Category Archives: General

Lesson Plan: “What we learn with pleasure we never forget.”

I have to confess that I had to look up who Alfred Mercier, the owner of this quote, was. And I say “was” because although this inspirational poet was born at the beginning of the XIXc.,  he is very much in line with my way of thinking:  “what we learn with pleasure, we never forget”.

This has always been my aim: to teach trying to make my lessons memorable for my students. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. But I am always trying. Anyway, I really believe the first five minutes of the class, mark its rhythm and that the way you present the information to students is of the utmost importance.

This lesson for C1 students focuses on education. It offers practice in the following:

  • vocabulary
  • listening
  • speaking
  • reading
Warm-up: What's the weirdest thing your teacher has done?

So, let’s start with some fun. On the board, write the word Weird and drill pronunciation. Show them the gif for a bit of fun and display or read some of the tweets sent to Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag game #MyWeirdTeacher. Here’s the link.  I think my fav is Number 1. That’s the one I would give my students as an example.

Ask the question: What’s the weirdest thing your teacher has done?. Give them some thinking time and listen to their stories.

Revising vocabulary

For a student, learning new vocabulary can be a bit overwhelming so it’s always a good idea to tap into students’ knowledge. It really helps make learning new words much easier. The method or activity used to extract previous knowledge should differ from the one used to teach new content using more dynamic strategies to work with the former.

A simple activity could be giving students 1 minute to write down as many topic-related words as they can remember, emphasizing words such as “teacher” or ” primary school” are not adequate for this level and will be dismissed.  I will be using Mentimeter for this activity but feel free to use the familiar pen and paper. The prize for the winner? a round of applause- we are suffering cuts in the school budget 🙂

Speaking and Writing: Small activities

Change one thing: If I could change one thing about the past school year…

Six adjectives: use 6 adjectives to describe your last academic year

What advice would you give to someone who is beginning to learn English?

Listening: What makes a good teacher? What makes a good student?

Pre-listening:

a. Give students some thinking time to come up with their ideas of what, in their opinion, makes a good teacher. This is a good opportunity to introduce vocabulary they will find in the video.

b. At the same time, ask them to write 3 adjectives that a good teacher needs to possess.

Before playing the video,  ask students to read the three adjectives they have written. Play the video once and see whose choice of adjectives are on the video. Play a second and even a third time and ask students to take notes.

Tapescript, here

Repeat procedure for What makes a successful student?

Introducing new vocabulary collaboratively

Give them the list of new words and ask students to underline the words they already know. This is a good way to guarantee you are not going to be the only one doing the work here and they will be engaged throughout the activity. After a couple of minutes, go through the list asking individual students to provide definitions and give examples. Clarify and exemplify any real new words.

Get the PDF here

Drill the pronunciation of…

  • creativity
  • data
  • discipline
  • plagiarism
  • poem
Speaking Interactive Posters : thumbs up, thumbs down.

Present the students with the following statements, one at a time, and ask them to give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down to indicate whether they agree or disagree with the statement on display.

Once they have established where they stand, click on the interactive button on the poster, displaying suggested vocabulary they can use when presenting their point of view. Give them one minute to plan what they are going to say. Repeat procedure with all or some of the posters.

 

Further Practice. Homework

 

Keeping a Digital Journal to Prevent Students from Falling behind

Hey, dear readers! I am back! Who is up for the 12th season of the blog?

Normally I resume posting when classes start rolling, but this year  I  have decided to start posting earlier before my classes begin. I have missed you!  I will be returning to classes on October 7th and man, what a different class I will be returning to. Will it be teaching in-person, hybrid or online? That’s the one-million question.

I am a notorious hoarder of free edtech tools and it seems that the stress of going hybrid this year only drove this hobby of mine into high gear. I know technology is a sticking point for some teachers but, seriously, this year we need to make a special effort and start flirting with tech.

Anyway,  the pandemic, the possibility of doing hybrid or online teaching and an overwhelming curriculum got me thinking and I came up with the idea of sharing a  digital class journal with my students. The reason?  I might be wrong but I think that we are going to spend the year shifting from in-person classes and online classes. On and off, on and off -repeat. Moreover, even though we manage to teach in the classroom, I  predict our students will be undergoing confinement for one reason or another. Therefore, it is essential that they don’t fall behind and give up. One way to make sure this does not happen and to make things easier for us as teachers is to share our class journal with our students.

When I talk about Class Journal, I don’t mean my real class journal; not the one where I write warm-ups, follow-ups… etc. No. That would be a nightmare. I mean a very simple version; one that tells students in a very simple way what we have covered that day,

Advantages of sharing a Digital Class Journal
  • Information is updated (forget about sending endless emails to students who have missed your class. Yay!!!)
  • You can insert videos from youtube, audios from your Drive and links to anything that is online.

  • Everything is in the same place. No need to share links for extra activities; as long as it is online, it can be shared; they just have to click.
  • You can link to anything that is on your Google Drive: exam calendar, photocopies…etc.

It sounds good, doesn’t it? Right, now…

What do you need?
  1. A virtual class to share your class journal. I use Google Classroom, but you might prefer Teams or Moodle or any other. As I use Google Classroom, I am going to show you how I do it on this platform but I am sure you will find a way to do it in your virtual classroom of preference.
  2. The Class Journal. Don’t worry!!! You don’t have to do anything. SlidesMania.com has you covered. There are many websites that offer free templates for Google slides or PowerPoints but I worship at the altar of Slides Mania. ( btw, this is not a sponsored post) , Click here to get to the free Class Journal, and then find the button that reads  Open in Google Slides. Again, if you are not using Google Classroom, you might want to choose the button Download Powerpoint.
  3. I like to keep my Google Drive organized so once in my Drive, I will move this template to a Folder (previously created called School Year 20-21).
  4. On Google Classroom, on the Classwork Tab, I create a  Topic called Class Journal and then attach the class journal. See how I do it.

Bear in mind that every time you update the class journal on your Google Drive, it will automatically be updated on Google Classroom.

Hope this has been helpful and none of your students gives up this year.

 

Summer Break is Here. My Top Posts: Best of this Season

Is there anything better than taking a summer break? I think not. Problem is that there must be something wrong with me. I need to keep active and this year is going to be a tad complicated with all the restrictions we are facing right now.

As every year, I am going to take a break from publishing new posts. My classes have finished and we won’t resume them until October and this is when I will start publishing again. I really hope to see you all.  I must confess your comments and feedback is essential to me.

I am also working on a catalogue of  10 webinars to help teachers make the most of their online or blended teaching using online free tools to:

  • promote interaction in online lessons. Yes, we can do it and it is easy.
  • using whiteboards for effective learning
  • create original content. Why use what others have done when you can create your own?
  • create portfolios. Visual and collaborative.
  • assess skills. Really effective for formative or summative assessment.
  • create your own animated videos and tutorial. After all, this is what most students watch all day, isn’t it? Besides, it is easy and fun and quick.

Now, here is my top ten. Hope you enjoy them!!! See you  in a few months

My Top Posts- Best of this Season (2019/20)

How to use the Interactive WhiteBoard “Jamboard” for an Online Vocabulary Bingo

Interactive, engaging, effective and if possible, fun are the ingredients I want in every lesson. Even if it is online.

This low-tech activity is a marriage between any video conferencing platform and a whiteboard. t can be used as an end-of-term vocabulary revision or to revise the vocabulary of a single unit.

We are going to use two techs here:

  1. A video conference platform. As I have explained in previous posts, I am using the super-easy 8×8.vc video platform – I think they need to start paying me for all the free publicity- but any platform will do as long as it has a chatbox.
  2. A very easy to use interactive whiteboard: the famous Google whiteboard, JamBoard: easy, free and collaborative and….. with sticky notes. Yay!!!

Now that we have the perfect wedding, let’s start:

How to go about it:

Using the chat box in the video conference platform of your choice.

Step 1.  Ask students to type vocabulary they have learned in this unit (this course) into the chatbox. Allow several minutes for this step. Remind them to check their spelling before clicking the Send button.

Step 2.  Revise the meanings of the vocabulary they have written pointing out, at the same time, any spelling mistakes or typos they might have made.

Using the white interactive board Jamboard

Tell students you are going to play a bingo game and to do this, they are going to use a very cool tool called Jamboard.

Tell them you are going to assign each of them a different frame(slide) containing a bingo card. They should write their name on the frame in the space provided and this frame will become only theirs. They will need to choose 9 words from the chatbox and write them in the bingo squares of their bingo card.

Have a look at my Bingo Jamboard and make a copy if you want to use it. The instructions for the students to play this bingo game are on the second frame. This is a gif to show you an easy option to mark off squares

Watch this easy tutorial explaining how to use Jamboard and how to set up a bingo card game. Hope you and your students enjoy the activity!!!

Giving Students a Fun Challenging Written Assignment

So there’s mediation written assignments, then there’s creative mediation written assignments and then, there’s ANIMATED mediation written assignments.

Naturally I am a huge supporter of anything that involves using digital tools, and this activity is packed with digital tools; not only on my end, to create and present the assignment to my students but also on their end, to animate and share their creative animated task.

Here’s what we’re working with:

  • I have used: Google slides, Genial.ly, the Google chrome extension Bitmoji
  • Students will have to use: Render Forest and then share their animate videos on a Padlet.

The activity is explained in the Genial.ly below.

Note: click on the arrows, on the bottom right corner of the Genial.ly, for a better experience. 🙂