If you’re feeling a bit under the February weather, here’s a great collection of activities to start your lesson on a high. You can choose anything from a viral Instagram photo to a ‘write-around’ activity, depending on how serious you want to be and whether you want to create a ‘hook‘ for further learning. The only technique on Terry Heick’s list that I would be wary about using is meditation – I’m definitely not an expert, and I’m not sure it has a place in every classroom!
If you’re into transferring typical online activities into an offline medium (‘tweeting’ on slips of paper, ‘liking’ with felt-tip smileys), here is an ‘Instagram’ reading and writing activity from Eva Buyuksimkesyan you might like. In essence, learners discuss books and authors, and then write their Instagram bios and book posts with comments – but on paper. The best part is that in Eva’s version the students also took interesting pictures of their books to publish them later with a real hashtag #bookstagram, so the offline activity moved into the real online world – full circle.
So, who’s up for some ‘bookstagramming’?
My own attempt at using The Character Scrapbook for one of my favourite characters of all times: Ayla the Cro-Magnon.
Another useful find at freetech4teachers: an interactive character profile from Scholastic which can be completed online and then printed or saved digitally. Elementary and lower secondary students will probably enjoy it the most, though I can see adults appreciating the structured approach and bright colours. You don’t have to limit yourself to book characters, either! Why not use the template to create a new character for an original story, or describe a family member (or a pet – there are options for animals)? Simple and nice.
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!
If you ever feel like you don’t want to spend another minute in front of the classroom at the whiteboard, this post from Daniel Martin might be of help. It’s also good for developing speaking, writing (and spelling!) skills and learner autonomy, assists vocabulary revision and retention, creates an enjoyable challenge and brings variety. In fact, if you don’t have mini whiteboards, something could be fashioned out of paper, though the activity does involve wiping. Perhaps tablets? Anyway, the activity is interesting, and there are a few links to other whiteboard ideas at the end of the post – a nice candidate for morning bookmarking!
Update: And here’s another post in the series by Daniel: how to use mini whiteboards for collective answers in scattergory-like games.
A screenshot of a PicLit picture I made with their word prompts
Here’s another teaching tool to bookmark. Yes, of course, you can always do a Google search for a nice copyright-free picture, add some words to it in Photoshop – but why all the hassle if there is a website where somebody has already done it for you? There are lots of pictures to choose from and type on, but I would recommend trying out the drag-and-drop wordlist: it’s a great timesaving and learning feature. You can also read the teaching tips, see what others have created, and save your own pictures with a link that can be sent to the students.
How can it be used? Well, writing and speaking prompts come to mind first; vocabulary revision; flash reading – everything is better with a picture 🙂
Now, this is what I call graphic organisers! If you’re looking for a fun writing activity for younger learners (I would say up to 13 years old, but I could see myself adapting some of these to an adult classroom), go no further – seriously, Make Beliefs Comix are amazing. There are sections on Science, Friendship, Holidays and a separate category on ESOL with teaching advice and videos. Even better, the characters are very diverse, not just ethnically, and there are prompts that could encourage discussions about bullying or the news. And the best part is that you are allowed to download and use any of the printables in the classroom or at home free of charge, no strings attached.
So, which one are you going to use this week? 🙂