Oral Exams: Two Activities to Revise all the Topics in a Single Lesson

I know precisely what you are looking for because I guess,  we are all in the same boat: approaching finals, a plethora of topics to revise and juggling work and life. These two activities might come in handy now that you, like me, need to help students  1. revise the vocabulary for all of the topics covered during the course and 2. provide the means to use this vocabulary in spoken interactions or monologues. And this, in a single lesson. Granted it is a two-hour session, but still a feat.

What’s the aim?

  • to develop their communicative skills by asking and answering questions  about different topics
  • to compose a short speech on a topic of choice
  • to revise the specific vocabulary learnt for these topics

ACTIVITY ONE: Throwing the Dice. Revising Vocabulary. Asking the questions.

What you need:

  • slips of paper
  • sticky notes or, alternatively, scraps of paper and cellotape.
  • a dice or a virtual dice (here)

On the walls of the class, put up slips of paper with the various themes you wish to review: work, sports, education, leisure time activities…etc.

Step 1. Revising Vocabulary

  1. Put students into pairs or groups. You’ll need as many pairs/ groups as there are topics you’ll be revising.
  2. Assign each pair/group a topic and ask them to write down all the vocabulary/expressions…etc they have learnt related to their assigned topic. Have them name a secretary who will be in charge of writing the vocabulary on a clean sheet of paper and trying to write in legible handwriting.
  3. Give them some cellotape or blue-tack and instruct them to tape/stick the vocabulary on the wall,  next to the topic they have been assigned.

 

Step 2. Throwing the dice. Writing the questions

1. Assign to each number on the dice a wh-word and write it on the board. For ex:

  1. why
  2. where
  3. when
  4.  what
  5. how
  6. who

2. Now, roll the dice and ask pairs/groups to choose a topic and write a question beginning with the wh ( for example if the number is 4, they will need to write a question beginning with “what”) and related to the topic they have chosen. Make sure pairs/groups choose different topics. Encourage students to write interesting questions or questions that can generate conversation.

Ex: the topic is Crime and the number is 4; the question might be something like :

What are the most common crimes in your town?

3. Once they have written the question, ask them to post it next to the topic the topic it pertains to.

4. Throw the dice again and repeat procedure only, this time, groups must necessarily choose a different topic. Again, make sure all topics are covered. Hopefully, when you roll the dice, it will show a different number. If it is the same number( say number 4 as in the example), throw it again, you want a different Wh- question.

How many questions do I think would be more than enough for each topic? I would suggest 3 questions/topic

Step 3. Gallery Walk

Gallery walk: Once you have at least 2 or 3 questions per topic, ask students to stand up in their groups and stand next to a topic and together read the vocabulary for the topic they will next to it.  Then, have them read the questions and discuss them. Allow about 10 minutes per poster and then ask them to move clockwise to the next topic. Repeat procedure.

ACTIVITY TWO: Tearable topics. Beautiful template

It is not the first time I have used a tearable activity- if I may call it like this-, but it is the first time that I have used Meredithakers’s template. I saw her design and I thought ” I need to use it”. So cute. Have a look at her design here and if you don’t read her, I highly recommend it.

NOTE: This activity follows the first one where students have already had the opportunity to revise vocabulary. If you choose to do only this activity, give students some time to revise the vocabulary they will need to give a great speech.

Before the class: Edit a copy of my/her template and write your own content. My template here

Cut a line between words but don’t cut them all the way so that the slip of paper doesn’t detach. I guess a copy will be enough if you have a class of 24 students or less.

Divide the class into groups of 5-6 people. You can easily create 4 groups of 5-6 people as there are 24 tearable strips of paper. Topics might be repeated, just make sure they are not repeated within the group. In fact, for easier identification, you can divide the class into 4 groups and assign a colour to each group. They can only tear off a topic highlighted in their assigned colour.

Give them about 5 minutes to prepare their monologue encouraging the use of vocabulary and grammar.

Isn’t it a beautiful template? I told you! Thanks @meredith

Using Flippity to Randomly Pair or Group Students

Very often, I share on my Twitter feed (@blogdecristina) bits and pieces of what I do with my students during the week. There’s nothing aspirational about these tweets. It’s just a few words about a little tool I have tried, a photograph of a moment in my class, an attempt at pairing students in a different way. I don’t write a post about them because they are really low effort, but they work.

Having a look at my tweets has also led me to realize that there are some tools I use fairly often and never mention here, such as this tool: Flippity.

I won’t claim to know all the edtools out there, but I know and work with lots, and my gut feeling is that although there are some good randomizers, not many compare to Flippity when it comes to forming random pairs or groups. And for free.

So, what’s Flippity?

In most games, Flippity uses Google sheets, so it goes without saying you have to have a Google account. Then, easy, you choose the game and follow the instructions to turn a Google sheet into flipcard, a quiz show, a randomizer, a board game or a bingo to name just a few of the resources it can create.

Today, I want to share with you one of the many ways to work with Flippity; in this case, forming groups in the class. Because aren’t you tired of students always sitting next to the same partner? So, let’s pair them up or let’s group students in a different way in our next class. Surprise your students by working the magic of Flipitty. How?

  • Go to Flippity ( hahaha, obviously) and choose Random Name Picker.
  • Click on Instructions
  • Write or Copy/Paste the list of students
  • Click on Generate
  • Done!. Choose from the top what you want to do with the list: pair them up or perhaps create groups of 4 students?

 

And just because I love making videos, here’s one about how to do it from scratch

 

2 Engaging Activities to Work with Reporting Verbs

I have to confess that lately I haven’t had much time to publish. I design a lot of cool, if I may say so, activities for my students but posting about them takes time, time I lack right now. But posting is constantly on my mind, and not because I feel I have to do it, but because it makes me happy. So, today is a happy day.

Now, these are two activities I have designed for my C1 students. If C1 is not your level, keep on reading; they are highly adaptable to any level.

  1. Working on the grammar of reporting verbs
  2. Using post-it notes to reinforce and fix mistakes
One. Working on the grammar of reporting verbs
Helping students learn this point of grammar is not an easy task. OMG, they are so many reporting verbs….!!! Plus, some of them can be followed by more than one pattern. A nightmare!!!
STEP 1. The presentation
Even though it is a C1 level,  I felt compelled to explain what a reporting verb is with a small presentation.
For this introduction, I’ve used the first 6 slides. I have used the rest of the presentation to explain the game that follows.

This is the infographic that I have designed. Please, bear in mind:
1. It is not meant to be comprehensive
2. Verbs can follow different patterns
You can get it here

reporting verbs by cristina.cabal

Step 2: Using double-sided cards. Now that we have seen the grammar, let’s put it into practice. You can download the cards here

  • Aim: to place the verbs under the right pattern
  • Before the class: photocopy one set per group of three/four students. In my case, I have photocopied them in different colours.  Also, photocopy the headings with the verb patterns here.

I think the images below clearly demonstrate how we have played this “game”.

Instructions: put students into groups of three and give each group a set of double-sided cards. (you might want to fold them before the game or ask students to fold them; whatever works for you) The aim of the activity is to place the verb on the card under the right column.

First, they guess the pattern and then, before placing it under the right column, they check their guess by turning the card over.

I did it twice:

  1. They just guessed the pattern and placed it under the right column
  2. They did the same as in 1 but, this time,  they also produced a sentence containing the prompts on the card.

Below, students working

Students checking their guess is correct by flipping the card.

 

Two. Using post-it notes to reinforce and fix mistakes
This activity using post-it notes is dedicated to  Maribel, a teacher in Andalucía (I will say no more as I haven’t asked her permission ) who, when we met in person in a teacher training session, gave me a most useful present, a box with 1440 colourful post-it notes (an easy multiplication) + a letter I will always cherish.
The activity is a simple,highly-adaptable one and one that can be done in many different ways (you don’t have to use post-it notes- any discarded scrap of paper will do). I just happen to think that presentation matters and colours and movement is an added bonus in this activity.
Step 1. Writing a reporting verb on a post-it note
Ask students to write on a post-it note a reporting verb. Encourage them to have a look at the infographic (pdf above)and instruct them to make sure they know the grammar of the verb they have written.
Note: If you have a large class, put the students in pairs. You don’t want to have as many as 25 reporting verbs to work with. If you have a 6- 12 student class, you might want to ask them to work individually.
Stick their post-it notes on the walls of the class.
Step 2. Gallery walk. Writing sentences.
On a table in the middle of the class, leave some post-it notes -(a) different colour(s) would be great.
Put students in pairs now and ask them to stand up and do a gallery walk. They will stop at each “picture’ and in pairs write down a sentence containing the reporting verb. They should write the sentences on the post-it notes and put them next to the ‘picture’ it corresponds to. Encourage them to write only when they know exactly what they want to write. Otherwise, it would look very untidy. Also, tell them they need to write a sentence showing they are C1 students (you know how it goes if you don’t push them a tiny bit)
Pairs don’t have to walk clockwise; they can choose any ‘pictures’ on the walls in any order but they must do all of them.
Step 3. Peer correction.
Once they have written their sentences, instruct students to move to the post-it containing their original reporting verb; the one in Step 1, the one they know the grammar for.  Ask them to read the sentences next to their verb
– If they are correct, they should put a tick
– If they are wrong, they should underline the mistake but not correct it
Step 4: Fixing mistakes
Ask students to stand up again, the infographic containing the grammar for those verbs in their hands,  and again do a gallery walk. They should read all the sentences surrounding a “picture’. If their sentence happens to be one of those containing mistakes, they will have to correct it using the infographic as a reference.
Step 5: My turn
Now, it is my turn to make sure, as a teacher, that all the sentences are correct. I have also added my opinion on whether the sentence is a C1-level sentence or a B2-level sentence to encourage them to try harder next time. 🙂
I hope you have enjoyed the activity.

Lesson Plan: The Hunt for News

It’s been years since  I last discussed the media and its role in our society in my classes. I don’t really think much has changed since the last time I explored this topic in class.

  • I feel we are still being manipulated by the media
  • I still feel we are, in most cases, misinformed
  • I still feel that the press is controlled by the same networks of people that run everything else
  • I still feel the information we receive is biased and based on speculation rather than hard facts.

But this lesson is meant to be focused on the paparazzi and their work chasing celebrities or famous people. We will discuss the very serious damage that the paparazzi and tabloid media can cause when they constantly invade people’s privacy. We will discuss whether the paparazzi are to blame for some unfortunate events and whether stricter laws should be enforced. We will study vocabulary relevant to this topic and read real examples where the right to have a private life will be discussed. Are you ready?

Step 1: a stirrer.
  1. Ask students: Have you ever met someone famous?

Telling an anecdote about yourself never fails to engage students. It’s only fair that if you are asking them to talk about themselves, you do the same.

2. On the board, write the question below and ask students to briefly comment on this.

 Want fame? Kiss your privacy goodbye! 

Step 2 . Introducing vocabulary

Every time I revise or introduce vocabulary in my classes, I make a point of reminding my students that they need to study the vocabulary in chunks. There is no point in studying the verb “apply” if they don’t know the preposition it collocates with.  The next activity is a good one to remind students of this necessity.

  • Give students two minutes to write all the vocabulary they know related to The media.
  • On the board, write a circle with the word The Media inside. Do a mind-map with all the vocabulary students provide.
  • Drill pronunciation and then do a quick translation exercise to consolidate meaning and pronunciation.

Introduce new vocabulary.

  • To follow a lead
  • paparazzo/paparazzi/amateur paps
  • revulsion/respect for their profession
  • a tip-off/to tip off the paparazzi
  • to gather news
  • to spot a celebrity
  • agency/ˈeɪ.dʒən.si/
  • news outlets
  • news coverage
  • exclusive /ɪkˈskluː.sɪv/
  • a major scoop
  • click-bait story
  • photojournalism
  • tabloid journalism and sensasionalism /senˈseɪ.ʃən.əl.ɪ.zəm/
  • to censor/impose strict censorship /ˈsen.sə.ʃɪp/
  • Celebrity scandals
  • sensational news
  • To harass foreign journalists UK /ˈhær.əs/ AmE /həˈræs/
  • to stalk a celebrity /stɔːk/
  • to pursue or chase celebrities /pəˈsjuː/
  • to catch up on the news
  • to leak to the press
  • to tackle misinformation
  • invasion of privacy /ɪnˈveɪ.ʒən/ /ˈprɪv.ə.si/
  • untrustworthy/reliable sources /ʌnˈtrʌstˌwɜː.ði/
  • accuracy of the reports
  • unverified information
  • biased/unbiased
  • to be in the limelight
  • to be highly sought-after /ˈsɔːt ˌɑːf.tər/

You can follow the rest of the lesson plan using the presentation below. I hope you enjoy it!

The Hunt for News

In case you are looking for debatable or persuasive topics about the media, here you have some.

A Vocabulary Bingo Game with a Touch of Tech

Honestly,  not sure if there is anything more fun than turning a classic bingo into a language bingo. Ok, ok, rereading the sentence it is fair to question my fun scale. But I can assure you that it is going to keep your students engaged. That much I can promise.

Playing bingo in my classes is a classic. Not only the usual grid with numbers. The grid can contain pretty much everything and be used to revise almost all skills.

But today, it is going to be a vocabulary bingo with a touch of tech

This activity has two steps:

  1. Building the Word Cloud ( traditionally on the board or, in my case, using the free app Wooclap) https://www.wooclap.com/
  2. Playing Bingo
STEP 1.  Building the wordcloud.

This is a retrieval practice activity where students, using their mobile phones, revise vocabulary taught in previous lessons. In my case, I am teaching The Media and we played bingo with vocabulary from the newspapers and the media.

How to set the activity on Wooclap. Very easy!

  1. Go to Wooclap and register.
  2. Click on Create new event.
  3. Choose WordCloud and click Start Now.
  4. Share the link, the code or the QR Code with your students and Bob’s your uncle.

This video might help you follow these steps

Once the wordcloud is built, revise again pronunciation, form and meaning

And just because I like to play with tools, I have designed my own word cloud on a different tool just because I like the way words are highlighted. Click on the image to see it in action.

Step 2. Playing Bingo

Here we go!!!

One. Have students draw a grid on their notebooks: 3×2 ( 6 words) will work just fine. There should be significantly more words than squares in the bingo card. Ask them to choose any six words from the cloud and fill in the bingo squares.

The idea is to randomly give definitions for the words in the cloud. As students match definitions and words in their bingo, they cross them off. Bingo is shouted when all the squares have been crossed.

Note: Although you might think that everyone knows how to play bingo, trust me when I say several of my students had no idea how to play. So, explain that their goal is to cross all the squares in their grid before anyone else.

Two. How to play

This can be done in two different ways. One requires no preparation, the other one requires a little preparation. If you know me, I am sure you have guessed the one that I favour.

No preparation: randomly define the words in the cloud. I’d suggest keeping a record of the ones you have already done so as not to repeat the same definition twice. It can happen. Trust me.

Preparation: More fun. More drama. More everything.

  1. Write the words in the cloud on small strips of paper.
  2. Search your house for a  suitable bag and put the strips of paper in it. Draw a strip of paper at a time and give a definition for the word. You might need to repeat the definition twice. As students listen to the definition, they have a look at their grids. If they have a word matching the definition, they cross it off. The game continues until someone shouts bingo.
  3. Don’t forget to build suspense. It adds to the game.

A simple but very effective game.

Follow-up: 

  1. Ask a question or several and give students a strip of paper or several. When answering the question, they should try to use the word(s) on their strips.

How do you get the news in your country? Has the way of keeping up to date changed over the years?

Repeat procedure with as many questions as you want students to answer. Ask them to swap their words so that they get new ones.

2. In the next class, I am planning to play bingo again. Same steps but with a twist. This time, the students will draw the slips of paper from the bag and they will be asked to provide the definition.

Inspired by Serena’s blog choice of words.  Here you can revise taking her quiz.