Here is an inspiring post by Alastair Lane about writing ‘gamebooks’, or ‘choose your own adventure’ stories for language learners. Much as I love reading, I have never been a fan of those books: I just want to focus on one storyline and one world that the author has created for me. On the other hand, these books are a great opportunity for narrow input and revision, and they can be incredibly motivational provided they are written well and use elements of gamification. And, judging by the post, Alastair’s and his co-authors’ books are definitely worth checking out!
P.S. I’ve already linked to an article about QR codes to make adventure stories in the classroom; ‘A hero’s journey’ describes the power of narratives for learning. If you’re interested in the process of creating graded readers, check ‘Up a level, down a level’.
Here is a nice fresh activity from Teresa Bestwick to celebrate the winter mood: write topics on sheets of paper, have a snowball fight with them, keep one snowball each and write questions to interview your partner based on the topics. What makes this speaking activity different? The physical silliness of course – a perfect stirrer for a tired or fidgety group. Check the original post for a full description, or have a look at another of my favourites by this author: Scissor quizzes.
Here’s an entertaining take on the age-old game: ‘human’ tac toe for vocabulary revision. Cristina was inspired by the video of a game show and created her own version for the classroom. The rules only seem complicated when you read them first, but the video makes things much easier. If you have students write their own questions, it will become low-prep and high-yield – what’s not to like?
Here’s a fun activity to encourage young students to clean up the classroom before they leave: you select an object that could be rubbish, but could also be something out of place, and don’t tell the students until they pick everything up. Once someone has it (and the room is clean), you announce the winner. There are some caveats to this game, and I suggest you check the original post for more advice, as well as child protection rules of your school before you give out sweets as prizes – but boy do I love this game!
Now, this article about educational technology is definitely worth a read whether you are pro-tech or anti. The author (Paul Emerich France) begins with an analysis how individualisation provided by tech at schools can lead to limited interactions between students and deprive them of ‘points of convergence‘ in the classroom, the human dimension of learning. He goes on to look into possible reasons for our over-reliance on technology, and his conclusions are not very flattering. Perhaps it is easier for us? The article ends with a set of questions which we should ask ourselves before introducing technology into the classroom, and the final question goes like this: does this technology enhance human connection? I don’t think it can get clearer than that, do you?
Why do I always take a stack of A5 sheets to each new group? To me, the best way to learn the students’ names is to have them make name tags, or name plates – depends on how they fold the paper really. I don’t often go further than that though, yet Cristina from CristinaSkyBox has a lot of extra ice-breaking activities for you to try, complete with links to printable samples. And if you’re in a more serious mood (or teaching an EAP course), this post by Tyson Seburn can be a great inspiration. I didn’t expect pieces of coloured paper to evolve into academic reading, writing and revising so quickly!
I was reading this post about teaching critical thinking in history classes and thinking how great it must be to work in a school where subject teachers cooperate and teach their learners the same skills through different contexts. We don’t have that luxury in a language school! Still, I can use the historical images and the web app (Factitious) from the post and hope this helps the learners in more ways than one. For example, the ‘critical thinking test’ for spotting fake news from Factitious the author of the post describes is great for developing reading skills, internet search skills and of course critical thinking – several birds with one stone. Do try the test before giving it to students though: I got quite a few wrong!