teacher toolkit

Present perfect game

I’m on good form! It’s been a fun weekend of classes.

Today I tried out a new task for practising the present perfect (life experiences). Well, it wasn’t exactly new, just a variation on a few well-known tasks. Still, it worked well – lots of practice and lots of smiles!

Preparation

  • Put a few topics on the board:

Travel, sport, studying English, animals, food

  • Elicit a few verbs (past participle form) related to each topic:

Travel: been, seen, travelled…

Studying English: studied, passed…

Animals: owned, fed…

Etc.

These will help students with ideas.

  • Give students 5 slips of card each. They write one sentence on each card (one for each of the topics). The sentence should be about their life experiences. Rules are…
  1. The sentences must be true (that narrows things down a bit!)
  2. They can’t be too easy to guess
  3. You must keep your sentences a secret

Easy to guess for Thai students: I’ve been to Chiang Mai (most of the students have)

Harder to guess: I’ve walked along the Great Wall of China (quite specific)

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Planning tasks for young learners

To an experienced YL teacher this post is just stating the obvious. To me it’s not, because I’m new to teaching primary aged learners.

I’ve got in the habit of tweaking almost every activity to try and make it fun. I enjoy getting my planning hat on and making things more engaging for YLs. Things like the spelling races and the travel quiz I spoke about last week are the recent additions to my toolkit.

Things to consider

A few general tips for tweaking tasks to make them more YL friendly:

  • How do things look? Changing fonts, adding images, colour… these can all make your activities look more engaging
  • Can I make my tasks more ‘multisensory’? Sorry, I’m not buying into the VAK neuromyth with this! I’m just suggesting that varying tasks in general can lead to more interest and engagement
  • How long are my activities? Short activities are better. I try and keep most stages under 10 minutes, but of course it depends what you’re doing!
  • Where does the activity fit in the lesson? What comes before and after it? It’s good to have a balance of ‘stirrers’ (get students up and active) and ‘settlers’ (calm down, focus, etc)
  • Can I add an element of competition? I guess this depends on whether you want to… My students respond well to competition. I like that a competition element often promotes teamwork and collaboration, but students do come to expect a game element a bit too much sometimes…
  • Do I need to differentiate the task? You probably will, so how can you make sure that you meet the individual needs of each learner?

Se at TalkTEFL is a brilliant teacher of young learners. I know he has tonnes of posts lined up on YLs, so I’ll leave this topic to the expert. However, I will share one example of a tweak I tried which has gone down well:

Hiding words for matching tasks. Instead of giving learners a set of words and meanings for a vocab matching tasks, I just hide the target words around the room. Everywhere – stuck on the projector, on the underside of skirting boards, in the middle of the dictionary… They have to find the words and write them (correctly) in their books before I give them the meanings to match. They go MAD for this for some reason!

Feature image: valeriabfranca.com

I’m writing a series of short posts in response to Martin Sketchley’s blog challenge. You can view his new blog here.

Word stress – footballs and sticky balls

I like teaching word stress. I have various ‘go to’ activities for noticing and practising word stress – stuff like this:

  • Using Cuisenaire rods

vocab4

  • Humming the stress pattern
  • Fist pumping when you say the stressed syllable
  • Building vocab based on stress and word formation – tasks like these activities from Book of Pronunciation:

stress1

 

and…      stress2

Copyright Marks and Bowen (2012)

  • A ‘stand up/sit down’ game… Students in a group of 3 or so. Say a word. If stress is on the first syllable, student 1 stands up, second syllable, student 2 stands up, etc.

What have I been trying recently?

I’m trying to make things more fun for young learners…

  • I got bored of the stand up game and the rods for a bit, so I brought in footballs and tennis balls. Put students in a group of 3. One person holds the football (main stress), the others have the tennis balls. You say a word and they pass the balls between them to show the stress pattern.

The other fun thing is this…

  • Get hold of some sticky balls that will easily stick to the whiteboard. Like these:

stress3

Pic from dhgate.com

Board the stress patterns, e.g. like this:

stress4

 

Say a word. The students discuss which stress pattern it has with their team. They throw their sticky balls at the correct pattern. Work out some kind of points system. They seem to love this game, or perhaps they just love ‘accidentally’ throwing the balls at me…!

You could also make them throw their ball at a particular stress pattern. They must then think of a word they know with that pattern.

I’m writing a series of short posts in response to Martin Sketchley’s blog challenge. You can view his new blog here.

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… (1.19 – 1.30)

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Lesson idea: Star Wars crawl creator

I got so excited about this that I had to post it up! I found this site today where you can create your own version of the Star Wars intro! It looks like this, and you can find it here…

starwars

It’s really simple to do – just create your own story, type it in and click done…

starwars2

My students are still loving Star Wars at the moment so this got tonnes of laughs. It’s perfect for creative writing. Enjoy!

Vocabulary review – fortune tellers

IMG_0026

my current chapter of Incredible English

Did you ever make one of those origami fortune tellers when you were a kid? They were pretty cool. Anyway, I’ve just planned a lesson on shapes with my young learners (from Incredible English), and thought the classic fortune tellers would come in handy for a bit of a vocabulary review.

I bet plenty of teachers have used these before as a fun review tool – Svetlana at Elt-cation is one for crafts so it might have come up on her blog already. Here’s a picture of my model fortune tellers for class this week:

IMG_0025

I first thought the students could make these for their original purpose, so I put colours on the front and numbers in the middle. Then I realised they’d be good for reviewing vocabulary, so I started putting that on instead. Under the flaps I added questions or challenges based on our topics this term, which were animals, food, jobs, etc. Examples were things like ‘name 5 mammals’, ‘name 4 jobs beginning with C’, and ‘how do you spell hedgehog?’ All the questions will be created by the students, meaning they need to flick through their class books and notes to revise the topics.

If you don’t have a clue what these fortune tellers are, just look on Wikipedia. Here are the photo instructions from Wiki on how to make them if you’ve forgotten!

fortune teller

from Wikipedia

Great formative assessment tools

In the first ever guest post on ELT Planning, Kirsten Anne shares her teaching experiences and offers two great ideas for formative assessment. 

This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been promising to write something for ELT Planning for a while but anyone who is in the teaching profession in some guise will understand that I had to prioritise my to-do list.  There were the parents to schedule meetings with, praise postcards to write and lessons to plan.

kirsten

me as a teacher

Who am I?

Here’s a potted history of my career so far. I first entered English Language teaching after completing my CertTESOL back in 2010.  From there, I taught EFL in Edinburgh, Sussex and South Korea before returning to the UK to embark on my PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education). The last 5 years have been somewhat of a whirlwind and at times I have felt like all I do is work. My partner will vouch for me when I say I work hard – the life of a primary school teacher is not glamorous. I only spent 1 year in the UK post-PGCE and whilst I loved the school where I completed my NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) year, the demands from the government back home were just ridiculous. My search for a teaching job that allowed me to have more of a work/life balance began.  So far, that search has taken me to Bangkok where I’m fortunate to be part of a prestigious international school with a forward thinking team.  I don’t want this to sound misleading — the job is still VERY demanding, but being part of such a supportive team helps, as does not having quite so many bits of paperwork… (more…)