Here is a very interesting article from Moodle about best practice for test writing, not necessarily on Moodle and not just for languages. Whatever you are testing, it seems that the key is to consider how the students are going to do the test and what you can improve to get more reliable results. There’s practical advice about introducing quick low-stakes checks, using mock tests, preventing cheating – a riveting read!
If your students don’t mind personality quizzes, how about giving them this amazing test by Adobe to determine their creative type? It reminds me of Meyers-Briggs and Belbin, only it’s visually much cooler. The questions are easy enough for B1+ (better if they are adults), and the results warrant loads of fun and discussions. There’s even an article about the test was made – really great stuff for those who’d like to question the results or simply find out more. And the best thing about this test is that it brings home a very important message: we can all be creative in our own special ways, even if we don’t dance or paint.
Have you tested yourselves yet?
Apparently, I’m a cactus.
If you enjoy Mario Rinvolucri’s activities like I do (and I’ve typed up one of his books into my Evernote page by page!), do check out this post by him with the EFL Magazine. He describes a wonderful minimal-resource activity, which on the surface is simply repeating the same question over and over, but if timed right can be a great source of learning. You can focus on grammar, comprehension, the meaning of life… One more for my database of all-time favourites!
Here is an interesting post by a teacher trainer and author Erika Osváth at the Oxford University Press blog about her favourite activity to engage her teenage learners’ natural curiosity: she recommends using posters through a cycle of lessons where students would first brainstorm their questions about the unit, and then add more and more questions and discuss possible answers in subsequent lessons (or lesson stages). It looks simple, but I like the continuity it offers, and the open-ended nature of the task. Something to try next week, perhaps?
Here is a collection of lesson plans related to TED talks from MENSA for kids. Now who would have thought they are so good? There are more than 20 different talks to explore, and the extension activities are absolutely to die for. There are also simple but entertaining questions that can be adapted to different ages and levels. Most are aimed at developing more or less abstract thinking or even critical thinking (core skills – check).
Plus, the choice of topics is great. I can imagine my lower secondaries enjoying some of these! And, to be honest, ‘Shape-shifting dinosaurs’ or ‘How are books a secret door’ are something I would like to do in the classroom.
P.S. If you’d rather do another talk, don’t forget about the great timesaver of a TED worksheet by Svetlana Kandybovich – I wrote about it here.
I was researching criteria for evaluating training providers the other day and stumbled upon this little gem: a list of questions to ask a training organisation (compiled by a training organisation – take it with a grain of salt). It’s an incredibly comprehensive booklet covering such areas as quality management, learning pathways, previous experience and price policies. How can it help English language teachers? Well, if you have a new corporate client or a very discerning private tutee, you might want to imagine them asking you these questions and prepare good answers – or think what else you might need to develop. It’s certainly made me think!
Now, here is a nice idea to keep the students focused on the learning objective! Connie Hamilton is writing about typical lessons when we have dozens of ‘teachable moments’ and it’s very tempting to go off on a tangent – but if we plan a series of questions to direct the students toward the learning objective, the learning becomes more effective. How do we do it? Turn the objective into a question, keep it consistent and keep it precisely worded. And ask this question again and again during the lesson.
P.S. I suppose it would be good to give students more time to think when you ask them a question like this (Hold that question); we can also encourage them to formulate the questions for themselves or their peers (The QFT Technique).