tefl

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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Why I work for free (sometimes)

I take on materials development work for free sometimes. I appreciate that not everyone has time to do that, can afford to, or might want to. I choose to do it for different reasons.

  • It might be for a good cause – I don’t get many requests like that, but it has happened in the past.
  • It might lead to paid writing work.
  • It might help my professional development.
  • It’s good for networking.
  • I don’t have any contracts on and just fancy keeping my hand in with something.

Here are some (TRUE!) examples of how offering my materials development services for free has been worthwhile:

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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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Review: Work It Out with Business Idioms

Scroll to *get on with it, Pete* for review.

Do you remember that BBC article about how rubbish us native speakers can be at communication? I think that put me off teaching idioms for a bit. I came to think of them as ‘flowery’ (as the article suggests) and likely to cause misunderstanding. I feel like some of Chan’s maxims of good business communication reinforce that viewpoint and don’t seem very idiom-friendly…

… yet in a later chapter of the book (English for Business Communication, 2020) Chan then lists the 50 most popular idioms used in business contexts, suggesting that learning these may result in ‘effective communication with native speakers of English’.

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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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Review: Retrieval Practice

This resource by Kate Jones (2019) is a concise overview of all things retrieval practice – theory, research and classroom implementation.

It begins by defining the term…

‘… the act of recalling learned information from memory (with little or no support) and every time that information is retrieved, or an answer is generated, it changes that original memory to make it stronger’

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Wordwall assignments

Yes, another Wordwall post. No, I’m not on commission. It’s just a great tool.

I forgot to mention the ‘Set Assignments’ feature in my previous posts. It’s a really useful diagnostic tool.

  • Make your game. Click to share it and you’ll see the option to set assignment
  • Fill in the details, like deadline, etc.
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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.

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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:

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Materials writing and pub quizzes

Before lockdown I was an avid pub quizzer. It’s the perfect hobby for a materials writer because we accumulate tons of useless facts when researching articles. Here’s a list of some random topics I’ve written texts on in the last, pfff, 18 months maybe? I’ve discussed this with Clare Maas before – I’d love to see your updated list of writes, Clare!

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