Tag Archives: canva

Error Awareness Chart in Written Production

Glaring, serious, minor, common, grammatical, spelling, typing errors. Who doesn’t make them?

I must admit that I don’t dedicate as much time in class to honing my students’  writing skills as I should. Even if it is only for 30 or 35 minutes, assigning my pupils a writing assignment in class tends to disrupt the lesson’s flow. So, my students probably don’t write enough, but this is about to change. Well, in fact, I have already taken steps to make it happen.

But more important than making them write is the instructions I should be giving them to help them get better at this skill, and that includes many things, from using the newly acquired vocabulary and structures in a sort of guided writing to making them reflect on their errors. And it is this last part, making students aware of their errors, that has prompted me to write this post.

The truth is that it is not the first time I have tried some strategies to make my students reflect on their written errors  (you can read all about it here) but after reading a brilliant post by Gianfranco Conti and inspired by his own error awareness chart, I have decided to try something similar and see how it works.

Below, you can see the chart I have designed. I am sharing with you two links.

  1. View Link
  2. Template link: where you will be able to edit my titles and fully modify them.

Error Awareness Chart by cristina.cabal

So, what’s the idea?

  • First, the usual stuff: you give your students a written assignment, they hand it in, you spend an awful lot of time correcting their mistakes, and then, hand it back to them. So far, so good.
  • Now, together with their marked written work, give them a copy of the chart below and explain how, hopefully, the chart is going to help them improve their writing skills.
  • The first time, you will need to go through the list of errors on the left. Make sure they understand what each error refers to.  Tell them the numbers 1-9 in this chart correspond to the different essays they will be handing in throughout the year.
  • So, say it is Essay 1. Students will have a look at their mistakes and put a tick in the boxes where they have made a mistake.

For example, they should tick the box Subject-Verb Agreement if one of their errors is                                                         People makes difficult decisions

And the box   if they write something like: He went at home

This same procedure is repeated every time you hand back a marked written assignment. This strategy does not guarantee immediate success. That would be wishful thinking. Success at writing is something students must work on. And hard.

 

 

 

 

You Don’t Have a Chroma Key. So what? How to Easily Change the Background of your Videos

Have you heard of Canva? I am sure you have.  Canva is free but, did you know that as a teacher, you have access to all premium features?  If you haven’t applied yet, you can do it here.   We will need the premium account for what I am about to explain here.

The problem

You and your students love role-plays. It allows them to practise specific vocabulary, work collaboratively, improve their pronunciation and their social skills.  There are so many possibilities: job interviews, presenting the news, ordering food at a restaurant, buying a house, …etc.

They are working so hard and doing so well that you’d like to record their performances. But… the background for their videos is always the same… the walls of the classroom. And… you don’t have the money or the expertise to set up a green screen, the famous chroma key.

The solution

What if I told you that there is an easy way to change the background in their videos without placing a green screen behind the students, i.e., without having to set up a chroma key?

Here’s how to do it

  1. Let’s assume you have already recorded your students’ performances.
  2. Go to canva.com and click Create a Design. Choose Video.
  3. Choose a background or upload one.
  4. Upload your students’ video
  5. Remove the video background
  6. Done

Not clear enough? I have also recorded this step-by-step video (2:37)

  • 0:00-1:30: static background
  • 1:32: animated background

 

Thanks to Natalia from https://natalialzam.wordpress.com/   for her inspiration to create the First Dates background.

Retrieval Practice Activity Using Cards for Any Level

And I am back. Yeahhhh!  Hopefully, I’ll have more time to write about all the activities that have worked wonders in my class. Hopefully.

But, before you continue I have an important announcement: I love retrieval practice activities! And this activity is all about pulling vocabulary out. Are you ready?

 

Whether you have just stumbled upon this blog or are a long-time visitor, you have to know that, first and foremost in my mind before I give my students a writing or speaking activity, is retrieval practice. We need to bring to the front of their minds the language we want them to use. If we don’t do it, what inevitably happens is that students will keep on using what they already feel comfortable using. And that won’t work. We are aiming at improving their level of English.

So, let me summarize this simple, highly-adaptable  idea.

  • Part 1: students, in groups,  revise key vocabulary using cards that contain the definition for the target language.
  • Part 2: students use these cards in a speaking activity.

NOTE: I am sharing with you the card template, but you can easily simplify the activity by just typing the definitions on a slip of paper. Me? I love visuals. I think they make a difference.

Now, that you are interested, let’s explain in detail:

PREPARATION
  • Vocabulary.Choose some vocabulary you want your students to use and revise. It shouldn’t be new vocabulary.Remember this is a retrieval practice activity. Type (if digital) or write the definition. Print and cut the cards. You will need a set of cards per group. As explained above, I love using visually appealing stuff, but you can easily simplify this part  using scraps of paper.
  • Conversation Questions. Prepare some conversation questions related to the topic.

Here’s the template in Canva I have used. You will need to create a free account to download it.

ACTIVITY 1. RETRIEVAL PRACTICE

STEP 1: Arrange students into groups of 3 and give each group a set of cards. Working together, they read the definition and try to come up with the word/expression that matches the definition. Ask them to use a pencil as they might not get all the answers right.

STEP 2. Whole class. Check answers. Clarify. Work on pronunciation.  You know the drill!

ACTIVITY 2. SPEAKING

STEP 1: Students in the same groups.Ask students to put the cards on a pile face down on the table.

STEP 2: Tell students they are going to do some speaking practice and the first student to start speaking, for example,  will be the youngest and then, the activity will continue clockwise. Let’s call him Student A.

Ask the first question and Student A will pick up a card and show it to the other students in his/her group. Student A will have about 90 seconds to answer the question trying to use the word/expression on the card. If he manages to use it, he can keep the card.; if not, it will be returned to the pile.

I forgot to mention you would need a timer. You can easily find one on Classroomscreen

Repeat procedure for Students B and C and repeat until all the cards have been used or you run out of questions.

How many cards?  A multiple of three works well since we are working with groups of three students. Thus, 6, 9, or 12 will work fine.  If you revise 12 words and only give them 6 questions, that should be fine too. They don’t have to use all of them. As an alternative, you can instruct students to choose two words rather than just one and keep the one(s) they have managed to use.

Note: I have used this activity in C1. The topic was Relationships and the answers are as follow:

1.the main breadwinner 2. black sheep 3. the spitting image 4. to fall out 5. to take after (phrasal verb) 6. to see eye to eye 7. to keep an eye on someone 8. sibling 9. to be under age 10. To come of age 11. to get on/along with somebody 12. to make up

AND AGAIN. Yes. Again

Whole class now.

  1. Gather all of the cards and review the target vocabulary again while providing definitions.
  2. Give each student a card. Have them read the definition aloud and give this card to the first student who answers correctly and manages to give a sentence using the word/expression. I guess you know who the winner of this little game is. A round of applause for the winner is a good prize. We are poor teachers, here.

I hope you have liked this simple game. If you put it into practice, please let me know how it goes.

Mixed Conditional Sentences

Learning about  Mixed Conditional Sentences is the perfect way to finish this weird year, don’t you think so?

I am sure you have been speaking English way too long without adorning your speech with  Mixed Conditional Sentences. Well, I am here to remedy this.

First, you need to open your mind to the fact that when you first start learning about Conditional Sentences, we only teach you the basic types like, for example, when you learn Conditional Type I and we teach you If+present simple⇒Future “Will” . Of course, this is correct  but as you get more proficient, you soon realize that there are so many variations to the basic type that you begin to wonder if any combination is possible. I am tempted to say “yes”.

Anyway, I am here to teach you about Mixed Conditional Sentences. Are you ready?

So, we are going to study two cases:

  1. If + Past Perfect ⇒ Would

                                  If I hadn’t studied, I wouldn’t be in the advanced course.

As you can see,  we have a combination of Conditional Type III  (if+Past Perfect) and Conditional Type II  (would+infinitive)

When do we use it? When we refer to a past event that could have had a direct result on a present situation if it had been different.

I know … difficult to grasp. Some help in Spanish?

(Nos referimos a un hecho pasado que de haber sido de otro modo habría cambiado el presente.)

Now, let’s have a look at some pictures with some hints in bubbles. Try to finish the sentences using this Mixed Conditional Structure.

 

Now, write your own sentences.

2. If + Simple Past --- Would have+ Past Participle

              If I were tall, I would have enrolled in the army

As you can see,  we have a combination of Conditional Type II (if+Past Simple) and Conditional Type III  (would have+ past participle)

When do we use it? When we refer to a present event that could have changed a past situation.

In Spanish? Un hecho presente que podría haber cambiado un hecho pasado, es decir, el pasado habría sido diferente ,si el presente fuera diferente. I know, you have to read it several times.

Now, let’s have a look at some pictures with some hints in bubbles. Try to finish the sentences using this Mixed Conditional Structure.

Now, write your own sentences.

 Writing: Ready for a Guessing Game?

Aim: guessing the exact sentence on the back of the tile

Time: 1 minute/sentence

Put students into pairs and choose one of the flip tiles. Instruct students to complete the conditional sentence on the tile. They will need to write it down. Tell them the picture is a hint. Listen to their sentences and flip the tile. Award 1 point for each exact sentence. Similar but not quite? Half a point 🙂

 

PDF with more exercises here. Use a QR Code Reader to scan de key