Favourite tools to create a lesson plan, in order:
In my professional life, I give bonus points to any tool that is super easy to navigate and gives me, in a matter of minutes, a very visual professional-looking design. And more bonus points if it is free, easily shared and reliable. And that’s Spark Adobe Page. I have been using it since 2017 and no other tool has been able to supersede it. I really cannot say enough how much I love this tool. Well, I think I just have!! 😆
This time, I have created a beautiful speaking lesson for my C1 students. These food-for-thought questions are likely to spark off some controversy and heavily engage your students- in fact, my students spent an hour talking about the first two questions.
Hope you enjoy the lesson and starting today, it also becomes a must-go tool for you, too.
Note: this is not a sponsored post. I only write about what I like and works for me.
Are you teaching vocabulary? Silly question. Who isn’t?
On the flip side, perhaps the chunk “teaching vocabulary” might sound a bit weird to you; and yes, controversial opinion alert… can vocabulary be taught? I don’t know. I think you can teach form, pronunciation and meaning but arguably, this is not teaching vocabulary; this is more like presenting vocabulary. Vocabulary needs to be used to be learned and that’s my ambitious aim in every single lesson.
And yes… I feel you dear fellow teacher, whose life is as crazy as mine right now, who has a hard time finding the time to prepare the lesson, who knows his students are beginning to feel tired after so many months struggling to understand their classmates when talking through their facemasks and who stares at the book thinking… what can I do today that will bring a spark to my lessons and engage my students?
I see you. I feel you.
So since I see you and understand you because I am just like you in these feelings, today I am sharing with you two ideas to activate vocabulary. I hope it helps you and makes tomorrow’s lesson planning easier.
Vocabulary. First things first: the vocabulary we are going to work with. Get the PDF here
Activity one: Choose a quote
In this activity, which has two parts, students are presented with 4 quotes and asked to choose one.
“Health is the greatest possession” Lao Tzu
“A human can be healthy without killing animals for food. Therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite” Leo Tolstoy.
“Your body hears everything your mind says” Naomi Judd
” Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory” Albert Schweitzer.
Part 1: students in pairs
Put students in pairs and ask them to make sure they do not talk about the same quote.
Give students 4 minutes to prepare a 2-minute speech sharing what the quote means and whether or not they agree with it. In their speeches, they should include at least 10 of the words in the vocabulary list.
Students get into their pairs and listen to each other. While Student B listens to Student A, he needs to mentally keep track of the number of expressions/ collocations used.
Part 2: whole class
Divide the class into two teams. Team A chooses a representative to give his speech to the rest of the class. While Student A is talking, members of Team B listen and write down the words from the list Student A has used. Then, it’s Team B’s turn to choose a representative to try to beat Team A.
Activity Two: Chain Talking
In this activity, we are going to use a random wheel, which is fed with the target vocabulary. My absolute favourite is random wheel is wheeldecide.com.
Pair students up. Explain you are going to pose some questions related to health and each student in the pair, and in turns, will have 45 seconds to talk about the question. For each question, students will have two opportunities to speak. This means student A talks for about 45 seconds, then Student B for 45 seconds, then back to Student A and then, Student B again.
Tell them you are going to use a stopwatch and every 45 seconds, you will ring a bell.
Display the wheel using the OHP and tell students that, in their conversations, they will have to use the word on display in the wheel. Every time a student talks, a new word will be displayed.
On the board, write controversial statements or questions and let’s the show begin!
” Modern lifestyles can seriously endanger our health”
Countries should make vaccination compulsory
Do you think the numbers of vegetarians and vegans will continue to grow? If so, what explains their continued popularity?
How do you feel about surgery? Would you consider having surgery that isn’t completely necessary, like plastic surgery?
Lifespans are getting longer. How long do you think the Millennials Generation (1980-1994) will live on average?
This month many of us, teachers and students alike, are celebrating the anniversary of all kinds of things we had no idea would define the year ahead of us. I distinctly remember the day when only two or three students turned up for class and myself saying things like: “this soon will pass” and “I will see you in a fortnight! before going into confinement.
With human activity slowing down due to the strict restrictions, March will probably also mark the month when our planet could breathe some fresh air for the first time in decades. Reversing decades of destruction is, of course, not possible in such a short time, but at least, we could have a glimpse of what the earth would feel like without fossil fuels.
The lesson I am sharing with you today is, as you have probably guessed, explores the theme of the environment and is meant for C1 students.
I have designed the lesson using my favourite tool ever, Spark Adobe Page, but in the presentation, you will find links to other websites that will help my students work on vocabulary relevant to talk about this topic, enhance their listening skills by watching videos and discuss questions to boost their speaking abilities. Also, at the end of the post, you can have a look at a writing collaborative activity using Google Slides.
Before you jump right into the lesson in Spark Adobe, perhaps you would like to explore some vocabulary related to the environment. I have used the awesome tool Flippity. I cannot embed the activity but click on the image to have a good look at all the possibilities it offers for introducing, revising and reinforcing. As you can see, I have created an activity with a template, but then I can reuse it in a number of different ways. That’s what I call, a real time-saver!
Ready to explore the lesson? This is what you will find in this visual session
Natural Disasters: Vocabulary and exercises
Natural disasters: Conversation questions
National Geographic repository of videos explaining natural disasters
Man-made disaster Video activity with a pronunciation game
Environment: vocabulary and games
Speaking: conversation questions to use vocabulary in context
To round up the lesson, I gave students a writing activity using Google slides in editing mode. This beautiful template has been designed by Paula from Slides Mania. Thanks; Paula, I think I can call myself a Slides Maniac.
By the way, if you want students As and Bs to work on their questions at the same time, it might be a good idea to use a Chrome extension to split the screen into two. I use Tab Resizer. But, if you do not want to install an extension on the Chrome bar, you can always do it manually.
Depress the left mouse button and “grab” the window.
Keep the mouse button depressed and drag the window all the way over to the RIGHT of your screen. …
Now you should be able to see the other open window, behind the half window that’s to the right
At this time of the year, after students have received their first marks and we go back to normal lessons, I rack my brains trying to find an activity that will get them back into the mood of focusing on learning, and not so much on exams and their results.
I like to make sure I have a fun activity up my sleeve for these first days and one of my absolute favourites is Gallery Walks, in all its variations. I love asking my students to move around, change partners, and seeing their smiles when doing the exercise. I love the hustle and bustle of my classes when students are doing the gallery walk and talking at the top of their voices while commenting on a poster or complaining about how difficult it is to use one or other expression. I love their complaints; I love their smiles and their aha moments when they have managed to squeeze in a term I have suggested. I think I feel nostalgic.
Sadly, movement during lessons is not an option now due to the pandemic. But wait… “If the mountain won’t go to Mohammed, then Mohammed must come to the mountain”
And this is what I have done, a digital Gallery Walk. I have used Google slides to design a fake museum and I have shared the presentation (Present Mode) with my students.
Have I managed to pique your interest? Then, have a look at my presentation featuring a museum here.
On a side note, if you don’t know how to share your Google slides in presentation mode, I have you covered. Have a look at this video (0:36). It is really very easy and for this activity, it makes a real difference.
In class- or break out rooms-, I have asked students to take out their mobile phones and shared the link for the presentation, using an URL shortener. In my case, bit.ly bit.ly/3oO4PfW
I have asked students to work in pairs or groups of three and instructed each group to start on a different slide. Students read the question on the poster and I give them 1-2 minutes thinking time before they start talking within their groups. I have also included some lexical prompts to “force” them to use new vocabulary.
For example Group 1, slide 1; Group 2, slide 2; Group 3, slide 3 and Group 4, slide 4.
After 5-7 minutes talking, I have asked groups to move to the next slide, ie, Group 1, slide 2; Group 2, slide 3 and so on.
You can get a copy of the Digital Gallery Walk here
Although I might seem like an organized and methodical person from the outside, the truth is that, in some areas, I am or can become highly and hopefully disorganised.
Context: this week I am teaching Present Perfect Simple /Continuous and its use in combination with the simple Past. I know that, over the years, I have written several posts with games and activities featuring these tenses. Problem? I have so much content on the blog, that, sometimes, it is hard to find what I am looking for. See my problem?
The idea when I started this blog was to have a repository of activities I could resort to, when needed, quickly. For the most part, I have managed to do it. However, in this case, I had to trawl the blog looking for these activities. And this is precisely what has prompted this post. Having them together. Easy to find. Up for grabs! I am not sure which activity I’ll use this year but what I know is, it will be easy to find now.
Speaking game for B1 or B2 levels: Click on the Instructions to read how to play this game. Suitable to practise for and since and the present perfect simple/continuous and the simple past.
2. You are lying
A speaking game to consolidate the use of present perfect simple and past simple. Ready for a lot of fun! Handouts provided.