talk about what makes you stand out. Talk about accomplishments and skills that you know are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Do some research on the company and show it in your answers.
  • Don’t give them personal details. They are not really interested in your life or your problems.
  • It’s Ok to ask the interviewer questions about the job. You also want to make sure this is the right job for you and at the same time show the interviewer you are interested in the job. Prepare them beforehand  and try not to ask yes/no questions:
  • Can you tell me about the responsibilities of this job?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?
  • Avoid questions about salary, holidays, etc

Hope this post helps you get the best job 🙂

PDF for this lesson here

Special thanks to Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat from English with a Twist for answering some of my questions.

Here’s a funny sketch where former President Obama tries to sharpen his skills to pass a job interview. Don’t miss it!

Tips and Tricks: Some Essential Basic Tools any 21st Century Teacher should Know About.

Do you know how to download a video from youtube or convert a PDF or a website into an editable Word document? Do you know where to find free images and videos to use in your projects or how to record audio and create a QR code to share with your students and colleagues? Did you know that long URLs can be easily shortened so that they can be shared more easily?

If you don’t, then this post might be for you!

I’m not a digital native. Far from it. Everything I know I had to learn by trial and error. However, right now, you can probably say I’m the typical technophile always on the lookout for new tools to create activities to spark up my classes.

The tools I want to share with you today are nothing fancy. You cannot create activities where your students will ooh and ahh, but trust me, they are going to save you a lot of time and a lot of searching. They have been tested and tried and I have been using them for a long, long time.

 


AUDIO AND VIDEO


Problem: I need to join/cut two audio files and I need to record myself on video/audio

Solution: 123apps.com/

This is a great tool to work with audio and video. It’s free, easy to use and you don’t even need to register.

What can you do on this page?

  • Cut video or audio ( you need to upload it from your computer)
  • Join two audio tracks
  • Convert video and audio from one format into another
  • Easily record video and audio ( and then download it)

Downside: you need to have the video/audio on your computer. Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to download a video. Keep on reading.

 

Problem: I need to record my voice/upload audio and then share it

Solution: vocaroo.com/ 

Vocaroo has been around for a long time. They are even working on a new and improved version. It lets you record your voice in a very easy way or upload a file from your computer. Then, you are offered different possibilities:

  • Download it
  • Share it on social media sites.
  • Share or email the link
  • Embed it on a blog or website
  • Get a QR code

Downside: Vocaroo does not provide permanent storage. There is not a definite age at which messages are deleted, however, it is likely messages will expire after a few months. If a message is important you should download and save it to your own computer as soon as possible to avoid losing it.

 

Problem:  My internet connection is weak and I need to download a video from a website other than youtube.

Solution:  videocyborg.com/

This amazing tool lets you download videos from any platform, even from youtube. To download a video, just get the link, copy/paste it into the box and download it. You can choose to download the video or just the audio.

 

Problem: My school has blocked facebook but I need my students to see a video there.

Solution: get the link for the video and then download it using  videocyborg.com/

Watch the video to see how it is done.

 

Problem: I need to cut a video from youtube

Solution: You need  tubechop.com/

Cut it, get the URL and then download it using videocyborg (link above)


TEXT


Problem: I need to convert a PDF into an easy editable WORD document

Solution: tools.pdf24.org/en/

This is a great tool to work with PDF. It’s free, easy to use and you don’t even need to register.

What can you do on this page?  Pretty much everything.

  • Convert a PDF into a Word document and  Word into PDF.
  • Split a PDF or merge them.
  • Sign or add page numbers to the  PDF.
  • Remove or extract PDF pages.

 

Problem: I need to convert a website into a PDF file or an editable WORD document

Solution: documentcyborg.com/

You only need to copy and paste the URL into the box, choose the format and download it and save it on your computer. You don’t even need to register.

 

Problem:  I have a scanned PDF or an image with some text and I want to extract the text

Solution:  www.onlineocr.net/

Onlineocr is free, simple and no registration is required. Copy/àste the URL ad then download the text as a Word document among other possibilities.

 


SHARING A LONG URL


Problem: I need to share with a long URL  with my students

Solution:  bitly.com/

Sometimes we have to give our students a long URL which seems almost impossible to type without making a mistake. Instead of writing this long URL, use bit.ly to shorten it. To do it, paste the long link in the search box and that’s it.


PRINTING A WEBSITE


Problem: I want to print some content from a website, but I don’t want to print all the images and adverts.

Solution:  printwhatyoulike.com/

Just enter the URL, edit the page getting rid of anything you don’t want to print, and then print it.


CREATING A QR


Problem: I need to create a simple QR Code with the answer to an exercise and download the QR Code to share it with my students

Solution:the-qrcode-generator.com/

Easy to use and doesn’t require registration. Just paste your text and then save it to download it.


FREE TEMPLATES FOR POWERPOINT OR GOOGLE SLIDES


Problem: I need to find beautiful free thematic templates  to make a presentation on Google Slides or PowerPoint

Solution: slidescarnival.com/

FREE IMAGES AND VIDEO


Problem: my students are doing a project and they need to find free images and/or videos

Solution: for free images: pixabay.com/ ;for free videos pixabay.com/videos/

I hope these websites are helpful and save you a lot of time.

 

 
Licencia de Creative Commons
Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 4.0 Internacional.

Reporting verbs: A Translation Exercise Using Grass Skirts

Do you like translation exercises?

If you think they are boring, perhaps I might succeed in changing your mind once you read about this activity.

Writing is always on my mind (like Joe Manganiello 😀  ).  It ‘s true that I should probably dedicate more time to writing tasks in class, but writing takes a lot of time and time is a luxury I cannot always afford. For this reason, I try to do small writing activities that take less time but have proven very effective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have been reading my blog for some time you have probably guessed a thing or two about me:  I am a huge fan of competitions and anything that brings fun and a relaxed atmosphere – and probably a little bit of noise- into the classroom.

I think the exercise I’m about to describe combines perfectly well the two above. I have used it to revise reported speech (indirect speech) and more specifically reporting verbs, but it can be easily adapted to any other point of grammar you need to revise.

In case you are wondering, below is a picture of the grass skirt I have used for this activity. You can also call them tearable sentences, but I like grass skirts better.  You can make your own template o download the one Tekhnologic very kindly offers on his website. I have used his.

 


The activity


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.

Give runners a round of well-deserved applause and maybe something to drink  😆 

Have you ever played Quizlet.live? Then, you are missing out!

Easter is here and this means a break from teaching. A very much needed break to be honest. Not that I am complaining but, is it me or does this Easter feel extra early?

Anyway, the last day before the Christmas break and the Easter break are always days that I both love and hate. These are the days when I have to give my students good or bad news. This means marks and, unfortunately, not all the students pass with flying colours.

Well, this last day and just before giving them their marks I wanted them to have a bit of fun and leave the class in high spirits so I decided to try a new game I had been meaning to try for a long time, Quizlet.live.  I tried it and I have to say I liked it.

Here’s why:

  1. Students work in groups. I like this much more than individual work.
  2. Students have to discuss the correct answer and they have to agree before they click. And this means talking. A lot. In English.
  3. If they make a mistake, they can start again. And this means reinforcing.
  4. However, they have to choose the correct answer very carefully. If they make a mistake they go back to 0 points.
  5. The teacher can create his own sets or if he is feeling lazy or too busy, there are millions of public quizlets to choose from. Thank God for this small favour!
  6. It’s free.
  7. It’s fun. Like, a lot.
What you need to play:
  • Mobile devices: tablets, mobile phones or Chromebooks. One for every student.
  •  A minimum of 4 students. The more the merrier.
  • A study set with at least six unique terms and definitions. Again, I would recommend more.
Setting a game

Part 1. Pre-game

  • Once you have decided on the study set you want to give your students, choose Live. I have created a study set to revise the use of the infinitive and gerund in English.

  • Then, choose Definitions and Terms. Actually, if you do not have a Premium account, that’s the only one you can use. Bear it in mind if you decide to create your own set: what you have written as a definition will be what your students see as a question and what you write in the space provided for the term will be the possible answer.

  • Ask students to take out their devices and go to quizlet.live. Share with them the join  code you will get once you click Create Game. When prompted, ask them to write their real names. Writing their real name makes it easier to form the groups.
  • The computer randomly selects groups. If you have some students that you feel won’t work well together, you can always reshuffle the groups.
  • Ask students to stand up and sit in their groups

Part 2. Playing

  • Once the teacher clicks Start Game, the students will see the first matching task.
  • On the class screen, they will only see that the ostriches and sea turtles are tied 0-0.

  • Now the first question/definition/word is displayed on their screens. It’s the same for all the members of the team, but only one member of the team will have the correct answer. They will need to discuss who has the correct answer and click on it. For example, in the picture below, I am pairing with Mary. I do not have the correct answer, but my partner does.

  • Tell students that the first team to get to 12 points wins the game.
  • Warning: If a team chooses an incorrect answer, they go back to zero and they will lose all the points and will need to start again. In my opinion, this is just great to reinforce knowledge.
  • At the end of the game, they can analyze the answers and see what they are struggling with.
What I liked most

What I like most about this game is that students are collaborating with each other all the time, using vocabulary and discussing which answers are correct and which are incorrect in a way that is really engaging and motivating.

Also, you can share with them the link for the study set and have them revise at home.

Finally, on twitter, I saw an idea that I really liked, especially if you don’t mind some noise and you only have a few devices. It was from a teacher called Mrs. French. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing the video.

Crime and Punishment: Some Engaging Classroom Activities

I am not a big fan of watching TV. I find most programmes dull and very often uninteresting. However, one of the very first things I do as soon as I wake up (this, of course after my first cup of coffee) is to watch the news. However, lately, I have been considering skipping them. Is it me or do you have the impression that the news is filled with disaster and corruption?  How can you be expected to rise and shine when the world is going crazy,  when all the stories in the news are about crimes and criminals? I’d rather watch the weather forecast! Hey! Hold on!! Just heard about hurricanes and floods? I think I’ll stick to Netflix.

Anyway, please excuse my rambling and let me share with you some of the activities I have designed to help my students learn and practise vocabulary related to crime in a series of engaging speaking activities.


Using grass skirts. Making up a funny crime story

Preparation:

  • Choose a number of crimes and write them down. You can use my own template. See it here.
  • Cut a line between words (see picture) but don’t cut them all the way so that the slip of paper doesn’t detach.
  • Each poster contains 9 crimes. If you have between 10 and 18 students you will need two copies of the poster.
  • Put the poster(s) on the walls of the class.

Procedure:

  • Point to the posters on the walls of the class.
  • Tell students they will have about 10 minutes to make up a funny crime story. They can take notes but they cannot write the whole story.
  • Ask students to stand up and take a crime. They will do it by tearing off the piece of paper containing the crime.
  • Students sit down and began making up their funny crime stories.
  • In groups of 3 or 4, they share their stories and decide on the best story in the group.
  • The best story in each group will be then shared with the whole class and again the best story will be chosen.

 


Using a Feedback Tool to play a game to revise vocabulary.

This one is a lot of fun. Believe me!

Aim:  to revise vocabulary related to crime using the free online tool Answergarden

Preparation: Minimal.

If you have never used a feedback tool, you really should give it a try. I have used feedback tools and also backchannels in my classes in a number of ways to teach English and I like them for several reasons.

  1. They are very effective
  2. They tell you in real time whether students are really learning or not.
  3. They give voice to all the students and not just to the ones who always raise hands.
  4. They are fun and make classes more interesting and engaging.

Downside: it requires the use of devices with an internet connection. However, two students can share the same device.


If you find it hard to integrate technology into your classes, I run workshops  on the use of online free tools in the language classroom (tool+practical tested ideas+practice designing your own activities- see workshops here)


How to set a room in Answergarden in less than 1 minute.

  • Go to Answergarden and click on Create Answergarden
  • Type your topic or question
  • Set Classroom or Brainstorm Mode
  • Set the answer length to 20 characters
  • Click on Create and share the link with your students.
  • Students submit their answers and they are represented in the form of a growing word cloud.

Tip: Don’t forget to refresh your page to see all the answers the students are submitting or to choose the expand tab which will refresh the page automatically every 5 seconds.

The Game.Procedure

Step 1. Creating the wordcloud

Share the link for the Answergarden you have created and ask students to submit words related to crime. Their answers will be represented in the form of an attractive wordcloud.

(Note: This is an active answergarden. You can submit words, but please, only words related to crime 🙂

Step 2. Playing

  1.  Divide the class into two teams and ask a representative of each team to come to the front of the class facing away from the board where the word cloud is displayed. Let’s call them Captain A and Captain B. Place a table in front of the students and on the table place two reception bells. If you can’t find the bells, any other sound would do! But, there has to be a sound, mainly, because it’s fun!
  2. Set a timer for 90 seconds. Teams have 1m 30´ to describe as many words as possible. Point to a word and ask the class to describe the word using synonyms, definitions or paraphrasing. If a captain knows the word, he will need to press the bell and then say the word.
  • If the answer is correct, his team scores a point and the game continues in the same way until the time runs out.  The teams choose other captains to continue playing.
  • If the answer is incorrect, he won’t be allowed to guess again until the other captain has had a chance at guessing.


Random Questions- A Speaking Activity.

I have created the presentation with questions to discuss about crime and punishment with the free tool Genial.ly

Procedure:

  1. Ask students to write on a small scrap of paper 5 words they have learned. If they have learned “ to be sentenced to” for example, encourage them to write the whole expression and not just “sentenced “.
  2. Click on the random question button in the presentation. Ask students to swap slips of paper with their partners and get them to discuss the question reminding them to use as many words from the slip of paper as possible. Allow 4 or 5 minutes to discuss this question.
  3.  Ask students to swap lists again before asking them to stand up and find a new partner.
  4. Click on the random question button in the presentation again and repeat procedure.

Hope you have enjoyed the activities.
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Let’s Talk about Crime: is it Rob, Steal or Burgle?

Do you know the difference between steal, rob and burgleHow do we use these three verbs?

TO STEAL

You steal when you take (unlawfully) what belongs to someone else. The object of this verb is generally what you have stolen.Generally, you steal things. The person who steals is a thief.

  • Someone’s stolen my watch
  • He stole all my money
  • They wanted me to steal your ring

You can also  steal something from someone

  • He stole from me and from my friends
TO ROB

You rob when you unlawfully take something from its owner.You rob someone or you rob a place (bank, shop, house…etc. The person who robs is a robber.

  • I have been robbed
  • Robin Hood robbed the rich
  • He robbed a bank

 

A person or institution is robbed of something by someone or an entity

  • She robbed me of all my money
TO BURGLE

It means to steal from a building, a home…etc.   The person who breaks into houses, shops … etc to steal things is a burglar.

  • My house was burgled last night
  • She has been burgled

Test your knowledge with this exercise.

Click at the top right-hand corner to enlarge the window (red arrows)

 

A Low-Prep, Low-Tech Discussion Game to Activate New Vocabulary with a Simple Scrap of Paper

Naturally, I am a huge supporter of any activity that involves students getting out of their seats and interacting with other students. Also, if you have been reading me for a while, you will surely know that I am always worried about making vocabulary stick.
So, this super simple activity combines these two things+ zero preparation. How does that sound? Yes, I know. Besides, it’s compatible with any topic you are working with. Believe me, this activity is a hit.
There is a 99% chance that you will end up participating in the activity, but please, do not get all proper and spoil the fun by telling students to keep their voices down. Let them enjoy.

Aim: to make vocabulary stick by revising, reinforcing and using it.
Topic: Any. I was working with the theme of environment, but any topic would do
Level: Any.

How to go about it

Revising.

1. Revision with slips of paper. Start by revising the vocabulary you have introduced in previous lessons. I usually write the vocabulary I need to revise on slips of paper, place myself in the middle of the classroom (desks are arranged in a U shape) and very quickly give a short definition, synonym or antonym. The student who guesses correctly gets the slip of card. The winner, as you might have guessed, is the student who has more cards at the end of this activity. I do this activity very often. I think I like it because I can see that my students love it and it is a good exercise not only to revise meanings but also to work on pronunciation.

Writing.

2. Writing 5 newly- acquired words. Ask students to write on a small scrap of paper 5 words they have learned. If they have learned “make the most of” for example, encourage them to write the whole expression and not just “make the most “.

Speaking

3. On the board, write a question for the students to discuss in pairs.

4. Tell the students to stand up with the scrap of paper containing their words and choose a partner to talk to. They can sit down if they want to or they can remain standing.

5. Ask them to swap the pieces of papers and read the 5 words on it making sure they know what they mean. If they don’t, they should ask their partner to explain or clarify meanings

6. Point to the question on the board and ask them to discuss it trying to introduce as many words as possible from their list of words. Allow 4 or 5 minutes to discuss this question.

7. Important step: Ask students to swap lists again before asking them to stand up and find a new partner.

8. Write a new question for discussion on the board. Ask students to sit down with their new partner, swap the scraps of paper and repeat procedure.

My students said they loved the game! Let me know what your students think if you decide to give it a go.

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