Tag Archives: writing

Remote Teaching: Set up a Class and Give Every Student an Online Interactive WhiteBoard

Looking for a way to spice up your online lessons?  What if you could give every one of your students a whiteboard and have them interact with you from their homes?  What if you could create a class, have them join the class, ask a question and have them answer at the same time, each on their own whiteboard?

What if I told you that neither you nor your students need to sign up, give an email or any other information and that it is super simple to set up?

Have I managed to persuade you? Then, keep on reading!

How to do it
  • Go to whiteboard.fi and click on New Class
  • Give your class a name and click Create new Class
  • Give your students the link to your class or the code
  • Ask students to write their real names. They will appear in your class as they join in
  • Have students answer your questions on their whiteboards and you will be able to see their answers in real time.
  • Clear all whiteboards and ask your next question
  • Don’t forget to close your room when you have finished your lesson

Some quick ideas to use it:

  • dependent prepositions
  • irregular verbs
  • spelling
  • words related to a given topic
  • sentences using vocabulary or a grammar structure
  • pub quiz

I have created this video tutorial to help you set up a room. It is really very easy and it could help spark your next online lesson.

Enjoy teaching!!! Even from home!!!!

Is it advice or advise? Awesome Repository of Confusing Words in English

I always tell my students English is easy.  When they hear me say that, those who have been with me for two or three years just roll their eyes and say: “Teacher, you always say that!  For you, everything is easy!” But hey! What’s the point of saying ” Careful here!! This is very difficult!”

I am sure you see my point.

 

Anyway, the thing is that when learning a foreign language not everything is a breeze. Unfortunately.  There are hundreds of words that can be easily confused because they have a similar spelling or a related, but different, meaning.

Today, I want to share with you a website Writing Explained that is really helpful in clarifying differences or similarities in the meaning of hundreds of confusing words. For example, do you know when or how to use  Altogether and All together? Some day versus Someday? Elder and older?

Why do I like this site?

  • Though the list of confusing words is not exhaustive and new sets of words are added every day, it is just perfect for the average students.
  • The words are in alphabetical order so it is very easy to find what you are looking for
  • It is explained in clear everyday English
  • Differences are always explained in 5 steps and I love the Summary. This is the one I would read if I knew the difference and just wanted to double-check.
  • I also like the idioms dictionary on this website. Why?  Because it not only explains the meaning of the featured idiom but also gives its origin and uses the idiom in a clear context.

Check it out! You’ll love the site!

Note: Fromm my enthusiasm describing this website, you might think that this is a sponsored post.  It is not. 😉

Dry Erase Boards to Help Fix Grammar and Spelling Mistakes from Essays

Happy February everyone! Finally January is over, and we can start dreaming with the spring.  And that reminds me that I need to start thinking about losing some weight. Well, every cloud has its silver lining! I know, I know, we are still in the thick of winter. One can only dream…

The second term is upon us and it’s now the time to give students the results of their tests. I am never super excited about it. While it’s nice to see how some students are making the most of the course and will pass with flying colours, some others aren’t that lucky and, believe me when I tell you that even after almost 3o years teaching, it still saddens me to see their disappointment. Some of them are smart enough to admit they have not studied enough but for some of them, it is not a question of how much effort they put into it.

And talking about exams, isn’t it true that students tend to always make the same mistakes? I am talking here about grammar and spelling mistakes. Now, how many of you have corrected the spelling of “writing” or a “people goes”. See? It shouldn’t be that difficult to correct if, when we teach what we know is bound to become a mistake, we teach, revise, reinforce and emphasize the correct form. If only it were that easy… I can hear you say!

Anyway, these are some of the most easy-to-fix mistakes my B2 students have made in their essays. Problem is that if I give them their exams with the mistakes underlined and corrected, they are going to say “oh yes, silly me, I know the grammar for this, teacher!” and after a brief glimpse at the mistake, they are just going to forget it. What? Over my dead body!

On the blog, there are a lot of games and strategies to help students analyze and fix their written mistakes. This is just a new one! Fun, but also hopefully, effective!

For this activity, I have used a template that won my heart as soon as I spotted it on Genial.ly and some dry erase boards, which you can easily substitute by a regular A4 sheet of paper. You can, but it is more fun if you use a dry board. Don’t know why, but it is. Trust me.

Dry Erase Boards to Help Fix Grammar and Spelling Mistakes from Essays

You need

  • Grammar and spelling mistakes  from students’ essays.
  • Dry Erase Boards and whiteboard markers  (alternatively regular A4 sheets of paper).

Note: click on the 3 dots to enlarge the presentation. Notice the Push here button  to advance through the slides.

 

Procedure:

  • Divide the class into teams of three and give each team a dry erase board and a whiteboard marker.  Tell teams to quickly come up with a creative name for its team. Write the names of the teams in a list on one side of the board.
  • Display the first mistake and give students 45 seconds to discuss the mistake and try to fix it. You can use a timer from www.online-stopwatch.com or from classroom screen.
  • When the time is up, a representative from each team needs to raise the board with their guess at correcting the mistake.
  • Ask them to comment and discuss the mistake as a whole class.
  • If it’s correct, they score 1 point.
  • The team with the most points at the end wins.

At the end of the exercise, students do the exercises again but this time orally. This retrieval practice is what is going to help students remember the correct structure or spelling.

The next day, I would suggest asking students to discuss in pairs the mistakes and their correction, to fix knowledge.

Fun and effective! Enjoy teaching!

Guess my Age: a Fun Game to Practise Modal Verbs of Possibility and Certainty

Have you ever seen the contest  “El Concurso del Año” on TV? It is on Channel 4. I had never seen it before and I don’t think I am going to see it again any time soon. I found it incredibly boring and uninteresting. But dull as it was, I realized it had great potential to teach modal verbs. Yep. That sad! I am watching TV and  I can only think of teaching. So guess what, I am about to make this contest your new favourite thing to teach modals of possibility and certainty.

  • Now, what is the goal of the game? to guess the exact age of 6 celebrities. 
  • What’s the target language?  modal verbs of certainty and possibility in both their simple and perfect forms.
  • What skills are we working with? speaking and writing.

Materials: you will need blank slips of  paper  (a good opportunity to recycle the back of some old photocopies)

These are the basic rules of the game, which I have slightly modified to meet my students’ needs but hey, the ingredients in this game are just really appealing: celebrities, music, interaction, fun, new technologies…etc and lots of learning.

  1. The class is divided into teams. The aim of the game is to find out the exact age of some famous people while using the target language. In this case, modal verbs.
  2. Teams will be offered a clue to help them guess the exact age.

There are 3 types of clues:

  • the SONG ( one song released on the year of birth of the famous person)
  • the EVENT (an important event of the year the celebrity was born)
  • the CELEBRITY ( another famous person born in the same year)

To see how to play, and to play this fun game, open the interactive presentation below.

Personal experience: students really enjoyed the game and in their excitement, they tended to say just the age or slip into Spanish. Remind them to use the target modal verbs and English.

Note: To enlarge this beautiful interactive presentation created with Genial.ly, click on 3 dots and then on the arrows.

Agony Aunts: a No-Prep Activity to Practise Giving and Receiving Advice

Are you gearing up for the first classes of the new year?  I  am. And I want to give my students a back-to-the-grind activity which would get them into the right mood, namely, engaged, learning and having fun.

Have you ever heard about “agony aunts” or“agony uncles”? I am sure you have! In case you have no clue about what I am talking about, this is the definition the Cambridge dictionary gives.

an agony aunt is a person, usually a woman, who gives  advice to people with personal problems, especially in a regular magazine or newspaper article

I bet you all have a famous Agony Aunt in your country.

Inspired by this well-known figure, I have designed this effective activity with two aims

  • To practice writing skills
  • To give students the opportunity to practise the language used to ask and give advice
  • To provide speaking practice interacting with different students

Materials: a piece of paper with “Thank you”  written on it for every student in the class. You can easily ask them to do it before the activity begins.

Step 1: Writing

1. Reading a model.

  • Ask students to discuss, in pairs, who is better at giving advice, men or women.  Ask for feedback.
  • Using the OHP, display the picture below and read it with your students.I hope nobody takes offence, it is just meant for fun!

2. Writing. Individually, ask students to write about a problem they might have. They can also invent it. Walk around the class helping them with grammar and vocabulary.

Step 2 Revising vocabulary to give and ask for advice

Write two columns on the board; one with the heading Giving Advice and the other one with the heading Asking for Advice and ask students to contribute to both. It could look like this

Giving Advice

  • if I were you, I’d…
  • I think you should…
  • In my opinion, you shouldn’t
  • Why don’t you…?
  • I would advise you to
  • You might try….

Asking for Advice

  • What should I do ( about)…?
  • What do you think I should…?
  • Can/ could you give me some advice about…?
  • Do you have any advice on—?
  • Could you recommend…?
  • What do you suggest I do?
  • What ought I to do?

 

STEP 3. Speaking

Divide the class into two groups: Agony aunts and Advice seekers. Using the speed chatting technique, the two groups sit facing each other; there should be an agony aunt for each advice seeker. If you have an odd number of students, consider participating yourself.

The idea is that each problem seeker will tell the agony aunt their problem and the agony aunt after considering the problem, should offer a piece of advice. After two minutes, a bell rings and the advice seekers should move one position to talk to the next aunt agony.

Once they have talked to all the agony aunts, they will need to choose the best piece of advice given for their problem. They will thank the Agony Aunt by giving him/her a card with the words Thank you. The student who gets more Thank you cards  is named Agony Aunt of the Day year and gets a big applause from the class

Now, they change roles and the Agony Aunts become advice seekers and vice-versa.