More objects for the teacher’s bag


My posts are becoming (perhaps alarmingly) very practical: at the moment, nothing is more exciting to me than my own bag with cool markers, counting sticks, gaming dice, story cubes… Someone needs to stop me πŸ™‚ Here’s another addition to the topic: this little article from As the name of the site suggests, it’s quite YL-oriented, but some things will definitely be useful for adults. Apart from the ubiquitous bomb timers, rope and blue tack, there is a blindfold (such a great idea to take one of those you get for free from airline companies!), small bean bags of several colours and even… plastic food. Have you ever brought plastic food to your lessons? I actually might do.

P.S. I recently linked to Lisa Jayne Wood’s post about her teacher’s bag, it’s worth checking out too.


Not causes, but consequences


I was looking through my hoard of interesting posts, trying to decide what I’d like to share here today (it’s great to revive old threads and ideas!), but this one by David Geurin, which was published today, resonates with me the most: we shouldn’t ask students about reasons for their bad behaviour, because it will only teach them to justify it. It’s best to talk with them about the consequences of their actions and about taking responsibility. Simple, but so true!


Worth a thousand words


Here’s a very useful page from New York Times: 42 curated pictures from their “What’s going on in the picture” section. The pictures have no captions or explanations, so are a perfect tool for building hypotheses and discussions. Then you can click on the link and find out more, to have the students check their ideas; there are sometimes comments by other students, as well as more discussion tasks. An excellent resource with built-in feedback!

P.S. And if you prefer Dixit-style picture prompts, NY Times has it all. This article has a great collection of prompts, lesson ideas and absolutely amazing moving pictures – all kid-friendly, mind you.

Business what ifs


This list of conditional conversation prompts is a really simple thing to share, but I spent quite a lot of time looking for it! Usually, questions with conditionals online are all of the same type: “If you were God (fruit, an animal) for one day, what would you do?” , or “What would you buy if you won a million dollars?” Nice, but awfully repetitive and more often than not are too wacky and can’t be related to the lesson topic. Now, this list of business-related questions is a perfect timesaver: each of these questions can become a conversation prompt, or they can be used in a quick discussion game, but the best thing about them is that they are based on workplace situations: what would you do if you woke up with a cold, what would you do if you had fewer meetings, if your employer took away some of your perks, if you were offered a job abroad…. Just what a busy teacher needs πŸ™‚

The real debate


There are a lot of useful resources on debates online – or so it seems at first glance. When I decided to go slightly deeper than a glorified discussion, it turned out that most debate tasks and collections of functional language only deal with ‘agreeing and disagreeing’, and there’s very little that would help ELT teachers to highlight the differences between a formal, structured debate and a two-side discussion. I remember that this old article by Daniel Krieger once dotted all the i’s for me, and it still seems very useful. It’s much more academic than most posts about debates, and has great ideas to develop strong arguments. What do you think, is there anything better you’d recommend? πŸ™‚

Cold and learning


I was dealing with a minor cold last week, and I got reminded how much a small thing like that can affect our cognitive functions! Apparently, researchers knew it all along. They found out that the cold virus changes our brain chemistry for a while, and our reaction slows down, our learning ability goes down and we can’t even retrieve information the way we normally do. Well, I couldn’t even make myself write a paragraph of text!

So, what do you do if a student comes in for assessment and they are a bit under the weather? Perhaps it would be a good ideaΒ to let them re-write the test, or give them a slightly higher grade? Or just let them brave it?

Multiple career benefits


Here is an interesting HBR article that is the total opposite of Essentialism because it says it’s actually more beneficial to have more than one career: you feel happier and more fulfilled, you develop skills in one job that can be transferred to another, you build a wider social network and find creative interdisciplinary solutions. In short, ‘when you follow your curiosities, you will bring passion to your new careers’ – and this thought really makes me happy. Sometimes I can’t decide whether I want to be a teacher trainer, a materials writer, an examiner, a manager or a teacher (and don’t get me started on all the age groups and subjects!), and it’s wonderful to know that there are people who thrive in multiple careers.

Now, is anyone out there like me? πŸ™‚

Do learners ‘copy mistakes’ from each other?


Have your students sometimes refused to work with a weaker-level partner?

I’ve recently read this interesting post by Betty Azar responding to a teacher’s worry that students will acquire wrong models if you put mistakes on the board during a delayed error correction stage. She explains why fossilisation is not going to happen: error correction sessions develop the learners’ abilities to self-monitor, reinforce target language and generally help them become more aware of grammar cognitively.Β  Good arguments that can be shared with students, I think! (But I’m still going to mark those incorrect examples with an asterisk or a different colour, just in case :)).

The good old grammar auction


I’m not a big fan of spending time on games, but the other day I actually succumbed to Kahoot πŸ™‚ So, there’s a time for everything, even for a grammar auction! Whatever your views on the value of ‘fun’ in the classroom, this great PowerPoint template by Tekhnologic is still worth checking out. The slides have gavel sounds and click-sensitive fields, look very nice and can be easily copied and adapted. There are also links to other posts about this activity.

P.S. I keep stumbling upon those cool older postsΒ , and I hope the author of Tekhnologic comes back some day.

Visuals for learning


I knew it, I knew all along – visuals are important for language learning! πŸ™‚ I don’t know who decided that drab blocks of text are serious and thus effective, but I know that Halloween pumpkin paper was there for a reason. Seriously, do check out this guest post at Learning Scientists (the website that is slowly but surely becoming my favourite reading material). Anyway, Chris Drew writes about educational research related to images in learning and why the debate is actually happening. There are a lot of interesting quotes and even an infographic, in the true spirit of useful visuals, and the conclusion is: if you create materials, “go for nuanced, subtle design aesthetics that don’t drown out the focus of the lesson”.Β 

By the way, warm tones are also good – don’t you love this blog’s colour scheme? πŸ˜‰