Tag Archives: onlinetools

Flowers by Miley Cyrus in my Class

I can’t. I couldn’t resist the temptation of using this song in class. I know you have heard it everywhere, as it has become a global hit in just a few days. And as it turns out, it is also in my English class.

How can I incorporate the song into my lesson plan in a way that goes beyond just a fill-in-the-blank exercise?  Easy. We are going to do an activity that combines some of my favourite ingredients:

  • A touch of technology
  • A game-like speaking activity
  • Singing? if not singing, lip-syncing.

STEP 1. Before the game: working on form
  • Show students the lyrics with the gaps and ask them to predict the lexical category or part of speech that could fit each of the 10 gaps in the song: is it a noun, an adjective, a preposition or maybe an article? Allow a couple of minutes for this task. You might want to show an example.

For example, I wrote a letter___ my mother (students will most likely agree, they’ll need   a preposition to fill in this gap)

STEP 2:  Defining and Guessing

  • Hide the gapped text. To begin the activity, the text will be hidden from the students’ view.
  • Students will work in pairs. Student A will face the board. Student B will face away and write on his/her notebook numbers 1 -10 (there are 10 gaps/words to be guessed)
  • Tell students you’ll write the missing words on the board in random order, but each of the words will be identified with a number.
  • Write the first of the missing words in the cloze on the board, and ask student A to define the word, or give a synonym or antonym for student B to guess and write down. For example, if the word on the board is “1. wrote”, Student A might say, “number 1 is a verb in the past, and you use a pen or a pencil to do it”. If Student B guesses the word, he will write in his notebook, next to number 1 wrote. If he cannot guess the word in the allotted time, he will write 1-___.
  • Tell students you’ll write a new word every 30 seconds.
  • Continue in the same way until you have written all the missing words on the board. Remember that the words should be written in random order.

STEP 3:  Fill-in the Gaps Race.

  • Once they have all the words, Students A and B will work together to complete the gapped test.
  • Place a bell on your table. The first pair to complete the task ( i.e. putting the words in the right order to complete the lyrics of the song) rushes to the teacher’s desk. The teacher checks that the exercise is correct and if it is, they ring the bell on your table (well, if you have a bell to ring). From that moment, the rest of the class will have one minute to finish the exercise.

STEP 3:  Singing or lip-syncing

Yes. If some students need a pit of persuading, tell them it is a very good exercise to improve pronunciation.

STEP 4: Conversation questions. We talk a bit now.

  • Can you describe a time when you experienced a heartbreak?
  • How did you cope with the feelings of heartbreak?
  • Have you ever helped a friend through a heartbreak? How did you support them?

Mind-Blowing Artificial Intelligence to Make your Day

Artificial intelligence (AI) has taken giant steps in the past month. The tool I bring you today is mind-blowing, even terrifying, and I am not exaggerating even a bit! I’ve been trying the website for a few days now, and I have already told all my friends about it, and now I am telling you. I cannot keep a secret this big! This is way more than a time-saver!

The website is

  • Free
  • Requires registration and some verification. Do it. It is worth it.
  • I have tried it in Spanish English, French, and German.
  •  Its URL is https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt/. Click on TRY to SIGN UP:
What can this tool do? The question is, what can’t it do?

Some things I have tried:

1. Write a formal letter to a client complaining about a product.(Personal note: my sis is constantly

2. Write an essay about unusual customs. Then I asked it to write the same thing in a more informal style, and then again using only 50 words. We can also ask it to write in a way that a 6-year-old would understand (for lower levels).

3. (personal) How to fix a wooden table bitten by a dog.

4. A list of the advantages and disadvantages of using a mobile phone in the classroom.

5. Vocabulary for C1 education (it was very basic).

6. Write 5 multiple-choice questions about education vocabulary with four options.

7. Correct this sentence: He took me  granted because doesn’t love me.

8. Explain the difference between curriculum and syllabus so that a child would understand it.

In short, the list of things it can do for you is endless.

Limitations: ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.” So while the material might come out sounding original and authentic, there is a good chance it may also be wrong. Also, it does not have access to current events or up-to-date information about specific countries. Its knowledge is based on a snapshot of the internet from 2021, and it is not able to browse the web or access new information.

2 Engaging Retrieval Practice Activities to Start your Class on the Right Foot

Two ideas that can easily be adapted to your own context.

True to my habit of beginning the class with a retrieval practice activity, I have added to my growing arsenal two new ones:  playing hangman and doing crosswords. This is how I have modified the rules of the games to adapt them to teaching/learning more effectively.

GUESSING THE TOPIC WITH A FRIENDLIER VERSION OF THE GAME HANGMAN

Playing hangman is an old classic. Well, at least for me. I cannot count the number of times me and my friends whiled away the time between classes (sometimes during classes) playing the paper and pencil version of hangman.

And playing hangman is just what I need to start my classes this week.  (Aside note: did you know that the hardest word to guess in Hangman is Jazz?) This time, the word will be easier. 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.

Tool used: Learning Apps

GAME: THE 15 SECONDS CROSSWORD GAME 

Ready for another engaging gamified retrieval practice activity? Here we go!!

  • 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
  1. they can’t guess the word,
  2. they run out of time (remember 15 seconds) or
  3. 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)

  • Tool used: Learning Apps

I hope you have enjoyed these two activities I have created for my students.

Would Rather: Introducing, Revising and Reinforcing

This is not the first time I’ve shared a lesson on using Would Rather to express a preference, but this lesson is also an excuse to share some of the tricks (also called activities 😊) I keep up my sleeve to engage my students and make them enjoy learning; because they/ we deserve to have fancy, engaging, dynamic lessons even if what needs to be explained is as dull as ditch water.

I strongly support the use of visuals in the class to create stimulating lessons. I know creating your own content takes time. But it pays off. Trust me on this one!

FIRST SESSION
INTRODUCING THE TARGET LANGUAGE. PRESENTATION.

I have introduced Would Rather presenting students with some slides and some visual prompts and asking them to provide the questions based on the images.

Some help might be needed, at least, for the first two slides. Encourage students to describe their preferences in pairs, even if it’s a guided assignment.

Target grammar:

  • Question: Would you rather read a book or watch TV?
  • Answer: I’d rather read a book than watch TV because…

Would Rather Introduction de cristina.cabal

GRAMMAR AND EXERCISES
SECOND SESSION

The two activities that follow are meant to be done the following day in order to revise and reinforce this content.

REVISING AND REINFORCING: VIDEO, INTERACTIVE GRAMMAR, FLIP CARDS GAME

(NOTE FOR TECH ENTHUSIASTS)  This beautiful activity has been created with @Genial.ly.  First I created the video, published it on YouTube, and then embedded it on Genial.ly. Then, I used the Template to create the Flipcards.

  • Revise with the video (1st slide)
  • Revise with the matching grammar (2nd slides)
  • Flip Cards Game (following slides). To be used in the game that follows.
FLIPCARDS GAME. Rewriting with Would Rather.  Using Dry-Erase Boards

1. Pair learners and give each pair a dry-erase board and a whiteboard marker.
2. Show the first sentence and ask students to rewrite it using Would Rather
3. Depending on the length or difficulty of the sentence, set a different time limit.
4. Once the pair have their sentence, ask them to write it on the board, big enough for you to see from a distance.
5. When the time is up, ask the pairs to hold it up and quickly go through all the sentences, awarding 1 point to the pair who has the correct grammar.
6. The winner is the pair that 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 points easily.

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

SPEAKING: BOARD GAME

This board game has all the ingredients of a good game:

  • Reinforces grammar
  • Boosts communicative skills
  • Improves writing skills
  • Builds rapport
  • + Combines technology with traditional props: in this case, a huge die  (there is a built-in die on the board, so don’t worry if you don’t have this beautiful red die; it is just that I love mixing both worlds.

And here’s the board. As you can see,

  • There are 3 draggable counters.
  • To see the prompts, you need to click on the number.
  • As you can read in the Instructions, if they land on a square with the question GIF, students will need to write a “would you rather” question for the teacher. Yes, you need to answer, it is only fair!!!

 

Hope you have enjoyed this lesson plan. My students have! 🙂