Tag Archives: students

Create your Own Board Game to Practise Speaking and Activate Vocabulary

It is true that there is so much material out there for our English classes that most of the times, we just need to type some keywords on the internet and voîla, we have it. But, think about it, has it ever happened to you to come across some great material but not just exactly what you are looking for?  To me. All the time. And that’s probably why I am always on the lookout for new sites to help me create my own content.

This happened to me last week. I wanted to give my students a board game with conversation questions about sports and at the same time, use a little game to activate the vocabulary we had been studying.  I was lucky, from my files, I rescued an old board game that I had used a long time ago. But although it served the purpose, I was not entirely happy and therefore I set out to trawl the internet looking for an editable board game where I could write the questions I wanted my students to discuss.

And as Jeremiah the prophet said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. Well, I must have put all my heart into it ‘cause I found it. The design is not perfect but hey! it’s free. 

 Tools for educators is a nice little site which offers online editable templates. You just choose the template and write your own content. 

In my case, I have used the board game, but you can explore the other templates it offers. I am dying to try the dice generator. I don’t know how I am going to use it yet, but use it I know I will. 

So, this is what it looks like. You will need to fill in the 21 squares. If you don’t, it will still print the board but with some blank squares. Options when you have run out of questions?  Move ahead one space, move back two spaces… Once you have written your content, just print it.

Activating vocabulary

This is a great way to review any subject that needs a little jazzing up

  • Give students 5 pieces of paper. I normally reuse discarded printed with a blank side, which I cut into approx 10×5 cm pieces.
  • Instruct them to write on each piece a word or expression they have learnt about, in this case, sports. Ex: face danger, overcome your fears, adventurous. I encourage them to write not just the word but also the collocation as we have learned it.
  • Ask students to form groups of three or four people.
  • Ask them to put together all their cards, shuffle them a bit and place them face down in the middle
  • Give students counters and a die. The youngest in the group starts playing and then players will continue playing clockwise.
  • When Player A lands on a square, he reads the question and then picks up a card containing an expression which he will have to use when answering the question. They will have one minute to answer the question. If they manage to squeeze the expression, they can keep the card. If not, the card is returned to the pile.

Enjoy teaching! Enjoy learning!

Messy Words: a Vocabulary, Writing and Speaking Activity

It is October and autumn has officially hit. I am just beginning to come to terms with the fact that days are getting shorter and warm days are saying their goodbyes. Well, welcome autumn! I am all here for you!

Let’s kick it off this new season with a vocabulary revision activity that aims at reinforcing vocabulary while at the same time providing an opportunity for students to stretch their legs and interact with other students in the classroom. Gallery-walks, my favourite!

Aim: 

  • to reinforce the vocabulary of the lesson
  •  Use the vocabulary in context by
  1. writing an open-ended question containing the target word/expression
  2. answering the question by using the gallery-walk class dynamics

Procedure:

Before the class

  • Choose a few words you want to revise. I suggest 8-10 words. 
  • Fold a regular sheet of paper horizontally and cut it in half. You will get two slips of paper. This is a good opportunity to recycle the back of spare photocopies from other courses.
  • Write the letters of each word/expression you want to revise in random order. Number each of the slips of paper for easier reference.

During the class:

Step 1. Slips of paper on the walls

Put up the slips of paper on the walls of the class and ask students in pairs or in threes to stand up and work out what the hidden word on each slip of paper is. Ask them to number them as displayed on the walls. The first pair to have all the words, rings the bell (needless to say, there should be one on my table) and the rest of the class has one extra minute to finish this part.

Ask students to sit down.

Step 2. Writing open-ended questions

  • Students continue working in their pairs. Assign the pairs two of the words/expressions on the walls and ask them to write two open-ended questions –one per term related to “education” (this is the topic this week) containing the word or expression. 

For example, one of the words was “state-funded school” and one of the questions was “Would you send your children to a state-funded school? Why (not)?”

  • Give them small cards to write their questions and, using sellotape, place them next to the term the question refers to.  Ask them to write their names at the back of the card so that you know who has written the question and to give feedback.
  • Quickly correct the questions on the walls, and if there is more than one per word, choose the best one, which will remain displayed together with the slip containing the word in random order. Give the discarded questions back to their owners and allow them some time to focus on their possible mistakes.

Step 3. Speaking. Gallery walks

With the words and the questions displayed on the walls, ask students in pairs to stand up and choose a station (slip+card).

Instruct them to answer the question elaborating on the answer. Allow 5 minutes/station and then ask them to move clockwise to the next station. Repeat procedure.

Until next post! 🙂

Using Grass Skirts to Revise Topics

This is a very quick post to share with you an idea I had this very same morning to “ask” my students to start revising for oral exams.

Where I teach, the B2 level is divided into two courses: B2.1 and B2.2. To be perfectly honest, sometimes I wish there was a B2.3 course. I always feel like I need more time to prepare them to take the dreaded standardized exams they need to sit at the end of each level.

Anyway, the idea is to politely “force” my students to start revising the topics and obviously the specific topic-related vocabulary studied in B2.1. However, some of my students are really hard-working and they have already started revising on their own. For this reason, I don’t want to schedule the revision, I want them to choose the topics they really need to revise. Worried about the best way to do it, I came up with this idea. I haven’t tested it yet, but I hope it is effective.

TEARABLE TOPICS

First Day. Preparation:

  • Choose a number of topics and write them down. You can use my own template. See it here.   You can make your own template o download the one Tekhnologic  very kindly offers on his website. I have used his.
  • Cut a line between words but don’t cut them all the way so that the slip of paper doesn’t detach.
  • Each poster contains 8 topics. If you have between 10 and 18 students, you will need two copies of the poster. I printed them in different colours for easy differentiation.
  • Put the poster(s) on the walls of the class.
  • Divide the class into two groups and assign a poster to each group.
  • Tell students they will have to choose the topic they would like to revise and tear off the piece of paper containing the topic they have chosen. They can only do it from their assigned poster.
  • Homework: tell students that they will need to prepare a speech of about 3 minutes about something related to their topic. Some ideas are suggested in the poster together with more detailed instructions.

 Day 2.Procedure.

  • Students within their groups form groups of 3 and give their speeches.
  • Encourage members of the group to ask follow-up questions once the student has finished.
  • Repeat procedure to continue revising: display new posters (with the same topics) on the walls of the class and again ask students to choose a new topic to be revised. Again, ask them to prepare a short speech for the next day and repeat procedure.

Click to get the editable document

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.

 

Fun Lively Communicative Game to Reinforce I Wish/If Only

Who doesn’t welcome a bit of fun in the classroom, a light getting-out-of-your-seat activity? I can see no raised hands?  Right, we are all in for this game!!!

Before you continue reading. For this activity, you will need to have space in your classroom, which I don’t. Even though my class is U-shaped, it is still a small class. But, no problem.  Right outside my class, there is a big aisle where we can do this little activity and perhaps, who knows,  some students from other classes might want to join us. The more, the merrier.

We can do this game in two different ways or in both ways. Actually,  I did first Part 1 and then Part 2. Both equally effective.

Before the game: on the board revise the grammar for I Wish/ If Only.

The Game:

Ask students to form a big circle leaving the most space in the middle. They don’t have to hold hands or be excessively close to each other as long as they form a big circle and everybody can see everybody else.

This is how it works:

Part 1. The teacher asks a question containing I wish/ if only.

Shout the first question; for example, Who wishes they were rich? and instruct all the students whose answer is Yes to come into the middle of the circle and there, in pairs or threes, briefly explain their answers. Allow one or two minutes’ conversation and then, ask them to go back to their positions. Encourage them to use the target grammar in their answers.
What do students whose answer is No do? Easy answer: the same. The will need to pair up with the student who is closest to them explaining their answer.

These are the questions I have used. You are welcome to use them.

  • Who wishes they were abroad right now?
  • Who wishes they had a bigger car?
  • Who wishes they had studied harder when they were at school?
  • Who wishes they were thinner or fatter, taller or shorter?
  • Who wishes their neighbours were nicer people?
  • Who wishes they had a different English teacher? 😊
  • Who wishes they had chosen a different profession?
  • Who wishes they had a more positive attitude towards life?
  • Who wishes they could live to be a hundred?
  • Who wishes they could be president of their countries for just one day?
  • Who wishes they had more time to socialize?
  • Who wishes they had had more siblings?
  • Who wishes they had been born in another century?
  • Who wishes they had been born a member of the opposite sex?
Part 2. The students produce the sentences. The High-Five.

I have called this part The High Five. Still standing and forming a circle, ask students to think of a sentence about themselves they think people will easily relate to using I wish/ if only.

Students take it in turns to say their sentence aloud and at the same time move into the centre of the circle.  Anybody who feels the same way moves to the centre of the circle and gives a High-five to the person in the centre of the circle who has said the sentence.

Same procedure as above. In pairs or in 3’s ask them to briefly discuss their answer.

You can start by moving to the centre of the circle and saying:
I wish I could pass my English test ( Note: your hands will hurt from all the high fives you’ll get with this sentence)

Discourage sentences that might be too personal or too specific like
I wish my mother had come with me on that trip.

Remember that it is important to model first and give clear instructions so that students know what they have to do. You want everybody participating and nobody slowing the game down or feeling uncomfortable because they haven’t understood what they need to do. If necessary, use concept check questions( CCQ) to make sure everybody knows what to do.

Interested in spicing up your lessons? I ran face-to-face workshops helping teachers integrate technology in their classes in an easy way, using free online digital tools. Practical tested ideas that combine traditional teaching with modern techniques. Fun and learning, a win-win!

From teacher to teacher. In English and in Spanish.