Tag Archives: homework

Lesson Plan: Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world

Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world- Nelson Mandela

I’m so excited. Truly. I am. It’s been months since the last time I taught a class full of students. I know it’s going to be hard but I’m really willing to get back in the swing of things. I’m also preparing material for my workshops, and I have a bunch of work to catch up on, but I’m anyway feeling really motivated. So, it seems I am off to a good start.

This is a lesson for upper- intermediate students (B2) about education. In this post, you will find

  • Some vocabulary you might need to revise/learn when discussing this subject.
  • A small challenge with some confusing terms related to education
  • A video about  6 problems of our education system
  • Speaking practice: questions to discuss
  • A written assignment

The warm-up. Setting the context

I don’t think there is a better way to introduce a topic than by showing students a picture that will probably spark interest and hook students into the lesson. That’s the aim of the picture below.

Show the picture and listen to student’ reactions. Probably, the first one would be “Me, neither”, but let’s dig in for more profound reactions.

Tell students to get into pairs and think of three reasons why this boy wouldn’t want to go to school. Allow them 2 or 3 minutes and the write their suggestions on the board and discuss them.

Ask students: Can you relate to the boy in this picture? What can you remember about your kindergarten? In your opinion, what’s the ideal age to start school?

The vocabulary

Ask students to work in pairs. Write on the board the word “education” and ask students to brainstorm vocabulary related to the topic. Encourage them to mind map to help them revise vocabulary related to this thematic area. Allow them some minutes and get feedback from the whole class.  I gave handout 1   to my intermediate students last year, so this year (B2), I will probably need to revise and add the terms in handout 2 explaining difficult vocabulary.

The challenge.Did you know?

In this part of the lesson, students are presented with some confusing terms.

Ask them to work in pairs and discuss the questions posed in the flip cards. Award 1 point to the student who has guessed the right answer.
Flash Card Deck created by Cristina Cabal with GoConqr
 

Speaking. The questions.

Ask students, in pairs or small groups, to answer the following questions about education, where they will revise some of the vocabulary learned in the previous step. Encourage the use of new vocabulary.

You can get the PDF with the questions here, but isn’t it more appealing to use the Spark below.

Education

Listening. The video: 6 problems with our school system.

Methodology: collaborative retelling

It is a longish video. It lasts almost 6 minutes so I’d suggest breaking it up and asking students to work on different parts of the video.  In the video, 6 problems with our education system are mentioned.

This activity will be set as homework.

  1. Introduction.  In class, play the first 34 seconds of the video and tell students to give you a summary. They will probably say that the video shows how our system of education has become obsolete and is not preparing children for the real world. Ask them whether they agree with this idea.

2. Homework.

  • Explain that everybody will need to listen to the introduction again (first 34 sec) which summarizes the content of the video.
  • Tell students the video talks about 6 problems our current education system is facing nowadays.
  • Form groups of six students and tell them that, in the next lesson, they will be working in groups of six and each of them will share what they have learned about their assigned problem and their opinion on whether this is a real problem in their country providing examples, if possible.Alternatively, you can form groups of 3 students and assign each student two problems.
  • Assign tasks to the different students in the  group
  • Student 1: Industrial Age values 0:35-1:26
  • Student 2: Lack of autonomy 1:26-2:18
  • Student 3: Inauthentic learning  2:18-3:12
  • Student 4: No room for passion 3:12-4:15
  • Student 5: Differences in how we learn 4:15-4:40
  • Student 6: Lecturing 4:40-5:56

Writing. An opinion essay.

Write an opinion essay on the following:

Our current system of education is now outdated and ineffective.

Here’s a nice post I wrote last year which might help you.

Five Steps to Writing an Excellent Opinion Essay

Thanks for reading!

A Project-Based Learning Activity: Unusual Traditions

These past few days have been hectic with lots of exams to be written and then marked, plus all that red tape I can’t stand involving end-of-term exams. To top it all, my old friend the flu decided to pay me a visit. Very timely.  Right now, thank goodness, deadlines have been met and everybody seems to be winding down for the holiday season. Me, too. So, that’s probably going to be the last blog post of the year.

 

  • Organisation: Group work
  • Level: B2 and upwards
  • Materials: tackk tutorial here (optional)
  • Aims: to encourage collaborative work by giving students the challenge of researching, selecting and presenting a project about unusual traditions around the world.
  • Online tools: Padlet and Tackk

Project Based Learning- What is it?

It is a student –centred teaching method in which students acquire knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to a complex question, problem or challenge.

PBL is an active learning style which inspires and motivates students because they take an active role in their learning process and experience success in their own learning. The role of the teacher here is of mere facilitator and coach.

In PBL students are encouraged to work in pairs or in groups, which is also good because it creates a friendly atmosphere which is a boost to their motivation and creativity.


Project-based learning structure

  1. Choosing the problem or challenge
  2. Organisation
  3. Brainstorming
  4. Coordinating
  5. Sharing learning and refining
  6. Presenting and sharing

1.Choosing the problem or challenge.

For this project, students will be rising to the challenge of presenting information about unusual customs in the world.

2. Organisation.

My classes are quite large so students will work in groups of 4 or 5.

On the board the class as a whole decide on 4 or 5 areas, they want to talk about. There should be the same number of areas as groups you have. Each of these areas is assigned to a group to research.

In this project

  • Relationships
  • Festivals
  • Law
  • House and Home
3. Brainstorming

This step is done entirely at home with the help of an online collaborative free tool. My students are adults, some as old as 70,  and they only see each other in class  twice a week, so it was important to provide them with some kind of free online tool  they could use to brainstorm ideas, share them with the members of the group and organize their project (timing, visuals, specific assignments..etc). I used a Padlet, a well-known collaborative tool, which is very easy to use, something really important as some adults are reluctant to use new technologies. Each group was assigned a different Padlet and given a week to do research on the internet and post on Padlet their ideas.

Below is the Padlet the group”House and Home” used.

Hecho con Padlet

 

4. Coordinating.

This stage might take the first or last 10 minutes of your lesson. Once they have shared their ideas on Padlet, in class they decide on the number of traditions they are going to present, who is going to do what, the order in which they are going to present the information and the visuals or videos they are going to use.

5. Sharing learning and refining

In the next class, allow students time to get together in their groups and share their drafts. Offer help and guidance but ask students to help each other by swapping their drafts within their group  to improve and proofread their written work.

6. Presenting and sharing

Agree with the students on the order of the groups and let the show begin. Below is a picture of one of the groups on stage.

Sharing it with the world is also important. Here’s how we did it. Again, we used a free online digital tool called Tackk.com, which allows  you to beautifully showcase your projects. I gave my students this simple tutorial to help them get familiar with the tool.

Here’s the tackk my students have created.

 

Five Steps to Writing a Good For and Against Essay

An essay is a formal piece of writing which describes, analyses or discusses a particular issue.

The most common types are:

  • Opinion essays. They present the writer’s personal opinion of the topic, supported with examples and reasons.
  • For and against essays. They   present both sides of an issue in a balanced way. In the concluding paragraph you can say why you find one side more convincing than the other.

In this post, I’ll guide you step by step to help you write a good for and against essay.

  • Step 1. Tips and Guidelines +sample essay (pdf)
  • Step 2. Presentation + sample essay (reinforcing)
  • Step 3. Using connectors of contrast
  • Step 4. Using connectors of purpose
  • Step 5. Write: 53 topics to write about. (pdf)

Step 1. Tips and guidelines+sample essay 

Download pdf

1. The first stage in writing is producing ideas. It’s important to dedicate two or three minutes to carefully planning what you are going to say. Make a list of the points for and against. Remember that the key to writing a good balanced essay is to include as many arguments you disagree with as those you agree with. They should be noted impartially although in your conclusion you can say why you find one side more convincing than the other.

2. Producing and organising ideas is one thing. Shaping ideas and the organisation of your writing is another. But often the most difficult part is starting a first draft.

Once you have your first draft pay attention to how you have organised the information into paragraphs and grouped ideas.

Once this is done you can focus on expression. This means looking at sentence structure, tense usage and vocabulary. It’s important to write clearly and economically. This can mean either rephrasing ideas in two sentences instead of one, or rewriting two longer sentences as one shorter sentence. So, go over your first draft, looking for ways of improving sentence structure, tense usage and vocabulary.

3. Organise your essay into three parts:

  • Introduction- Paragraph 1- Introduce the topic. The opening should engage the reader’s interest and give a hint of what is to follow.
  • Main Body- Normally you have two paragraphs. In Paragraph 2, you state your arguments for and in Paragraph 3, your arguments against.
  • Conclusion– In paragraph 4 you refer back to the topic and summarize. Here you can say why you find one side more convincing than the other.

4. It’s important that you begin each paragraph with a main idea and then develop this idea. For a new idea, begin a new paragraph.

5. This is academic writing, so don’t use informal style ( no contractions, colloquial words, or emotional language).

6. Remember to use a variety of structures and vocabulary adequate to your level.

Step 2. Presentation + sample essay (reinforcing ).

Powered by emaze

Step 3. Using connectors of contrast.

Using connectors is important to express different relationships between ideas. Here, you’ll learn how to use connectors of contrast.

Read the flyer below to learn how to use: despite/in spite of, nevertheless, however, on the other hand, although, even though, though, yet, still, but and while/whereas. 

At the end of the flyer there are some interactive exercises to test your knowledge.

Step 3. Using connectors of purpose.

Now we learn how to express purpose with the following words: to, in order to, so as to, for, so that and in case.

Test your knowledge

Step 5. Write: 53 topics to write about.  Pdf here

Are you ready to write now? Here’s a compilation of 53 for and against topics to write about from different sites and course books. Take your pick, follow all the tips and guidelines and good luck!

EDUCATION

  1. Should schools start later in the morning?
  2. Benefits of teaching children second languages early on.
  3. The pros and cons of single gender classrooms.
  4. Is sex education the job of parents or of the school?
  5. The pros and cons of reduction of physical education hours in our current school system.
  6. The pros and cons of security cameras in schools.
  7. Pros and cons of a 4-day school week.
  8. Should parents pay students for good grades?
  9. The pros and cons of bilingual or dual language education.
  10. The pros and cons of wearing a uniform.
  11. The pros and cons of banning junk food in schools.
  12. Should sexual education be taught in high schools?
  13. The education a child receives at home from having parents who are positive role models is more important than the academic education a child receives at school. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

 

HEALTHY ISSUES

  1. Plastic surgery- vanity or need?
  2. Is vegetarianism a healthy diet?
  3. One of the largest parts of government expenditure is health. Some people argue that this money would be better spent on health education on the principle that prevention is better than cure. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

MORAL ISSUES

  1. Should parents be allowed to choose their child’s gender?
  2. Pros and cons of having exotic animals as home pets?
  3. Should advertising for plastic surgery be illegal?
  4. Should priests be celibate?
  5. What does everyone think about zoo animals? Is it a good or a bad thing?
  6. Does legal prostitution reduce crime?
  7. To what extent is the use of animals in scientific research acceptable? Discuss the pros and cons.
  8. Some people argue that the amount of violence shown in films and on television has led to an increase in violent crimes in society. Do you agree with this argument? Should the government control what is shown on television and in the cinema?
  9. Should rich countries forgive all debts for poor countries?

TECHNOLOGY

  1. The pros and cons of children under the age of 10 playing video games.
  2. The pros and cons of film, television, and music piracy.
  3. Should kids under the age of 13 have a phone?
  4. Advantages and disadvantages of digital spying on kids and teens.
  5. The pros and cons of owning an electric car.
  6. Have we become too dependent on technology? Discuss the pros and cons.
  7. Should students be allowed to have cell phones in elementary and high schools?
  8. Should we ban the sale of violent video games?
  9. Some people say that the Internet is making the world smaller by bringing people together. To what extent do you agree that the Internet is making it easier for people to communicate with one another?

SPORTS

  1. Should pro wrestling be considered a sport?
  2. Should sport hunting be banned?
  3. Many people want their country to hold the Olympics. Others believe that international sporting events bring more problems than benefits. Discuss both views and state your opinion.

FREE TIME

  1. In the future, we will have more and more leisure time as machines replace many of the tasks we do at home and work. Discuss the benefits this will bring and also the problem it will cause.
  2. It is said that travel broadens the mind. What can we learn by travelling to other countries? Should we first explore our own countries? Discuss.
  3. In many countries tourism is a major part of the economy, but it also causes environmental damage and ruins the places it exploits. It is argued that tourists should pay an additional tax to compensate for this damage. Do you agree?
  4. Should museums and art galleries be free of charge for the general public, or should a charge, even a voluntary charge, be levied for admittance? Discuss this issue, and give your opinion.

EMPLOYMENT

  1. Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty five hours?
  2. Most high level jobs are done by men. Should the government encourage a certain percentage of these jobs to be reserved for women?
  3. Should retirement be compulsory at 65 years of age?

 GLOBALISATION:

  1. Differences between countries become less evident each year. Nowadays, all over the world people share the same fashions, advertising, brands, eating habits and TV channels. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?
  2. Television has had a significant influence on the culture of many societies. To what extent would you say that television has positively or negatively affected the cultural development of your society?

HOUSING

  1. Some people like living in a house, while others prefer an apartment. Are there more advantages than disadvantages to living in a house rather than in an apartment?

FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIPS

  1. The pros and cons of gay marriage.
  2. Some parents choose not to have a television at home because of the influence on their children. Is this a good or a bad thing?
  3. Some people believe in the traditional idea that the woman’s place is in the home, while others say that idea is outdated and that women should play an increasingly important role in the workplace of the future. What is your opinion?
  4. People are now living longer than ever before and many old people are unable to look after themselves. Some people believe that it is the responsibility of families to look after the elderly, while others say governments should provide retirement homes for them where they can be looked after properly. Discuss.
  5. Are women better parents than men?
  6. If children behave badly, should their parents accept responsibility and also be punished?

Have you visited my writing section yet?

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Moving away from Traditional Homework

This is my suggestion for Christmas homework and the kind that if I were a student , I would love to be given.

1. Word Games. Do you have five minutes to spare? Find your level and choose from these 13 addictive games. Click here

2. Watching Series. Do you like watching series? Go to ororo.tv, choose the series you’d like to see and watch an episode every day on this site. I am suggesting series and not films ’cause I hope you’ll get hooked on the series . The only catch is that you can only see an episode a day on this site. Click here

3. Listen to music, but not any kind of music; for this exercise listen to ballads , which are easier to understand. Listen to a song and  concentrate on understanding the lyrics. Then, look up the lyrics online  and sing along. I suggest singers such as the mighty Adele, Ed Sheeran or James Blunt. If you live in Spain, you can listen to radio stations such as  Kiss FM.

Merry Christmas  and thanks for reading!

Ororo.tv a good alternative to just watching TV

Oh my gosh! I just love this website. I bumped into ororo.tv quite by chance and I was like ooohh it has this one and aahhh and also this one. And needless to say, I have spent the little free time I have had these days- I am still doing oral exams in the morning and marking written exams in the afternoon /evening, not to mention the cleaning and cooking stuff- having a nice laugh with the boys of the Big Bang Theory, which I highly recommend.
So, what can ororo.tv do to help you improve your English? What will you find on this website??? An amazing number of TV shows and films in their original versions and with subtitles in English. Right now, I am hooked on the Big Bang Theory, a American sitcom, about four young scientists, but surely you’ll find attractive alternatives here to suit every taste and mood.

Useful Posts to Revise for Finals

I have been meaning to give MentorMob a try for some time and I never got around to doing it but when my students asked me where to revise for finals, MentorMob flashed in my mind and I saw the light. ;).

This little tool  allows you to organise your favourite posts or websites into a playlist  in a very easy way  and then you can always share it and embed it in a blog or website. In this way you can easily organise videos, pdfs, documents, websites, articles….. into playlists and then  assign them to your students in the computer room, as homework or  in a flipped classroom setting .

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Modal Verbs of Obligation, Deduction and Possibility

Tired of always looking for exercises for different grammar points I have started putting together everything I need, related to a certain point of grammar on the same page.

Today I have uploaded Modal Verbs of Obligation (must/have to, mustn’t ), Possibility (may/might/could) and Deduction (must and can’t). I have gathered together Grammar and Exercises for a pre-intermedite level.

Hope it is as helpful to you as it is to me. Now, I can safely take them to the computer room, ask them to go to this url where they’ll find everything they need to work on. Very useful too, to do as homework or revise just before exams at their own pace.

Click here to start practising

Simple Present and Present Continuous: Grammar and Exercises

Tired of always looking for exercises for different grammar points I have started putting together everything I need, related to a certain point of grammar, on the same page.

Today I have uploaded two more: Present Simple and Present ContinuousTense. I have gathered together Grammar and Exercises .

Hope it is as helpful to you as it is to me. Now, I can safely take them to the computer room, ask them to go to this url where they’ll find everything they need to work on. Very useful too, to do as homework or revise just before exams at their own pace.

♥Click Present Simple and /or Present Continuous to start practising!!!

Conditional Sentences: grammar and exercises

Tired of always looking for exercises for different grammar points I have started putting together everything I need, related to a certain point of grammar, on the same page.

A good example is the one you see on the left about Conditional Sentences (Basic types). I have gathered together Grammar, exercises for each type, and then exercises for all of them mixed up.

Hope it is as helpful to you as it is to me. Now, I can safely take them to the computer room, ask them to go to this url where they’ll find everything they need to work on. Very useful too, to do as homework or revise just before exams at their own pace.

♥Click here if you need to practise your Conditional Sentences

♥Same for the Simple Past, here

Writing and Speaking Elementary : Describe a game

Of all the skills a student has to become fluent at when learning a language  writing is, for me, the most boring one. I don’t think it’s the hardest by any means, this prize is awarded to Speaking but the truth is that students find it boring and we, teachers, almost always put off marking essays for as long as we can.

On the other hand, I find that it’s much easier for students to write a worthy piece of writing  if you provide a model, some guidelines to follow and also give them a topic  they are mildly interested in .

Last week’s topic for composition was Writing about a Game. I asked students to think of a game or a sport and answer the following questions

What’s the name of the activity? ♥How many players are there? ♥ How does a player start the game?♥What do the players do then?

I also asked some students to record their work and this is what they did (I used a tool called Fotobabble. I wrote about Fotobabble here). Thank you folks, good job!
Lucia Gonzalez Hide n Seek


Alba Feito “Marbles”

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Carolina Macas The Handkerchief

David Díaz The Liar Dice

 

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