Never too old for Play-Doh


After my epic journey into the land of online teaching, I really want to do something tangible 🙂 How about Play-Doh from Martha Ramirez? She has excellent advice about using it with teens and adults: for metaphors about self-development, for introductions, for practising language (in flip stations, of course!). Who ever said that young learner teaching techniques can’t be adapted to the adult classroom?




How creative is your creative writing?


Here is a wonderful account of a series of lessons on creative writing and literacy: could be useful for those projects with lower secondaries 🙂 The author was inspired by a picture book called ‘Flotsam’ and brought in all kinds of exciting prompts for the children: ‘flotsam trays’ with objects that could characterise their imaginary owners; graphic organisers (‘investigation grids’) for the learners to practise writing and thinking skills; a real old camera; musical instruments and eBay advert templates. What a treat!

Bixby, how do you spell ‘bee’?


Bixby is the name of my favourite virtual assistant, but you might prefer Siri or, like Josh Underwood, Alexa. Whatever their name, AI virtual assistants are a fact of life and they can help us out in the classroom. If you need more convincing (or are simply looking for fresh ideas), just check out Josh’s amazing IATEFL poster page with links, references and a video where he explains how he uses AI assistants with primary and secondary students to encourage speaking, help with project work, save teacher time for more meaningful interaction… The list of possibilities is (virtually) endless! When do we start?



Graphic organisers on steroids

Here’s an unusual take on students’ notebooks: why not have movable parts and little pockets there? Probably only applicable to Secondaries, but it all depends on how you sell the idea to the students. I still haven’t decided if they are better than graphic organisers, apart from the obvious entertainment value. I like the kinaesthetic element about them, but I’m not sure how much language they would produce. Still, such a great idea… What do you think?

Can you make the walls work?


Here is a great post about ‘the working wall’ – a classroom display that focuses on tracking the development of students’ skills (e.g. writing). There are great illustrations and explanations, as well as the rationale for using a display like this: “An ever-evolving working wall is a fantastic way to model great writing, amazing vocabulary and to celebrate children’s writing journey.” The author recommends adding something to it daily, but also offers time-saving tips and ways to help learners interact with the display.

Now, you may be thinking: didn’t you write some time ago about too much decoration in classrooms? True. On the other hand, if a display like this helps learning and creates a stronger sense of progress, I for one am ready to compromise (or have a movable poster that can enter the classroom and leave it with a particular group of students).

What about you, would you use it in an ELT classroom, when you and the learners don’t really have a space of your own?

Hooked on a cuddly feeling


For a warm and fuzzy feeling from your Sunday reading, try this nice post from OUP about puppets in the classroom. I like how the author (Kathryn Harper) classifies all the possible uses, from lowering the affective filter to acting out stories and dialogues. By the way, I’m a big fan of soft toys and have been known to use them even with young adults (very ironically, of course! 🙂 ), but I have found something new in this post to experiment with.

Do you often use puppets or cuddly toys? Does it really help, and how?

Too much of a good thing: decorating the classrooms


Here is a thought-provoking post from the Teacher Toolkit about research into young learner classroom and how garish posters and displays can affect the learners’ concentration and learning. The videos the post links to are quite interesting: researchers speak about their findings and suggest looking at the classroom environment and taking into account the age of the learners and how easily they can be distracted. I for one have seen plenty of adults looking at some kids’ old classwork (with noticeable errors) instead of lesson materials, but it also concerns high-quality published posters. So, back to basics and grey walls?