lesson planning

Lesson idea: the youngest person ever…

We recently looked at an article in English in Mind about a child genius. She was the youngest black female ever to get a place at an American university. I created a few activities based on information in the text which went down ok, but it was the follow-up task that was really successful.

youngest ever

Before class I prepared 16 slips of paper, each with a ‘claim to fame’ written on it. Each started with ‘you were the youngest person ever…’, for example:

  • You were the youngest person ever to grow a beard longer than 2 metres, aged 15
  • You were the youngest person ever to sing with One Direction, aged 10
  • You were the youngest person ever to complete a solo skydive, when you were 5!
  • Etc.

My classes are normally organised into four different groups of four students.

I gave each student one slip of paper, and allowed a few minutes for them to make some notes, think of their story and the facts around it, etc. Then students had 10 minutes to mingle and listen to each other tell their crazy stories. They always started off by asking their partner:

‘So what’s your claim to fame?’ / ‘so what’s special about you’?

Students had to remember as much information as possible about each of their classmates’ stories. They returned to their groups and told the people on their table who had the most interesting story. I did a brief class feedback but didn’t want students to share too much information.

Then came the fun part! (more…)

Help please: Frayer models

What better place to think through a lesson idea than on my blog?! Hopefully all you great teachers can offer a few ideas…

I recently came across the idea of Frayer models while browsing Teacher’s Toolkit. I found other explanations and examples of their use on this blog, and concise definition here. To be honest I’d never heard of them, but they look very useful. It’s a ‘graphic organiser’ for new vocabulary, normally split into 4 sections. Students write a definition of a word, draw the word, then give examples and non-examples of the use of the word. Most models online look like this:

I’ve decided to give this a go next term with my younger students (aged 10) and perhaps some teen classes. I’m going to make an A4 vocabulary booklet with two models on each page, maybe 20 words in total. (more…)

Lesson tip: creative displays

The other day I did a creative writing activity with my teen class (ages 12-13). The activity was based on the teacher resources in house displayEnglish in Mind, and it worked well. Students had to describe the colours, sounds and smells in their house, and write about things like their favourite place to be in the house, what they might change about their living room, etc. It was quite a free task, but I set a few challenges to include certain language structures we’d covered (e.g. similes).

Anyway, I gave each student a piece of paper to write their ideas on, and they added a bit of colour afterwards. I’d shaped each paper so that when they came together they would make the outline of a house. It made quite a nice display and they enjoyed trying to fit the pieces together. Here’s how it looked:

house display 2You could do this for a lot of different activities, it just adds a bit of creativity to your classroom displays. Make sure your students write on the correct side of each paper though – I marked the correct side with a little dot.

If you try this type of thing out please take a picture, I’d love to see some other ideas as my displays often look a little boring!

classroom organisation: some reflections

I was re-reading a booklet the other day on how to use Cuisenaire Rods in class, written by John Evans whilst at LTC Eastbourne. It’s brilliant so look it up! Anyway, the first activity in the booklet involves using rods to tell the story of the Battle of Hastings. This is still one of the best teaching resources I’ve used.

The very first procedure of activity says this:classroom arrangements10

Set the chairs up in a horse-shoe. Do not have students sitting behind their desks. You WILL kill the lesson. It is important that they can see the rods and that they are close to the action. If you don’t believe me, try it!

As John points out, the layout of the learning environment can really influence the class dynamic. Here are some of my reflections on organising the classroom and dealing with some problems have arisen. (more…)

30 activities inspired by game shows

Game shows and TV quizzes are a great source of inspiration for classroom activities. Believe it or not, I keep a notepad on the coffee table so I can jot down any teaching ideas I get from watching TV!

It’s always good to have a range of different games up your sleeve to mix things up a bit. Here are some activities that appear in shows on the telly. I bet you already use a fair few of them, but you might find something new! (more…)

Getting teens to talk

This post outlines my problem-solving techniques, and offers some tips for improving interaction in teen classes.

problems

It’s only a few weeks into term, but I’m revisiting familiar issues with my new teen classes:

Why are they so timid? Why won’t they volunteer answers during class discussion? Why won’t they share ideas when nominated? Why won’t they interact in pairs? Am I putting too much pressure on them so early into the term? How can I stop them speaking together in their L1? Should I always stop them speaking in their L1? (more…)

It’s your move… helping students manage spoken discourse

taskbased

Helping learners to deal with spoken discourse was a hot topic on my Diploma course. You might encounter the terms ‘interactional talk’ and ‘transactional talk’ when you get to modules on discourse analysis; a possible development task could be to devise a lesson based on things like ‘responses’ and ‘follow-up moves’. If so, I hope this post will help. I’ll introduce an approach to teaching spoken discourse markers, which is based on a task-based learning input session from my CELTA. (more…)

12 ideas for reviewing vocabulary

vocab review1I’ve kept a list of all the vocabulary that has come up in class during the last few weeks of summer school. It’s a fair bit – about 200 words.

Here are some ideas for reviewing vocabulary in groups. For these tasks I didn’t use all 200 words, but about 60 or so. To prepare, give students the word list and get them to cut all the words up so each one is on a different slip of paper. Get them to mix all the words up and put them face up on the desk. (more…)