Category Archives: General

Name 4: a Game to Energize the first 10 Minutes of your Class

I write a lot about games on this blog but the truth is that there are many days when all we do in class is course book related. It is easy to fall prey to the monotonous rhythm of the book and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it; but I never get a kick out of doing the exercises the book suggests and I might be wrong, but I don’t think the students do either. And I, for a start, need this kick to keep me going.

So, from time to time, I like to give them games that will not only engage them but also help them fix previously studied content in an attractive way.

The game I am sharing with you today is called NAME 4, and the aim is to revise content studied in this course and mix it with some easy bits and bobs from previous courses.

I have created the game in Genial.ly. If you don’t want to create your own, you can easily edit mine and write your own categories. Also, in each slide I have placed a countdown timer. The time allotted for each category varies. If you need to modify the time, you can  find numerous countdown timers on YouTube; you just need to write “X seconds countdown”in the search box.

I have used the same template for C1 and B2, slightly varying the categories.

All the instructions to play the game are on the second slide. We had great fun so I really encourage you to give it a go.

GAME FOR C1 STUDENTS. Click on the three dots … to enlarge the presentation

GAME FOR B2 STUDENTS.Click on the three dots … to enlarge the presentation

Free Website to Create your Own Multidecker Cards to Learn/Revise Vocabulary

One of my biggest goals when I started posting, was to have a virtual space where I could share free websites or apps that helped me teach better and more effectively by offering my students an alternative to the predictable, and less varied, exercises in the textbooks.

If you have been a regular visitor of this blog, you might have guessed by now the importance I place on reinforcing and revising content. I have always found students learn much more when prompted to remember, even when they can’t.

This website I am sharing with you today is meant for that, to help students revise and learn. It is multidecker app, meaning that you can have as many as 4 different categories.  For example:

  • you can write cards ( for ex. blooper on one side of the card and on the other side its definition )  and then test yourself with the options I know or Not Yet.
  • You can have two options of your choice; for example regular and irregular verbs
  • Once in, you can have 3 options; for example when working with nouns, countable, uncountable and both.
  • And you can have four options; for example four lexical categories.

See here a 3-decker example for prepositions of time.

So, this super simple website works like this:

  1. The first amazing thing is that you don’t even have to sign up to use the already created decks  in the library. Check it out here. Just choose one, click play, and off you go!
  2. But… if you want to create your sets, then you have to sign up. Don’t worry, as I said it’s free.
  3. You can use the search box to find what you are looking for and if you like a deck, just click on the heart and you will find them stored in your Favourites.

 

Let’s see how to create your own deck. I have made a video to help you go about it but, trust me, it is a piece of cake.

First, go to multidecker.com/ and sign up.

Time to share the link or play in class and… enjoy learning, enjoy teaching!!!

 

Quiz: Love is in the Air

Not a big fan here of St Valentine’s day, but… it is not about the day, it is about the language that comes with the day. So, very quickly I have put together a small quiz to teach/revise some expressions, idioms and phrasal verbs related to love and friendship, well… mostly about love.

Before the quiz, we will have some fun doing a listening comprehension on St Valentine’s using Edpuzzle (Go Live mode) and after doing the quiz, we will answer the questions below, in pairs. Please, bear in mind I teach adults.

1. Would you rather find out that your partner cheated on you while drunk once, but it doesn’t mean anything and will never do it again or never learn the truth about it?

2. Would you rather marry a funny person who was always poor or a boring person who was very rich?

3. Would you rather never have a best friend but have a long and happy marriage or never get married but have the closest and strongest friendships ever?  Questions from buzzfeed.com

And here’s the quiz. Enjoy it!!

Note of warning: This free website for making quizzes only allows 250 visits/month for free. So, if you get here and cannot see the quiz, I apologize in advance. Please, come back next month or on second thoughts, next St Valentine’s to do it.

Digital Gallery Walks with QR Codes for Creative Writing

Before this pandemic started, way back in January 2020, I created lots of activities where students had to stand up and move around the class. These activities were SO engaging, perhaps even more than playing a game with bells or any other prop I am so keen on using in my classes.

The majority of the questions I get asked via email or on the blog are from teachers asking me to share ideas that can somehow substitute this “moving around” the class. It is not easy. So far, I have found nothing that can substitute movement in class; we can only try out different activities and alternatives and hope for the best.

 

One of my favourite activities is  Gallery Walks. Sadly, we will have to do without traditional gallery walks for a while but, if you have read my previous post, you will have read about a nice alternative. Yes. Virtual. So, hi and hello and welcome to a new era: Digital Gallery Walks. And this time, with a task that I have pompously titled Gallery Walks with QR Codes for Creative Writing.

QR Codes? Why not? We’re all pretty familiar with QR Codes nowadays, aren’t we? Even my 80-year-old mum has a QR Reader on her mobile phone. So, nobody is going to be telling you they cannot do the task because they don’t have a QR Reader installed in their mobiles.

So, ready? Let’s dive into the task! What’s the idea and what’s the final product?

The idea is that students, with the same story starter and in a semi-guided activity, write different stories using only 4 posters. How? by doing a virtual gallery walk using QR codes while, at the time, prompting them to use picture-prompted vocabulary, grammar, connectors and linkers. That is, the whole package!

Aims:

  • to write a mystery story (or any other genre)
  • to boost students’ writing skills
  • to stimulate students’ creativity
  • to encourage the use of connectors
  • to “force” them to use a variety of newly-acquired grammar structures

A step-by-step guide to designing the activity

Step 1: Creating the posters

The first step is to design the posters. For my activity, I designed  4 different posters containing, each of them,  a collage with 4 pictures, a couple of connectors or linkers and some grammar. I used Canva to create my posters.

Step 2. Creating the QR Codes

The next step is creating the QR Codes for each of the posters. I have used QR Code Monkey for this activity because it allows you to insert a number inside the QR Code and for this activity, I needed to number the Codes. To create a code, you just need to paste the URL of your posters and get the QR Code. You can see the QRCodes for my posters below. Wanna try if they work? Open your QR Reader and scan them!

Next, photocopy the QR Codes and stick the 4 QR Codes to the deks with sellotape or, alternatively, give students a photocopy with the task.

Step 3: Explaining the activity

Desks in my class are now arranged in rows. There are 4 rows. I called the first row: student A; the second row, student B …etc

I gave all students the same story starter and instructed Student As to scan QR Code 1; Student Bs QR Code 2; Student Cs,  QR Code 3, and Students Ds, QR Code 4. I explained that they needed to continue the story using one or more pictures from the poster; at least a connector or linker and the grammar point.

I gave students about 5 minutes to continue the story and then we “gallery walked” to the next poster. This means that I told As to scan QR code number 2; Bs QR code number 3; Cs QR code number 4 and Ds QR code number 1.

Repeat procedure every 5 minutes until students have used all 4 posters.

Step 4:  Giving feedback

I collected all the stories and corrected the most important mistakes. While students were busy doing another activity, I put their stories on the walls outside the class so that they could read some of the stories on their way out of the building.

Download my activity here

Digital Gallery Walks to Boost Speaking Skills

At this time of the year, after students have received their first marks and we go back to normal lessons, I rack my brains trying to find an activity that will get them back into the mood of focusing on learning, and not so much on exams and their results.

I like to make sure I have a fun activity up my sleeve for these first days and one of my absolute favourites is Gallery Walks, in all its variations. I love asking my students to move around, change partners, and seeing their smiles when doing the exercise. I love the hustle and bustle of my classes when students are doing the gallery walk and talking at the top of their voices while commenting on a poster or complaining about how difficult it is to use one or other expression. I love their complaints; I love their smiles and their aha moments when they have managed to squeeze in a term I have suggested. I think I feel nostalgic.

Sadly, movement during lessons is not an option now due to the pandemic. But wait… “If the mountain won’t go to Mohammed, then Mohammed must come to the mountain”

And this is what I have done, a digital Gallery Walk.  I have used Google slides to design a fake museum and I have shared the presentation (Present Mode) with my students.

Have I managed to pique your interest? Then, have a look at my presentation featuring a museum  here.

On a side note, if you don’t know how to share your Google slides in presentation mode, I have you covered. Have a look at this video (0:36). It is really very easy and for this activity, it makes a real difference.

PROCEDURE

In class- or break out rooms-, I have asked students to take out their mobile phones and shared the link for the presentation, using an URL shortener. In my case, bit.ly bit.ly/3oO4PfW

I have asked students to work in pairs or groups of three and instructed each group to start on a different slide. Students read the question on the poster and  I give them 1-2 minutes thinking time before they start talking within their groups. I have also included some lexical prompts to “force” them to use new vocabulary.

For example Group 1, slide 1; Group 2, slide 2; Group 3, slide 3 and Group 4, slide 4.

 After 5-7 minutes talking, I have asked groups to move to the next slide, ie, Group 1, slide 2; Group 2, slide 3 and so on.

You can get a copy of the Digital Gallery Walk here

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