A lesson: what a good one looks like


What makes lessons less effective than we would like them to be, whether we observe, teach or take them? It could be the absence of any of the ten important elements listed in this great post by Tom Sherrington. (By the way, he is a master of putting teaching principles into a concise and clear form (have you read ‘The silver arrows of education” or “Ways to focus on your teaching” on my blog?). It’s difficult to disagree with any of the points: explicit knowledge goals, modelling instructions and language, several kinds of practice… All very structured  and could be made into a checklist to tick off before going into the classroom – what do you think?

P.S. The title of the post is based on the new acronym I’ve found in the post: WAGOLL (What A Good One Looks Like). Just another word for a clarification of success criteria, but quite memorable.

Collaborative listening on Padlet


Here is another little gem from Daniel Martin at Keep It Simple Activities (a great blog, totally recommend it: start with the mini series about mini whiteboards). This post is about using Padlet to encourage students to do listening activities collaboratively, but in their own time. The teacher uploads a (difficult) recording onto a Padlet board; the learners listen to it as many times as they need, identify useful language and make a note of it on the board that everyone can see. In class, the teacher explores and explains the notes open class.

It’s hard for me to say what I don’t like about this activity. It’s easy to set up and use, it’s motivating and developmental, and it’s infinitely flexible and adaptable to the needs of the learners. If you try it, let me or the post author know!

Interleaving the curriculum


Here is an interesting thought for planning a course or a series of lessons: putting several contrasting topics together so that their differences and similarities are more noticeable and memorable. In art, Martin Robinson, the author of the blog post, suggests juxtaposing Brecht and Stanislavsky as an example.

In English language teaching, don’t we do the same when we teach the Present Perfect with Past Simple? Do we interleave enough or perhaps too much? Still thinking 🙂

Of books and bloggers


If you’re into transferring typical online activities into an offline medium (‘tweeting’ on slips of paper, ‘liking’ with felt-tip smileys), here is an ‘Instagram’ reading and writing activity from Eva Buyuksimkesyan you might like. In essence, learners discuss books and authors, and then write their Instagram bios and book posts with comments – but on paper. The best part is that in Eva’s version the students also took interesting pictures of their books to publish them later with a real hashtag #bookstagram, so the offline activity moved into the real online world – full circle.

So, who’s up for some ‘bookstagramming’?

The IKEA lesson effect


Do you know why we love writing our own activities even when there’s no time for lesson planning? I’ve found the answer on The Teacher Habits by Paul Murphy: when we write our own materials, we tend to overestimate their value, just like people who buy furniture from IKEA like it more because they had to build it themselves. Paul calls this ‘the IKEA effect’, which apparently is a psychological term denoting a type of cognitive bias. We love the fruit of our labour, so to say – even if the quality of published materials (or the activities in the teacher’s book) is better.

This explains a lot… Do you agree?

P.S. I’ve written about this blog before: for example, have a look at Mystery trash for the end-of-lesson routine or How can teachers be like cats? Great advice for teachers of any subject.


The word of the year: from 2018 to 2019


To revisit the tradition I started on this blog one year ago, I’m looking at the word of the year from the world experts.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, it’s toxic.

Cambridge: nomophobia

Merriam-Webster: justice

Collins: single-use

dictionary.com: misinformation

Which of them could be your words of the past year?

And, perhaps more importantly, which words would you like to make your own in 2019?

P.S. Incidentally, there’s a nice article about choosing your word of the year if you’re into this kind of thing – I’m still thinking about mine!

P.P.S. Happy New Year, everyone!


New Year at my home