Lesson Ideas

EAL presentation tasks

I’ve been teaching an intensive English course this term. It works out (online) at about 8 hours per week, would have been a lot more had we not been back in lockdown. Seven students, Japanese, between 12 and 14 years old. All were supposed to be ‘low level’ (like, A2 or below I guess), although I’m sure you’re aware of the nature of these things. Once they got a bit of speaking and listening confidence, well, there’s far more language there than they’d realised.

To be honest, it’s been an absolute pleasure so far. There was a public holiday last week, and by lunchtime I was missing them! I just haven’t had students like this for a while. Awesome.

Every week, I set them a presentation task. I thought it would be quite challenging for them at first, but they seem to love it.

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Timesaver: Conversation starters

Here’s a quick fix warmer while you’re waiting for all students to arrive in your online class.

I googled ‘conversation starters’ the other day and found this list of questions 225 starter questions on gifts.com. I pasted these questions into the random spinner on Wordwall (yes, Wordwall again) and… that’s it. Nothing special, but just a way to prompt a bit of a chat if needed. Here are 6 different question spinners, as I said all questions originally from the gifts.com site (I took out some less useful ones). These are all teen-friendly.

Link here
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Timesaver: Quickfire questions

Online learning again… Five weeks in. Need to keep things lively.

Starting the lesson with these quickfire questions for my A2 level students. Nothing special, but livens things up while we are waiting for everyone to arrive.

Here are the links, don’t know why I called them random challenges, was just lacking inspiration.

link here

Second one…

Link here.

and third one…

Link here.

These are embedding as games as I link them but probs just end up links 😦 soz.

Using Loom

Here’s a quick overview of Loom and why I like it.

What’s Loom?

Loom is a video recording / screencasting tool. It is available as a Google extension. I first came across this tool after reading this post last year. It includes a good video tutorial for how to make vids.

How can I get it?

Basically, Google ‘Loom for Chrome’, add the extension, then pin it to your browser. Whenever you want to record a vid of you/your screen/you and your screen you just click the Loom button and you get a drop down recorder appear:

When you start recording you choose if you want to record the entire screen, a window or a tab. When you finish recording the video automatically uploads to your Loom library.

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EAL: History / Geography reviews

Here’s another insight into day-to-day EAL planning. Usual disclaimer on the look of the resources – time restraints, okay?!

History and Geography were tough for our EAL learners in Term 1. They are so English-heavy and there’s tonnes to cover. Most of my separate EAL classes during the term focused on some part of the content in these two topics. I mean, there was the odd review of maths terms and some focus on essay writing skills, but mainly I was helping learners access the Hist/Geog content.

At the end of each (half-)term, with writing assessments looming, I help the learners review what’s been covered. These activities are done as a rip-and-run activity so sorta gamified.

Here are some of the examples of my review activities for WW2 key events (the essay involved discussing two of the events in detail…)

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EAL: Choosing and using sources (History)

My last post was a quick insight into my day-to-day planning for EAL in Primary. Here’s a day-to-day snippet from Secondary.

I mainly work in Year 9 learners at my school. I provide in-class support for EAL learners in most core subjects (Science, Geog, History, Maths, etc). Then I teach the learners for a couple of hours a week in small groups – EAL becomes their Modern Foreign Language basically.

What I teach them is up to me – so I try and teach them what they need! Ha, a toughie!

One minute I’ll be in a Maths lesson trying to work out if they are struggling with the actual math, or just struggling to access the language in a word problem. Then I’ll be in a Geography class trying to feed in a bit of functional language to help learners debate issues related to blood diamonds. Next I’ll be going over keywords in Science related to genetics (ahem, I only learnt what an allele was a couple of months ago). Then, BAM! Into History, where I need to help my learners understand their essay feedback. Inevitably, my own classes end up being study review/support sessions in a way, yet there’s still plenty of other basic convo needs to address too – and no time! Argh!

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EAL: Descriptive writing, fronted adverbials

Here’s a very brief insight into some day-to-day EAL planning.

I work with EAL learners in Year 4. Planning for my EAL lessons is informed by one of the following:

  • National Curriculum SPaG
  • the Unit of Inquiry for that (half)-term
  • WIDA targets

In their literacy classes, students were learning to use fronted adverbials (was a new one for me tbh). They were also reviewing expanded noun phrases as part of the same activity – descriptive writing based on images.

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Using Stories Without End

Here’s a quick follow-up to my review of Stories Without End (Taylor Sapp, Alphabet Publishing).

As you may have read, I thought this was great resource which could be easily adapted to my own context. Here is an example of how I adapted one of the stories.

The resources as they are include a few lead-in questions related to the story content, a bit of vocab pre-teaching, the story, and some creative follow-up tasks.

I bulked these out a bit and created the following sequence around the text called ‘Spooky House’ (in which some kids are deciding whether or not to enter a scary looking house). This was for A2/B1-ish level. I taught it at Primary (without the grammar bit) and also Secondary (full content). Worked well for both.

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Seesaw for EAL and young learners

Someone contacted me last week in a panic. ‘Aaargh, we’re going to start using Seesaw – any tips? Is it easy? Can you do a lot on it?’ etc.

I find Seesaw really easy to use as a classroom learning app for EAL. The functionality for slides and templates is like a Jamboard +1 (you pay for the privilege). You can do quite a lot with it – here are some random (very random) screenshots from my Year 4/5 lessons just to give you a general idea. These aren’t all-singing-all-dancing, I just want to reassure the person who contacted me that things will be more familiar than you imagine.

In no particular order…

It’s really easy to model activities/tasks when not doing a live lesson. In this example, I wanted learners to predict the captions for a load of images. I can record myself doing the task and add a voiceover with instructions too (students just click play button to view).

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18 more ways to introduce your lesson topic

This term I’ve tried out a few different ways to introduce a lesson. These ones have worked well. They might be worth reading if you’ve exhausted my previous list!

  1. Song lyric gap fill

Example: 3rd conditional, regrets

Do a short gap fill on part of a song related to your topic. Mine was on some lines from Frank Sinatra’s My Way:

Regrets, I’ve had a few… (0.55 – 1.06)


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