Click to download the list for week 1.
This idea comes from one of the teachers in our training program. It is a pretty low-maintenance but effective activity for building some rapport with your students and showing them you care. Part of our job is showing the love. And I really like her main objective of ‘care’. I am sharing now as some teachers are already planning for next semester. I will re-post at the beginning of next semester as well.
I will hand it over to her from here…
“I’ll share my humble (!) name-memorizing activity I do at the beginning of each year. Once I do this, I always feel that I’m in a better position to bond with students throughout the year.”
Remember every single student’s name within one week, and impress students by showing them I already know their names, and I care about each one of them. It has two stages. Usually I do each stage in a different period.
Stage 1. [Name Bingo]
1. First distribute a usual bingo board.
- Students think that they’re going to play a same old bingo game with English words.
- I surprise them by saying, “Today, we’re going to play bingo using your own Korean names. I want you to fill out the bingo board with your classmates’ names.”
- Students usually find it very refreshing to use Korean to play bingo none other than in English class, and they also ask for help because they don’t know their classmates’ names well.
2. Then teacher swoops in and gives a love-exuding worksheet that has all the students’ names on.
3. Play “Introducing oneself” Bingo. (Actually, I don’t have a name for this;-D)
Teacher writes this on the blackboard.
- “My name is OOO. I like/love/ enjoy __________.
- My favorite ______ is ____________.
- I’d love to ___________________.
- I’m going to call _______________.”
I demonstrate how to introduce myself with this format. At the end, I call a student’s name on my bingo board. The student comes up, and he/she introduces himself/herself using the format, and at the end he/she calls another student’s name on bingo board. This is continued until a certain number of students finish the bingo.
For this game, students can introduce themselves to their classmates without feeling too much pressured in the beginning of the semester, and also they can remember each other’s names better.
(Besides, since the key structure of Lesson 1 is usually “I’m going to____”, I can link this to Lesson 1 naturally.)
While playing this game, I also try my BEST to match students’ faces with their names, so that I can do better at the next stage of ‘name-memorizing activity.’
Stage 2. [Teacher gets tested]
- This is the main activity. “Name Bingo” is more like an exercise before doing this.
- When I enter a classroom at the next time, I tell them, “Everyone, I know all of your names already. Do you want to see? Alright, then I’ll turn around for 20 seconds. During that time, please feel free to change your seats to confuse me. Ready? Start”
- After 20 seconds, I turn around. From the first row, I look at a student and call his/her full name. This is continued until I do it to the last student. If I get someone’s name wrong, I apolozise him/her, saying, “I’m sorry. I forgot your name. I’ll make sure to remember your name next time,” and I also give a candy. Usually the student who gets candy likes it better.
Updating the pre-task on this one. The new collaborative brainstorm to help other groups creates more buy in from the students.
This one I just borrowed from a book titled Activity Box. I changed up the flow of the lesson a bit, but the main activity, dictodraw, is pretty common around the world in ESL/EFL classrooms.
I have used this with a variety of students and teachers as well. Teachers tend to like it more than students for some reasons.
This task helps students:
- collaborate to recreate a picture.
- practice descriptions of appearances.
other dictodraw prompts from the internet
Pre-task: Vocab brainstorm lists
- Put students in groups of 3-5. Give each group one of the pictures to be used in the dictodraw main task. But this will not be their picture. It will be another groups.
- Groups brainstorm words that could be used to describe the person in the picture. These word lists will be used by other groups during the main task.
- As groups brainstorm, walk around and offer a few words or phrases to help get them started. Remind them that they are making lists to help other groups later in the class.
- If time allows, groups rotate the pictures. This way there will be two lists of words and phrases to help the complete the main task.
- In their groups, students choose one person as the drawer, and the others are the describers.
- Hang one piece of drawing paper on the wall for each group. Give the picture prompts and pre-task word lists to the describers. The drawer is not allowed to look at the picture. Make sure the picture that each group is using in the main task is not a picture they brainstormed in the pre-task.
- Describers tell the drawer what the person in the picture prompt looks like. Drawers listen and try to draw the person based on the descriptions they hear.
- On the post-task handout, students list words, phrases, and/or sentences their group used while completing the dictodraw.
- This should be done individually at first. Then students compare their lists with their group members from the main task.
- Using the list, groups reconstruct 10 complete sentences they used in the main task.
Main task: Dictodraw
Post task: Description recall
This activity is pretty straightforward. And it is adaptable to different ages and needs. I typically just hold a brief brainstorm and discussion about stressors in the students’ lives. I just make a list on the board as we talk. I ask a few students to describe how they handle the stressors as well. This helps them when they create their own stress logs.
Then we read through the sample stress log and discuss how their lives compare to the student’s in the log. Then students just make their own stress log for the day or previous day. After writing the logs, they just share in pairs of small groups.
The activity makes students aware that they all have stress and try to deal with it in their own ways. It is also a good opportunity to learn techniques for dealing with stress.
Sharing the word and pdf files. The current stress log is aimed a bit more at elementary students, use the Word file to input different stressors more relevant to your students.
So since I began taking part in the #KELTchat experiences on Facebook and Twitter, I have come across a variety of ideas and resources. I have been thinking on ways to introduce ideas into the training program here. Having them sign up for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. is one option, but we have a specific course within the program that focuses on computer skills for language teachers that tackles these things. And some teachers are more receptive to social media than others, and I am basically tasked with showing them lots of activities and finding ways to adapt them for textbooks and, to a lesser extent, into teaching ‘approaches’.
So in the end, I have decided to make use of all the great material that I come across in a workshop-like training session I am temporarily dubbing Voices from the Classroom. Right now, I plan to use the idea on 2 separate sessions out of 20 training sessions per course. I am hoping that through all the great ideas, teachers will get just little more motivated to be more active in PLNs (and improve the classroom experience for all!). And even if you are not a full-time trainer, do a little in-house training session with co-teachers using one of their own classroom ideas.
I tested it out for the first time using an activity from Kevin Stein’s blog titled The world’s greatest [a) job vocabulary b) modal verbs c) plural 's' d) spelling] lesson ever. He actually had no idea I was going to do this, nor have we ever interacted in anyway whatsoever I am pretty sure. Check out his blog, The Other Things Matter.
The basic flow of the class was:
- Read through the steps in the procedure up to the point where students reflect on the ‘point’ of the lesson.
- Teachers complete the activity all on their own. I offered no input whatsoever. I wanted teachers to look at the activity from the point of view of teachers as well as students.
- After completing the activity, I posed a list of questions to reflect on the activity. I also provided the reflection activity in the final two steps of the procedure as well as the optional extensions after discussing the questions at the bottom of the page.
While they worked through the procedure, I basically just stepped aside and observed. I noted down how each group of 4 teachers tackled this. Lots of overlap with a few differences in how they handled it.
- Put two desks together to have more space
- Organized the whole chart with blank post-its first
- Wrote on almost half of the post-its before consulting a dictionary
- Didn’t discuss forms explicitly
- Roles naturally developed among the group members- no explicit assigning of roles.
- Put two desks together to have more space.
- Completed the task column by column. Placed 6 post-its for one column, wrote on the post-its, and then moved on to the next column.
- Spent more time discussing and thinking about word choice.
- Not much use of dictionary.
- Used different colors of ink for each column.
- Roles naturally developed among the group members- no explicit assigning of roles.
- Used only one desk.
- Went column by column as well.
- After completing 3rd column, had to reorganize to make better use of limited space, but still did not choose to use a 2nd desk.
- Moved through the task quicker than the other two groups.
- Used dictionary from the beginning of the task.
- Heavy discussion about word choice as well as forms (grammar).Roles naturally developed among the group members- no explicit assigning of roles.
- Lots of laughter discussing and re-thinking who would be good for certain jobs.
Questions that I used to reflect on the activity are listed below with some of their answers. Pay special attention to the questions about feelings towards the class before doing the task and after doing the task.
How did you feel about the task before starting?
- Felt like it would be a waste of paper.
- Thought it would be too confusing- too many job cards.
- We plan to use post-its in our practicum, so… (trailed off do to interruptions, but point was that she was interested in how effective/engaging it would be)
- Felt like the name was a bit too ‘arrogant’, so I had sort of a negative attitude about it.
How did you interact with each other? (roles, problem-solving, decision-making, conversations)
- Discussed word choices.
- Everyone just sort of took a job.
- Funny talking about who would be good for what job just between our group members after finishing (They did this on their own- not part of the original procedure).
What kind of difficulties did you have as students?
- Insufficient vocabulary, but that is something we would have prepare students for.
- Lots of structures to work with- daunting.
- Too many job cards.
What kind of difficulties did you have as teachers?
- Insufficient vocabulary (L1 is Korean).
- Classroom management might be tough. (Have never seen a classroom task where this is not mentioned by at least one teacher.)
How did you feel about the task afterwards?
- Felt much better about it after doing it than I did before doing.
- Felt like I accomplished something because I could look at our neat post-it chart.
- I really want to do this in my classroom.
- There is a unit in the Middle School book called I have a dream that this would be great for.
What would you change about it for your classroom?
- Use different shapes of post-its for each column.
- Use different colors of post-its for each column.
- Decrease the number of columns.
- Use it as a review at the end of a unit.
- Not use the least interesting jobs because feelings could be hurt when recommending people for jobs.
- Use less job cards.
How would you follow-up this activity?
This was quite interesting because they had very similar ideas to those listed in the blog. After discussing the following ideas, I gave them the optional extensions listed in the blog.
- Conduct job interviews.
- Write letters of recommendation.
- Write emails.
- Select one job and related cards and take them home to write sentences for homework.
To sum it all up, the class was pretty solid from start to finish. I could see the teachers slowly working through their own beliefs about the activity and how to use it in their classroom, as well as getting a chance to flex their vocabulary muscle. I think the fact that I made the teachers responsible for working out all the kinks on their own helped them find ways to tweak small things for their own classrooms and work through language problems their students might have.
By the end of the class, everyone was all smiles and loving the activity. Next spring, there may be a few secondary classrooms around Seoul utilizing this! A big thanks to Kevin Stein for his forced involvement. Did I mention, check out his blog, The Other Things Matter.
Teachers congregating and giggling about job recommendations.
Today in class, we did just a fun, undemanding task for a cold Monday. We just talked about what makes you happy. Everyone was chatting away and having a good time. I don’t go into the class with any specific lists of words or structures to teach or material (thank you Dogme), and I just sort of pick up where the students leave off in class discussions.
It combines 3 great simple task types: listing, ranking, comparing. These 3 in this sequence are great week-starters as they give the teacher lots of chances to interact with students on a more personal level, and students appreciate easing them into the week. The effects are evident in the following classes- unless it is a test week.
Materials: None! (Thank you Dogme)
Pre-task: Teacher-led brainstorming (listing)
I treat brainstorming very much as a classroom discussion most of them time. The idea here is to make use of all the students’ life experiences to introduce vocab. Students will learn words from each other as you write them on the board. Of course, you can clean up any errors that appear. You can also add other words that come to mind while talking with the students. I failed to take a snapshot of the board, but I will recall some of our list here.
kids’ happiness, good students, husband’s payday, snowy days, shared experiences and feelings, good movies (books/movies), less homework (training program, so they have had to put in some time with homework), music, good food, good wine, teasing Matthew, exercise, IIETTP (name of the program), ‘me’ time, vacation/travel,…
We spent about 15 minutes. I followed up on some of their ideas getting them to expand on things, and sometimes they would follow up.
This is great way to ease into a lesson and loosen things up a bit.
Main task: Rank
Depending on time you can do a variety of things here. Typically, due to time, I put students in pairs and have them work together to make a top 10 list of things that make them happy. Top 10 lists can be a bit daunting for some students, so I usually go with pairs. But it would be perfectly fine to have them do this on their own for a few minutes and then get with their partner at which point they would compare and re-rank to collaborate on a top 10.
Students have to work with each other and express agreement or disagreement here. They have to concede a few things here and there. This is good for social skills of course. All in all, usually a pretty active main task, and it was today.
Students find a new partner and compare the two collaborated lists. They talk about what is similar/different. It inevitably leads to a little expanded discussion on a few of the points.
If you wanted the students to be a bit more focused on writing something, they could transfer their lists to a Venn diagram to compare more explicitly. For teachers that are expected to spend some time on structures, introduce a few sentence prompts that can be used to compare their lists. Something like:
- I have tease Matthew at number 5, but you don’t have it. Why not?
- I see that you ranked ‘me time’ at #1, but for me it is #2. I think ‘exercise’ is more important, because…
I usually have the students take pictures of their post-task partner’s top 10. Then, after comparing with another pair, students write sentences using the content in the two lists. The use of Venn diagrams makes this writing exercise a bit easier as well.
Since I shared the Dictogloss sample yesterday, I thought I would stick with the family theme a bit longer here. This is all about describing a fun family memory and just learning a bit more about each other.
Pre-task: Individual brainstorm and descriptions
Since it is a more personal topic, I try to make myself as scarce as possible in this pre-task and give the students lots of planning time. I just provide the directions and answer any questions they may have before starting. All they need to do is brainstorm a few good memories at the top of the planning handout. Some students will probably ask you if it has to be a good memory. I usually tell them to choose good memories or at least something they are comfortable sharing with the whole class. I haven’t had any uncomfortable situations, but it is something to keep an eye on as they move through the pre-task.
Then students choose the memory that means the most to them or is most vivid. They use the chart at the bottom of the planning handout to write a description of memory. Depending on student level, you can provide simple charts or encourage them to write a paragraph. I usually give students the option to choose whichever is more comfortable to them. It is best if the teacher walks around and checks up on students while they are doing this. Students will definitely have questions about word choice.
If you think your students will need a bit of a push to get started, certainly do a teacher-led brainstorm and provide an example of your own good memory. Students usually like to learn a bit more about their teacher anyway. Weddings, vacations, picnics, sporting events, and holidays are usually good for this. If you have a family memory related to student source culture(s), use that. It wins you points big time with them!
Main task: Share and guess
You can do this as a whole-class task or in groups. Depends on your own classroom set up and management style.
This is a simple
guessing matching task.
Students cut their charts. Collect all the memory description charts (or sentences, paragraphs, etc.) and redistribute them. Students read the description (or content in the chart). The other students listen and just have to match the memory to the student. After finding the matching student, I encourage students to ask follow-up questions to learn a bit more about each other, but it is not a necessity for the task.
Usually I tell them to let me know if they get their own so they get a chance to read their own. But you could just omit this parameter to make it a bit trickier. Students rarely suspect that the reader is the person who wrote the description.
Also, it is useful to have a sample description using spoken language for the students to look at as they read the content in the chart. Again, it is best to use the same memory description if you provide one in the pre-task.
Post-task: What I learned
This is just a simple task reflection activity. In pairs, they use the What I learned handout to write down one thing they learned about the other students. You can give each student 5 specific students to focus on or let them just have the freedom to reflect and recall on whatever they can. I try to get them to not just repeat details of the memories, but write something new they learned about that person, not just the memory (repetition to drive this point home).
If a focus on forms is in order, I usually teach a simple structure such as I learned that… When I provide examples of the structure, I use actual content from their main task memory descriptions.