It is not very often that I feel depleted of energy. I try to prepare my classes in such a way that they do not only engage students, but also me. I really need this spark in my lessons to keep me motivated. But some Mondays ago, I was just not feeling it and the way the lesson was laid out in the textbook was not helping either. It was mind-numbingly boring, and I was so tired that I could think of nothing to engage me or my students. But thankfully, my colleagues Paula and Alba were there to save the day, and they rushed to help with some ideas. Want to know what came out?
First Step. Always. Revision.
We were working with these useful phrases to use in arguments. So, first and foremost, revision. This is key.
These are some of the sentences we studied:
What’s the point you are trying to make?
That proves my point
You are missing the point
I take your point.
Please, get to the point.
There is no point crying over spilt milk
You’ve made your point
Some other useful phrases:
You are twisting my words
That’s not what I meant at all
We’ve got our wires crossed
We should clear the air
That came out all wrong
We are going round in circles
Can we just agree to disagree?
There is no need to raise your voice
I gave my students a small piece of paper and asked them to write one of the sentences above on the slip of paper, encouraging them to use their best handwriting, as this sentence was meant to be read and used by other students working with them.
To hold the pieces of paper, I gave them these tiny blue holders I bought here. (I love props, what can I say? Does the activity work without them? Sure thing!)
Let’s talk about writing today! If you’re searching for a writing activity that is engaging, effective, promotes collaborative work, and takes only about 20 minutes to complete, then look no further! I have a simple yet effective activity that can help you achieve all these goals.
As an educator, I am always looking for new ways to help my students improve their writing skills. That’s why I’m excited to share an activity that I’ve created which has proven to be both effective and engaging for students. In this case, it’s been used in a C1 level class, but it can easily be used with any level. In this blog post, I’ll be explaining the details of this activity and providing examples of how it has helped my students write more advanced texts. If you’re looking for a fun and creative way to help your students improve their writing, then keep reading!
This activity consists of two parts, with the first part being designed specifically for C1 students, or possibly strong B2 students. If you teach lower levels, you’ll need to create your own slides for Part 1 of the activity, but you can still use Part 2 and 3 in this post.
Part 1: The theory
I have created this brief presentation to target some specific points to help them write more advanced sentences. We have focused on 5 key points, including reduced relative sentences, order of the adjectives and using a noun as a compound adjective.
In the last slide, you will find the Noun Roulette Randomizer. Yay!
Time to recycle spare photocopies! Cut them into strips of paper large enough to write a long sentence on.
Ask students to pair up and give each pair 3 or 4 strips of paper.
Display the noun roulette and explain that it will randomly select a noun. For example: collection.
Click here to see the roulette in action. To create your own, click here and type your own words. Easy-peasy!!
In their pairs, they will have about 2 minutes to come up with their best sentence by incorporating some of the points worked with in the first part of this activity. They must include the noun “collection”.
In the meantime, I’ve written the word ‘collection’ on a post-it note and posted it on a visible part of our classroom wall.
Once they have finished writing their “advanced” sentence, we will put them up on the wall, surrounding the noun. You can use Sellotape or Blue-tack for this.
Select a new noun with the roulette and do it all over again. I have done this 3 or 4 times.
What is your role as a teacher? Yes, you need to be working, too. Once they have placed their sentences on the walls, correct their mistakes.
Part 3: Voting
Once the sentences have been written and mistakes have been corrected, instruct students to stand up in pairs and read all the sentences surrounding the nouns. They will now need to vote for the sentence they think is the best in terms of showing a more advanced level, regardless of the mistakes they might have made. To mark the sentence they like best, they will just have to put a tick on the strip of paper containing the sentence, as you can see in the picture.
This has two aims:
1. To help students identify their own and their peers’ mistakes, which is a valuable learning experience.
2. By voting on the best sentence, students come to understand their own ability to distinguish between writing that meets the C1 level and writing that falls short.
One might think that after 31 years teaching, I wouldn’t need to spend time preparing for classes. After accumulating so much content over the years, it would seem logical to just retrieve what I need from my files. However, for some reason, that’s not how it works for me. As a result, I find myself once again in the process of creating content, this time on the subject of travelling.
This post revolves around the topic of Travelling and Tourism and considering what I have written above, I have come up with this brilliant 🙄 idea. Use a board from Canva and replace specific questions with numbers, making it applicable to any topic. Alongside this, we can create cards that include the relevant questions and reference their corresponding numbers. What do you think?
Hold on, Cristina! Did you read the title of the post? It says “Two decks of cards”. So, we have one deck for questions, but what about the other one? I haven’t forgotten! The other deck contains useful phrases to help students express themselves more effectively. 😆
What do we need?
Print the board multiple times. Print as many copies as groups of students. What works best for me is groups of 3 students. Get the PDF here
Reusable cards with useful phrases. One deck per group. PDF here.
Ready to play?
Create groups of 3–4 students and give each group a board game, the two decks of cards, counters and a die. Students decide who starts the game. Student A throws the die and places his/her counter on the corresponding square, which contains a number. On the deck of cards with the conversation questions, he/she finds the card that matches the number of his/her square, reads it aloud and then takes a card from the Useful Language deck. These cards are placed face down on the table. The student will need to talk for at least two minutes, trying to use the expression on the card. Then, it is student B’s turn.
I find it really hard to stick to the textbook every time the lesson is about Relationships. With any other lessons, about any other topics, it might be easier to be content with following the dictates of the textbook. But I think Relationships, and all sorts of ideas spring up. Not all of them are good, to be honest. But these, I have tried and tested in class. They work.
This lesson is divided into two chunks:
The first part is dedicated to revising, reinforcing, and introducing new vocabulary.
The second part is dedicated to honing students’ listening and speaking skills using different visual inputs: images, audio, video, and cards.
GUESSING THE TOPIC WITH A FRIENDLIER VERSION OF THE GAME HANGMAN
Students will need to guess what topic we will cover in class next, But…. There are rules to follow:
The class is divided into 2 teams. Each team names a spokesperson.
Let’s say Team 1 starts. Now, to get the chance to say a letter to solve the puzzle, they’ll have to answer a content review question. For example: “what preposition collocates with the verb “depend”?”. After a quick discussion with the members of their group, the spokesperson will give an answer. If correct, they can suggest a letter. Whether it is a correct or incorrect guess, the turn will pass to Team B, who will get another content review question and the chance to guess a letter if the answer to the review question is correct.
Important: Teams can’t try to solve the puzzle until half the letters have been guessed(i.e. if the word has 14 letters, 7 must have been guessed) and only the Team playing will have this chance.
If they guess and fail, their turn will be skipped.
GAME: THE 15 SECONDS CROSSWORD GAME TO REVISE VOCABULARY
Divide the class into 2 teams.
Team A chooses a representative who chooses a number from the crossword puzzle, reads the description, and has 15 seconds to guess the answer with the help of their team.
If they guess the answer, they can continue playing until
they can’t guess the word,
they run out of time (remember 15 seconds) or
they guess three answers in a row.
If this happens, it is Team B’s turn.
The winner is the team that solves the last clue.
In this case, the terms in the crossword were related to the “relationships”
NOTE: (click on the top right-hand corner to enlarge the crossword)
INTRODUCING NEW VOCABULARY: PEER TEACHING AND PARTNER DISCUSSION.
More Vocabulary here. Give students some individual time to read through the vocabulary, underlining any new terms.
Building on the belief that ” to teach is to learn twice” (Whitman, 1998), ask students to get into groups of 4 and help each other with any vocabulary they haven’t been able to guess on their own.
Whole class: ask students in Group 1 which vocabulary items are still unfamiliar to them. Ask the other groups in the class to volunteer an explanation if they know. If nobody in the class knows, clarify the meaning. Continue in the same fashion with all the groups until all the vocabulary has been clarified.
Work on pronunciation and then test students by giving a definition and asking them to quickly give you the term.
SPEAKING and LISTENING
Display this picture and ask students to comment on this picture. Ask:
Who do you feel more sorry for? The bride, the groom, or the mother-in-law?
LISTENING. Why bother with marriage? Watch from 0:00- 0:34
Play the beginning of the video (0:00- 0:34) In pairs or small groups, comment on the following:
What is the speaker’s view on marriage? Do you agree with his view?
Are there more benefits or drawbacks to getting married in your country nowadays?
What is the right age to get married in your country? And to have children?
FAMILIES: LISTENING and SPEAKING
Write NUCLEAR FAMILY on the board and ask students to explain what type of family a nuclear family is and what other different family types they know. Write them on the board. Ideally, they will come up with stepfamilies (also called blended families), cohabitation, extended family, lone parenting, DINKS (I know, unlikely!) and some others.
Time for listening.First Listening:Play the audio once and ask students to jot down the different types of families that are mentioned (stepfamilies. Cohabitation, DINKS, lone parenting and people living alone). Write them on the board. You will probably need to add People living alone. Second Listening: Note-taking. Form groups of 4 students and assign a different kind of family to each of them. Ask them to take notes, as their final task would be to retell the information they hear about their assigned family structure. NOTE: I have assigned cohabitation and DINKS to the same person.
Follow-up: ask students in their groups to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of each type of family structure
PARENTS AND THEIR OFFSPRING: SPEAKING AND LISTENING
1. LYING. Play this video where children confess the biggest lie they have told their mums, in front of their mums. Ask students to confess theirs.
2. OVERPROTECTING PARENTS.
Ask these questions
Are parents today too overprotective?
What is considered overprotective parenting?
What can overparenting do to a child?
FAMILY TRACKING APPS. Display with the OHP this article from the BBC about family tracking apps and ask them to read the first 3 paragraphs. Ask students to talk about the advantages and drawbacks for both parents and children.
SPEAKING CARDS: FINDING THE MATCHING PAIR.
Put students into groups of 3 or 4. Give each group a set of cards and ask them to place them face upon the table. Student A begins by taking the beginning of the question (in blue) and finding the matching pair (in orange).
Student A has two minutes to express his/her opinion. Then, it is Student B’s turn.