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.
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.
Time to revise irregular verbs. I know, I know!! I am teaching B2, but trust me, they need the revision.
I mean, let’s be real. Technically, they have learned the irregular verbs sometime between A2 and B1 but you and I know that irregular verbs are like a pain in the neck to learn only compared to studying phrasal verbs. So, welcome revision!!
I have always believed that using technology in the classrooms has a lot of benefits for the students- this is probably not the post to enumerate them- but also, I firmly believe that technology without methodology does nothing for the student. Just because you use the latest tools does not mean students are going to learn more or better. They do not. You have to plan exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it if you want the activity to be effective. Otherwise, you are just playing or entertaining students. And this is something I don’t do in my classes. So, playing and learning, a big YES; just playing, a huge NO.
Anyways, since I am a superfan of :
using games to learn
using technology effectively and meaningfully in my classes
I have created the game below using the cool interactive freemium toolGenial.ly (proud to say I am an ambassador of this great tool developed in Spain)
For more information about my workshops on how to use free online tools effectively in your class, have a look hereor here
Aim: to revise irregular verbs.
Explain that this a competition to be played in pairs: student A and B
Whole class: As decide on a letter to challenge Bs.
Bs will have one minute to write as many irregular verbs (infinitive-past-past participle) beginning with the selected letter as they can think of.
Explain that irregular verbs will be awarded 1 or 2 points depending on the difficulty of their spelling or on their frequency at an intermediate level. Challenge students to try the difficult ones.
Set a timer for the allotted time and when time is up, display the answers by clicking on the interactive letter.
Student B gets 1 point or 2 points (depending on the verb) only if he has correctly spelt the verb in the past and past participle.
Now, it ‘s Student B’s turn
NOTE: What do As or Bs do while it’s the other student’s turn to compete? They can also do the challenge, but no points will be awarded!
Note: This is an interactive tool. Click on the letters. Click on the arrows to enlarge the game.
I have realized something about myself today. Vocabulary revision games are my thing.
All my good lessons begin with revision. I make a point of beginning my classes revising what we learned the previous lesson. It takes five minutes, but I honestly believe it makes a big difference. The little game below takes exactly that, 5 minutes. Just saying.
If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you probably know by now that one of my most nagging worries- shall I call it an obsession?- is teaching vocabulary about a certain topic and then hearing my students speak about the topic without a trace of the vocabulary we have been learning.
I never get angry. Believe me. I am a very nice teacher. But this,… I can hardly restrain myself.
So, again, I have designed a fun little activity to revise vocabulary, collocations…etc about any topic and I have called it “The 5 seconds game”.
Before the class:
Prepare a set of 7-10 small questions for each pair. They need to be quick questions. Have a look at my questions below. They are all about Unit 1 dealing with “Education”
Ask students to choose a partner. After pairing up, each pair become a team and play against another team. So, we will have Team A and Team B ( 4 students)
Tell teams you will ask each team X questions. After each question, they will have 5 seconds to think and when the bell rings, they will have to give the answer to the question at the same time. If the answer is the same and it is correct and they have answered at exactly the same time, they will score 1 point
Say Team A starts. Ask them to sit facing each other and in clear view of Team B who will be listening to their answers very attentively and keeping score of the points they get.
Ask the first question, mentally count 5 seconds, ring a bell or use any other device that makes noise and ask the two members of Team A to give the answer at exactly the same time. Team B will be in charge of making sure the rules are followed to the letter.
Continue in the same way until the X questions have been answered.
To reinforce, ask the questions again, but this time to the whole class.
Repeat procedure for Team B with X new questions
VARIATION: In another group, I asked students to work in pairs, competing against each other and not against another pair. It also worked very well, probably better.
Thanks to Andrea and Paula for giving me permission to record them
Team A questions
What do you call the school where you study and sleep?
What preposition does “committed” collocate with?
How do you pronounce “native”?
Can you give me a synonym for “ obligatory?
What’s the opposite of a “state school”?
Which is correct “do your homework” or “make your homework”?
Another way of saying “ to relax”
“to assign” is a verb, what’s the noun?
Team B questions
What do you call the school which trains students for employment?
Which is correct “do an exam” or “make an exam”?
When you pass an exam with high marks, you can say that you pass it with flying….?
What do you call the money that you pay to attend a school?
How do you pronounce the word “machine”?
What preposition do you use with the verb ”keep” to mean “to go as fast as”?
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!
to reinforce the vocabulary of the lesson
Use the vocabulary in context by
writing an open-ended question containing the target word/expression
answering the question by using the gallery-walk class dynamics
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.