Today I was experimenting with a cool way to support your classroom instruction and contextualize the language you are teaching. Even make a game of it!
I returned to Grant Robinson, maker of the wonderful Guess The Google game. It’s since been retired but now he has adapted it into Montage Maker.
The idea is fairly simple – type in a word and it will pull up photos in a montage (40 of them). Great for showing students and explaining a word, talking about a topic. Put the topic in and you’ll have a great backdrop!
Further, as I show in the screencast, you can download the montages and easily make games, ppts, flashcard sets. A very handy materials development tool! Here are two I made – I feel ….. and Where Are You? Get the ppts on EFL Classroom 2.0.
I’m busy producing a second edition of “Lesson A Day”. I’ve had lots of nice feedback and teachers are appreciating this organized but low key approach. Just click on the lesson idea and get the suggested resource. Enough for one a day for a whole month! Also use the voicethread for this and get the Teach / Learn coursebook with it.
I’m a big fan of drawing in the EFL Classroom 2.0. Last night, my parents related a story about a neighbors door mat (pictured). I immediately thought “LESSON!”, so here it is.
It would be great for students to make / draw their own door mats for the whole class. Maybe even have a contest. Watch the presentation / examples below – discuss as needed. Make one together as a whole class and then give out the A4 paper and let me do it! Check their language and sketch and they can then turn it over and do it as a final draft. Finally, present them for the class and display on the classroom walls.
The whole month of December, I’ll be highlighting here content/ideas/material that I feel is in need of some “daylight”. There is so much of value and it just needs members to open a window so others can see it/find it.
I’ve previously blogged about the “power of prediction” for language teaching and prompting student language production. Very much along the lines of guessing games. Here’s another stellar way – What’s Next?
They are videos that show a scene. The teacher pauses the video and asks the students to say what will happen next. This can either be by offering some possible outcomes (A, B, C, D) or asking students to use their own thoughts (write down some “gambits” for prompting student language – “I think….. is / age going to ….” | “… is are possibly going to …” | “… might ……” etc ).
This is a standard communicative language teaching activity – aka – Information Gap. Some other CLT activities you may know are: surveys, interviews, role plays, discussions/free talking. I choose 2 way tasks as the top dog because it is “controlled” and thus allows more scaffolding and success by students. Two, it has repetition. Finally, it is a task and has built in motivation to complete and finish. Tasks are a great way to get students “communicating” and not just memorizing or parroting without meaning. The basic thrust is to communicate meaning to another person. A two way task (aka – pair work ) does this with head on directness….
Basically you give students A and B similar but varying incomplete information. It can be text, dialogue, picture or even video. Then they have to fulfill a task to complete their own information. For example give two pictures – one for Student A / the other for Student B. Student A through questions, must discover and record/draw what is on the other picture. Student B, the converse. That’s “2 way tasks in a nutshell ! Even watching Mr. Bean can be a two way task. Just show the video with one or two students describing the action while the other has their back turned to the screen.
See these two way 2 way tasks for ready to go, “in the box” examples.
See this discussion for more resources along this vein; Pair work, communication games etc…. This is a great way to get your classroom “speaking” and producing language!
A couple “caveats”. One – don’t over explain the task! For instance, with these pictures below, let the students discover the way to ask each other for the information. This could be done in many ways! Numbered boxes, prepositions etc… Let the students control how to complete the task – they will enjoy it more. People love a puzzle! Two. If you are going to explain – model it. Do a dry run with a good student in the front and the rest of the students asking. Do the dry run without pens – pencils down! Then when in pairs, they can record the information.
Thinking skills are an essential reason why kids are in school. Our job is all about fostering them and getting students to think and develop, “creatively”. Recent studies in America have shown that children since the 90s have stopped progressing in the realm of creativity. (see Po Bronson’s Newsweek expose or watch the famous Ken Robinson TED video). We need to do more in our classes to foster this precious skill.
So in that vein, I offer some nice ONLY CONNECT games I made and which can be used as a template for you and your students to make their own. Even better if they make their own games and then challenge others to “connect” . 10 min. to make the game – 10 min. to play!
The games I made highlight 3 variations of the basic game.
1. Student / teacher created (either draw or spell)
2. Picture only
3. Word only (students draw the word too)
One good idea is to also have students cut and make cards. Then, the cards are simply put into categories, groups.
Get all the games on EFL Classroom in our Resources area. Enjoy and feedback always welcome. Please share your own games here too!
Writing storybooks or making picture books is a great way to reinforce grammar and vocabulary. It also gives students confidence and pride in “producing” something visible and tangible to measure their English language learning experience.
There are several steps to making a storybook and I’ll use my own Mr. X’s incredible Day/Yesterday as an example. Get the ppt/video here for use with students.
1. Tell the story with students. Play a video / use a storybook / use a ppt but pictures are essential! Go slow and exaggerate and use your voice/gestures to communicate vocabulary and content/context. Draw out their schema / background knowledge. You might get inspiration on the incredible Tarheel Reader where you can also download the books as poweroints.
2. Students re-tell the story. Note the vocabulary for the story on the board and students use this to make sentences to retell the story. Or, just show pictures and use them as a prompt to retell the story. See how I used Voicethread to retell the Mr. X story. But you can just take the words off the ppt and use a picture only ppt.
3. Writing. Students are now more comfortable with the story and vocabulary. Get them to write 6-10 sentences to outline the story. For each sentence , provide a prompt on the board for lower level students. Higher level students can add more information for that sentence number. The teacher monitors and helps correct/edit. I use this worksheet for Mr. X.
4. Bookmaking. Give students some sheets of A4. They fold in half and staple to make the book. Or fold again and cut the folds to make a mini book (students usually like this smaller book more!). Students cut and paste their pictures into the book and also write their text from the worksheet. Color, make a title page, borders and personalize.
There are many types of books you can make by folding/cutting paper. The most incredible resource for printable pdfs and videos showing bookmaking is Susan Kapusinsky’s “Making Books”. Here she describes how to make an accordion book. But look at all her pdf instruction sheets for many types. Also – this kid makes an amazing mini book from one sheet of paper! Learn more about instant books here.
eHow is a video site with rich, user created video about “How to ” do things. It also has lists and writing about “How to” but I find the videos most useful in class. It has grown after absorbing the site I loved and wrote about previously - Expert Village.
Some topics that have sterling video here are: arts and crafts (paper folding/origami for example), dances, recipes and writing. Just type in a topic and see what comes up. (but be sure to select “video” from the search bar.
“How to” videos can be taught in simple steps.
Here’s one way of teaching with an eHow video.
1. Previewing. Ask the students about the topic.
2. Ordering. Ask the students to try and put the “how to” into steps. Use sequencial transitions: First / Next / Then / After that / Finally
3. Watch the video. Pause if needed to check understanding.
4. Jigsaw. Give students the steps but “cut up” and out of order. Watch again and as students watch, they put them in order. (you can just copy and paste the “instructions” below each video, maybe changing some words)
5. Presenting/Produce. Mix up again and one student “teaches” the others by doing actions and saying the steps – like the video!
6. Extension: Write up on large poster paper the steps with pictures.
Remember: most of these videos can also be found on youtube. Find them there and download using http://keepvid.com That way, you have a reliable copy for use off line.
** Not your ordinary, endless list – just what’s number 1.
Show ‘N Tell
Yes, this is not just a stand by but a great activity for bringing the REAL and real communication into the classroom. It works in an L1 classroom and even works better in an L2 classroom!
The simple version is to have the children bring in a personal item that they want to share with the class. Make a whole lesson of it or schedule it (I prefer the whole lesson).
Make sure to do the following:
1. Model Show ‘N Tell by bringing in your own item! Get the children to ask you about it and give your own presentation and “show”.
2. Make sure to pass the items around. Don’t worry, even if fragile, kids will be careful (usually more so than adults). Children learn language by touching – believe it or not!
3. If you want to make a language lesson of it – write down some key questions / question words, so students can be prompted. Or the day before, brainstorm questions to ask! Write them on chart paper for reference during show and tell.
4. If you can, get them out of their desks and to another area. Sitting on the floor is best. Make it special!
5. Even try filming it! Parents will love this but make sure you run this by administration….
And do you know the bonus, for you the teacher? — Well, besides having a fairly easy lesson, you will get to know your students so much better! And there ain’t no better way to teach them better than to know them better!