Tag Archives: A2

Flipping Students: a Collaborative Project  with other EEOOII Using Flipgrid

It’ s April and temperatures should have risen but I am writing this post while outside it is freezing cold and raining. I guess this is the downside of living in the north of Spain!

I know this not the perfect time to share this activity as we are all heading for final exams,  and I certainly don’t expect any teachers to email me right away suggesting a collaboration for the next month, but I do hope you do not forget this post and that the next school year we can find a way to collaborate and join our classes.

Some ideas that prompted this activity:
  • To encourage autonomous learning: to find new ways of learning and offer more opportunities for students to do more oral practice in a safe environment outside the walls of the classroom.
  • To encourage the use of effective technology. For this project, we used Flipgrid.
  • To demonstrate how anybody can use technology as long as you explain and model how to do it. Some of the students in this project are older than 70.
  • To collaborate: To spice up the activity by having students from other regions and countries collaborate with my class.
Tool used: Flipgrid. 

Flipgrid is a powerful reliable website owned by Microsoft. It is 100% free. It is a fantastic platform for collecting video responses to prompts that you pose to your students.

Why do I like it?

  • Students can improve their speaking ability from their homes, repeating their performances as often as they like. Stress-free.
  • Teachers can listen and send written or video feedback via email if they wish.
  • Students don’t need an email address, which is perfect for younger students.
  • Students record or upload a video and they can pause while recording, trim their videos and add more time or just delete it and start all over again.
  • Recording time goes from 15 seconds to 5 minutes.
  • They can reply to each other’s videos.
  • Educators are 100% in control with video moderation, access controls, etc
  • You can easily connect your class with other classes, not only in your country but also all around the world using the GridPal feature. There are thousands of educators willing to connect.
  • Flipgrid works on computers, laptops or any mobile device. If you use a mobile device to make your video, as my students did, you’ll need to download the free app.

The Project: Steps followed

1.Finding teachers from other schools willing to collaborate

That was the first step. I needed 3 teachers from 3 different regions who had some knowledge of how Flipgrid worked. To be honest, I didn’t feel like sending tons of emails to the different schools asking for collaboration. I thought it would be time-consuming and probably ineffective.  Besides, I  am very active on Facebook and Twitter and I thought it was the fastest way to find potential collaborators. And Bingo! In just one week I  had my 3 teachers: Purva Bachani from EOI Guía (Sta María de Guía- Las Palmas(Gran Canaria),  Marisa Rodríguez from EOI San Roque (San Roque-Cadiz) and Silvia Oslé from EOI Torrelavega  (Torrelavega-Cantabria). We have never seen each other, but we share the same passion: teaching. We created a Whatsapp group to speed up the process of setting up the project.

2. Setting up the Grid and the Topic

I created the common grid (class) and using the Grid Actions Button selected Add Copilots. Then, I added Marisa’s, Purva’s and Silvia’s emails and sent them an invitation.  From that moment, they had all the permissions to edit and add topics, but they could not delete the Grid (class)or the Topic I had previously created.

3. Setting up the activity

As it was the beginning of the course, we decided to do two activities (explained below), trying to maximize as much as possible the interactive part. Once the topic has been created, Flipgrid generates a code that you share with your students. This code and a Google or Microsoft email account is all they need.

(What you see below is the Topic with the 2 tasks. The Grid (class) is called Flipping EOI Students)

Task 1. A get-to-know-you activity. We didn’t want the questions to be the usual where-do-you-live or what-is-your-favourite-food. A bit of research on the Internet and again Bingo! We found the perfect inspiration in the videos “73 Questions with…” where Vogue interviews popular celebrities and asks them some rapid-fire questions to get to know them. The questions are good and we thought our students could either write their own questions or practise listening comprehension and choose the ones they liked best. These were the 2 links we provided: Selena Gómez and Emma Stone 

We gave students about a week to record their first video introducing themselves, saying which school they were studying in and their chosen get-to-know-you question.

Task 2. They had to choose 3 students from different EEO0II and answer their questions. We asked them to talk for about 1 minute elaborating on their answers as one of the aims of the activity was to practise listening and speaking. To help students and show them how to respond to each other, I recorded a  short video tutorial.

This second task took longer than the first as they had to record three videos answering to three students. Lots of speaking here, preceded by lots of rehearsing= lots of learning.

Note: although at first, it took a bit of convincing, very soon they were really into the project and some students went as far as to record themselves showing some landmarks of their cities and some even dressed up using hats and fake moustaches or wigs.

The surprise. As a surprise for the students, and again using social media sites, we asked for collaboration from native speakers and managed to convince a bunch of them to do task 2 as if they were students, too.  It was a nice gift for them and a way to say thank you for being such nice sports. Here I want to thank people at Flipgrid headquarters for being so supportive and agreeing to collaborate straightaway. ( thanks George, Rayna, Ann, Karen, Joseph, Kathrina and so many others).  I am proud to be a Flipgrid Ambassador.

(below is a picture of some of the students that collaborated in this project. I have erased their names. The people in the bubbles are the students answering this specific student)

Follow-Up Activities:

Using our private Whatsapp group, we brainstormed post-project activities. These are some of the ones we did.

  • Mixtapes: A Flipgrid feature that allows you to combine videos from different grids. We created one of these MixTapes using the native speakers’ recordings, playing some of them in class and asking students to first identify the get-to-know-you question and then summarize the answer.
  • Another idea was to ask students to work in groups of 3 or 4, play a get-to-know-you question and ask them to answer it within their groups. Then, play the answers to the question and give a point to the students whose answers coincide with those on the videos.
The activity in numbers

351 videos recorded, 15,663 views and 89.7 hours of recorded time.

I think I can say that without a shadow of a doubt that we have passed this first collaborative activity with flying colours. Thanks Silvia, Purva and Marisa.  I could not have done it without you.

 

Human Tac Toe to Revise Vocabulary

Shall I say Happy Christmas? When is the right time to start saying happy Christmas? Anyway,  I love that we are right in the hustle and bustle of the season. Everybody seems to be in a good mood and this is the perfect time to try a game I have been looking forward to doing with my students.

I know I post about games quite a bit, but I really believe students learn better when they are having fun.  Mark the word “learn” because playing without learning is a waste of time in my class. So, my students already know that after the game, there is going to be revising and reinforcing.

 

 

If you have been kind enough to be reading this blog for a time, you probably know I love Ellen DeGeneres’s games and I am always looking for a way to adjust them to my own context of teaching.

This is Ellen’s interpretation of the game  Tic Tac Toe (more info here). She calls it Hunk Tac Toe and you’ll just have to watch the video below to understand why she called it Hunk Tac Toe 🙂

After watching her more appealing version, you’ll read my own version. More humble and less visually appealing, but hey, we are trying to learn English here, aren’t we?

 

 

I have designed two variations of the game. One is funnier than the other. The funnier one requires more preparation but trust me when I say it pays off.

Preparation for both versions:

1. You will need to prepare a set of questions to revise the target vocabulary.

Ask simple questions of the type:

  • What do you call the person who…?
  • What’s the opposite of…?
  • Fill in the gap in this sentence….
  • How do you pronounce…?
  • How do you spell…?

2. In both versions, you’ll need to choose two students (student O and student X ) to play the game. Place a table at the front of the class and ask the two contestants to stand behind it facing the class. Students take turns marking the spaces in the 3×3 grid. The player who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row wins the game.

 Funnier version:

Preparation: print nine Xs and nine Os. You can download them here

Procedure:

  • Ask 9 students to sit forming three rows of three students each forming a 3×3 human grid. (see the pic above)
  • Give each of these students an X and an O
  • Toss a coin to decide who starts playing. Let’s say Student X starts playing.
  • Student X chooses a student in the grid. Let’s say, Ana.
  • Ask Ana a question from the ones you have previously prepared. If she answers correctly, she will hold the X, if she doesn’t answer correctly, then no letter will be displayed.
  • Now it’s Student O’s turn to choose another student. Again, if he answers correctly he will display the O letter if not, no letter will be displayed
  • The winner will be the student who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row.

 

Less funny version, but also fun.

  • Choose the two students who are going to play the game.
  • On the board draw a 3×3 grid and fill it with students’ names (see picture above)
  • Toss a coin to decide who starts the game.
  • Student X or O chooses a student from the grid.
  • Follow the same procedure as above.

Tip: I have played the game twice. The first time I used the less funny version and then I went for the funnier one. The combination worked just awesome!

Enjoy teaching! Enjoy learning!

A Low-Prep, Low-Tech Discussion Game to Activate New Vocabulary with a Simple Scrap of Paper

Naturally, I am a huge supporter of any activity that involves students getting out of their seats and interacting with other students. Also, if you have been reading me for a while, you will surely know that I am always worried about making vocabulary stick.
So, this super simple activity combines these two things+ zero preparation. How does that sound? Yes, I know. Besides, it’s compatible with any topic you are working with. Believe me, this activity is a hit.
There is a 99% chance that you will end up participating in the activity, but please, do not get all proper and spoil the fun by telling students to keep their voices down. Let them enjoy.

Aim: to make vocabulary stick by revising, reinforcing and using it.
Topic: Any. I was working with the theme of environment, but any topic would do
Level: Any.

How to go about it

Revising.

1. Revision with slips of paper. Start by revising the vocabulary you have introduced in previous lessons. I usually write the vocabulary I need to revise on slips of paper, place myself in the middle of the classroom (desks are arranged in a U shape) and very quickly give a short definition, synonym or antonym. The student who guesses correctly gets the slip of card. The winner, as you might have guessed, is the student who has more cards at the end of this activity. I do this activity very often. I think I like it because I can see that my students love it and it is a good exercise not only to revise meanings but also to work on pronunciation.

Writing.

2. Writing 5 newly- acquired words. Ask students to write on a small scrap of paper 5 words they have learned. If they have learned “make the most of” for example, encourage them to write the whole expression and not just “make the most “.

Speaking

3. On the board, write a question for the students to discuss in pairs.

4. Tell the students to stand up with the scrap of paper containing their words and choose a partner to talk to. They can sit down if they want to or they can remain standing.

5. Ask them to swap the pieces of papers and read the 5 words on it making sure they know what they mean. If they don’t, they should ask their partner to explain or clarify meanings

6. Point to the question on the board and ask them to discuss it trying to introduce as many words as possible from their list of words. Allow 4 or 5 minutes to discuss this question.

7. Important step: Ask students to swap lists again before asking them to stand up and find a new partner.

8. Write a new question for discussion on the board. Ask students to sit down with their new partner, swap the scraps of paper and repeat procedure.

My students said they loved the game! Let me know what your students think if you decide to give it a go.

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Six Low-Preparation Vocabulary Activities for the English Classroom

When I teach something new, I’m always worried about one simple thing. Will my students internalise any time soon the new “whatever it is”? How can I help them? How long does it take for them to feel confident using the new structure/expression/word? How many times do they have to be exposed to the new term? How many different examples/contexts do you have to give them? How long does it take before a word becomes familiar and therefore usable?

This is an article I wrote for Voices, the British Council magazine, where I suggest  Six Low-Preparation Vocabulary Activities for the English Classroom, which can help.

Do you Think Translation Exercises are Boring? Just the Opposite!

Believe me, they don’t have to be boring. In fact, just the opposite.

I know some teachers consider translation activities a thing of the past and that, arguably, they should be banned from our classes. I don’t completely agree.
If I am honest with you, I can’t say that I like giving students a whole paragraph to translate, but a one-sentence translation exercise can help consolidate and reinforce grammar and vocabulary.
And it doesn’t need to be boring. In fact, it can be a lot of fun. How?

Easy. Let’s combine a seemingly boring traditional exercise with an online fun tool and let’s turn it into a competition.

Preparation:

• Decide on few sentences you want students to translate. I’d suggest 6-8 sentences. If you like exploring tools, my favourite for this kind of activities is Playbuzz flip cards.
• Slips of paper

How to go about it:

1. Pair learners and give them as many slips of paper as sentences you want them to translate.
2. Write the first sentence on the board and ask students to translate into English. If you use the online tool I mentioned above, just show the first card. (See mine below)
3. Depending on the length or difficulty of the sentence to be translated, set a time limit.
4. Once the pair have their sentence, ask them to write it on the slip of paper big enough for you to see from a distance.
5. When the time is up, ask the pair to hold it up and quickly go through all the translated sentences awarding 1 point to the pair who has the correct translation.
6. The winner is the pair who get the most points.

Note: Be strict with spelling mistakes or any other tiny mistakes. Students love it when you are strict and don’t give away the points easily.

Follow-up: Revise again all the sentences, but this time orally.