Sweet memes are made of these


Here’s a great post about the value of memes for learning by Glenn Wiebe. Don’t be surprised that it’s mostly about history and social studies – a lot of his ideas can easily be implemented in an EFL classroom. Also, he does talk about literacy integration, vocabulary learning and even the Frayer model. Some of example activities are to use memes as discussion starters or project tasks, and he recommends several tools for creating memes online. Definitely something I’m going to try out in the new year, and what about you?


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 🙂 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 posts , and I hope the author of Tekhnologic comes back some day.

English through PC games


If you haven’t seen Nik Peachey’s latest post about a YouTube channel/website for learning English through multiplayer games, do check it out. Nik describes the website in enough detail for the reader to understand how it works, and then suggests how it can be used in the classroom. I actually went to the website and watched a few videos: it’s really great authentic material, and a lot of work has been put into it. You would still need to plan how to use it all best, it’s not something you could just assign for self-study or teach off-the-page. For example, what language in particular do you want to illustrate? Which games do your learners like, and which they hate? What kind of discussions do you think this or that clip is going to cause?

So, I’ve got a lot of questions, but I think it might be a good idea to experiment: after all, what do I see every time I go into my lower secondary class? A group of heroes squashing a zombie rebellion 🙂

Teaching paperless 3 of 7 (disadvantages of tech)


To continue the topic from another angle: learners prefer books –  don’t they? Here’s a blog post by Michael Griffin who was talking to a Korean student about why they don’t really use learning apps on their phones. Some really interesting insights there: for example, the student said that the phone is a personal thing that is used to relax after a hard day of work or studies, so no one uses it for more studying. Could that be true for your learners and for you as well? Is this why we don’t really use tech for learning as much as we probably could?

The Quizlet Quest

quzlet for blogs

Have you noticed how much learner training is actually needed for those cool apps and websites? This year, I’ve decided I’m not leaving it to chance. Instruction videos and presentations can do only so much. I believe in learning by doing 🙂

Here’s a 15-minute classroom quest I’ve cobbled up using Canva and my own ideas. It looks long, but the steps are important: if you don’t have the students go through the steps, they might never find out about all those cool functions. I’m just going to add a practice set and some kind of reflection activity at the end depending on which group it is. Let me know if you decide to try it too!

P.S. Peter has an interesting post about Quizlet – I wonder whether he found the Teacher account worth getting after all!

Constraints and choices for reading


Here is a very recent find: an illustration of how a simple collection of facts can become an engrossing adventure. Tom Kuhlmann writes about converting an electronic template to create a gamified activity, but for me the tech side of things is not as interesting as the whole approach. Imagine you have a series of short bios, or other texts about several characters. Normally, you would add a picture to each text, and that’s it. What you could do, however, is to add an interesting context and a challenge: the texts become interviews after an incident or crime, and you are a police detective who has to put the pieces of puzzle together. And then, very importantly, you introduce some constraints: each text is worth a number of points, and you can read only about several people before you are ‘ousted out of the building’.  So, from static passive reading you are moved into the realm of critical thinking: who do I choose, how do I continue my search and not fail? Interesting stuff, and seems easy enough on the surface (probably not so easy when you start building those activities, but at least now I know how they work!).

P.S. The principle of the activity reminds me of one of my favourite educational games – The Quandary. Has anyone ever tried it?

Missing a class (not)


Here is a nifty little idea that’s been sitting in my Pocket for several months: a one-to-one teacher has found a wonderful way to compensate students for late cancellations (when a student cancels and you have to take their money even if the lesson did not happen – don’t you feel bad? I know I do….)

So, what can we do? In the remaining time you can make an e-lesson for the student instead: several tasks on Google Docs with video instructions made on Zoom. Easy? Perhaps not, because you still need to think of a way to keep the student engaged and committed to the task. Yet the author of the post does it wonderfully: just check out her videos and best practice tips.

One might say that it’s just another example of flipped (or at the very least blended) learning; but to me it looks unique, and shows deep commitment to students and their learning progress. What do you think?