Jamboard (so far)

Jamboard mentioned a lot recently. I decided to give it a go with my Secondary classes. Started using it last week so this is all new to me. Early thoughts.

Jamboard versus (e.g.) whiteboard.fi

This was the first step for me – working out which one I might find more useful. There were far more tools on whiteboard.fi (wait), but Jamboard won straight away because it integrates well with Google Classroom (wait), so that was that really.


Fluency and fun: Hidden words

Here’s a quick speaking activity for Primary EAL. A good one for Friday afternoon fun.

Check out this ‘Hidden Words‘ post on Bored Panda. Is just a load of illustrations with six hidden words in each.

Get the students to spot the words, explain where they are, explain their meaning, look up their meaning if unsure, etc. Lots more language than I thought came out of this one, and the students took control of the activity! A nice one for fluency practice.

Here it is as a Powerpoint. All images (including feature) copyright Bored Panda, I just had to add it to a ppt because of adverts or suggested reads on their site being potentially iffy for YLs. Plus all the comments give the answers away!

Reading tasks for homework

Hiya, hope online learning is going well.

Here are some random reading tasks I set for homework. Each student chooses one of these to do a week. These are in a big folder on my desk, but they’ll be adapted for online learning now probs. Still, you might find them useful. Ten for fiction, six for non-fiction.

Most of these are well-known, so not all my ideas or anything. Examples:


Twinkl in Action: Facts as a foundation

Year 9 Geography. The assessment task involves looking at the impact of tourism in Kenya. Some of my EAL learners are quite new to English, and their prior knowledge of Kenya is limited. They’re gonna need some support. I get two EAL lessons a week with these kids, and mainly use the time to help them access their learning in other subjects.

Before we get into the tourism side of things, we need to lay some foundations. We also need a fun activity – learning can be fun, right?

… Twinkl to the rescue!


Lesson idea: Introducing light and shadow

Here’s a video-based intro for the topic of light and shadow (YLs). You may have seen this activity type on ELT Planning before:

Introducing recipes

Introducing viral videos

This is just the starter activity (feel free to adapt). It can be a springboard to further discussion, inquiry, etc.

Hope it’s useful 🙂

Feature image: Mocomi video screenshot

Research in brief: Critique of BICS and CALP

BICS and CALP in a nutshell

BICS and CALP was an idea first proposed by Prof Jim Cummins in the early 1980s. BICS stands for Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills, and CALP is Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency. Here’s what they are:

‘BICS refers to conversational fluency in a language while CALP refers to students’ ability to understand and express, in both oral and written modes, concepts and ideas that are relevant to success in school’ (Cummins 2008: 108).


Varjak Paw Kahoot! (EAL)

Here are a couple of game-based resources you could use for EAL learners reading Varjak Paw. Our Year 4 students have really enjoyed the book (I did too, although I didn’t like the ending!).

Anyhow, here’s a Kahoot! to play at the end of the book:

Varjak Paw Kahoot!

Before reading, I found it useful to prime learners for some cat-specific vocab that might pop up!

Cat related words (one of my more random Wordwalls)

I anagrammed that one too, see here.

Also, here’s a hangman of terms from earlier in the book, things like Contessa, humiliation, fireplace, insect, guard, etc. I found that guessing these prompted some discussion, so you could use the activity to teach phrases for probably (It could be… Maybe it’s… It’s definitely….!).

Keywords: World War Two events

Just a quick review resource for EAL learners. Our Year 9s were studying key events in WW2, including:

  • Dunkirk
  • Evacuations
  • The Blitz
  • Rationing

Here are a couple of Wordwalls to help with reviewing the events / keywords related to them.

World War Two events key facts

WW2 events anagrams

You might find them useful. Wordwall activities don’t seem to show up in Google searches so sharing some useful ones here might be best.

Research in brief: Alderfer ESL Program Assessment Tool

What might be optimal ESL provision in international schools?

Alderfer and Alderfer (2011) state that there is no unifying set of criteria to assess ESL programs in international school contexts. Their research sets out to provide one.

The authors outline four categories through which ESL programs can be assessed:

  • Program conditions
  • Student learning conditions
  • Teaching conditions
  • Home culture conditions