Monthly Archives: November 2023

Tic Tac TALK with a Fun Twist

Today, I am sharing  with you an activity that’s as fun, as it is effective. Drumroll, please… introducing Tic Tac Talk with a Fun Twist!

Picture this: the traditional Tic Tac Toe grid is on the board and each square contains a conversation question related to the lesson or topic at hand; in my case, it was questions related to personal identity. If you pay attention to the picture  of my board, you will see another difference; instead of the traditional 9-square grid, I designed a 12-square grid. More questions. More talk. More fun.

Another difference? They play in teams. Two teams: Xs and Os. And everybody talks here.


How to go about it. Let’s pretend Os start.
  • Pair up students; let’s say Student A chooses O and Student B,  X. From now on, they will be called Os and Xs
  • Display the grid with the overhead projector. Less paper, more trees.
  • Ask a representative of Os to choose a square and read the question aloud.
  • Tell Os they have 90 seconds to talk to their buddy X answering the question. Encourage students to use target vocabulary. What do Xs do? They listen. Not for long. Soon, it will be their turn to speak.
  • Monitor the time and signal when the time’s up.
How  Os win the Square

  • The teacher chooses a random O as representative of their team. (a different one each time, of course)
  • To win the square containing the question they have just answered, this representative will have to speak for 45 seconds, trying to deliver a continuous articulate monologue without repeating himself. If they manage to do so, their team, ie, Os, will have their icon written on the square but if they make pauses, repeat information or talk nonsense then the teacher, will a lot of drama and an apologetic face, will not grant them the desired square.
Now, it is Xs’ turn.
Who wins?

The rules for the traditional Tic Tac Toe apply here, too.  Players take turns placing their “X” or “O”. The goal is to be the first to make a row of three of your marks, either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. If all the boxes are filled up and no one has three in a row, it’s a tie. Needless to say, players can strategize to prevent the other players from getting three in a row, which adds to the fun.

How did I mark the Xs and the Os?

Remember that the grid is displayed on the board. I played the game with two different classes. In one of them, I had a digital board, so it was fun to draw the Os and Xs in different colours. In the other one, I used different coloured sticky notes. It was a colourful display and brightened up the whole board.

Here’s the grid with the questions I displayed in class

Tic Tac Talk by cristina.cabal

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The Great Silence Breaker Silly Challenge: Can my Students Talk about a Simple Object for 2 Minutes?

Fun, quick and an opportunity to challenge your students.

As a teacher, and especially at the beginning of the course, I often find myself in situations where I’d love to hear my students talk for just two short minutes on a given topic. But, I ask a thought-provoking question and some students seem to be unable to come up with more than two sentences.  Now, I’m not asking for a Shakespearean soliloquy or a TED Talk-worthy speech, I am just asking to answer a juicy question with more than a simple couple of sentences.

And so, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands. It’s time to launch the “Great Silence Breaker Challenge.” This challenge is straightforward yet entertaining. My students have been issued the following decree: talk non-stop for about two minutes on a simple, everyday object. Sounds easy, right?

The beauty of this exercise is that it pushes my students to be creative, think on their feet, resourceful, and yes, a little bit absurd. The idea behind this silly speaking task is that after asking them to talk about a simple spoon, pencil box …etc for about 120 seconds, they will realize how easier it is to answer a question such as” Do you think cars should be banned in the city centre?” which is “slightly” more thought-provoking.

So, here’s the activity.

  •  Put the students into pairs (student A and student B).
  • Ask a representative of Student As to choose a box.
  • Display a timer and ask all Student As to talk about whatever the box contains for 2 minutes. If they manage to talk non-stop without awkward silences, they will get a point.
  • Repeat procedure with Student Bs.

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