Fall 2014 Reflections, Part 2

As mentioned in the previous post on the good and the bad in the lessons I taught, I wanted to share some of the materials that teachers were interested in during the semester. Most teachers that come through our training program  are very keen on improving their material development skills. Below are the PowerPoint template that teachers were most interested in learning (or just getting from me) and a list of fonts that I used throughout the semester in different documents and classroom materials.

Most popular PowerPoint

Here is a quick YouTube video of the slideshow. The file is a bit too large to share here. So if anyone is interested in getting this, comment or find me on Twitter (@esltasks).

This specific slideshow was created to lead a discussion in using poems and chants in the classroom. There are also several examples of how to use poems and chants as well as activities for participants. But in the video, I just recorded a few slides so people could see the primary feature that made this template popular.


Most Asked About Fonts

Next post:

  • Most Asked About Books
  • Most Implemented Activities

Fall 2014 Classroom Reflections, Part 1

Well, hello there strangers. I took this semester (actually not over until next week for me) off from the blog to focus on a couple other things. To make up for lost time, I will share a few bits and pieces from the previous semester over a couple of weeks. I tried to be objective about these and look at everything from my own perspective and the students’ perspectives. Hopefully they will be fairly useful for the few people that still visit my blog. My students are public school teachers in Korea.

I will just kick this off with the typical semester-end reflection, the good and bad of lessons.

The Most Well-Received Lesson

This was a simple reflection activity that we did when talking about how public school teachers in Korea can adjust task-based teaching (TBT) to their own situations. We had covered the main points for the 3 general stages of task-based lessons along with examples, but I have found that teachers often are less familiar with TBT or have a preconceived notion, pessimistic or optimistic, of TBT. So here is the simple procedure we followed:

Class period #1

Reflection Question

  1. In groups of 6, teachers discuss aspects of TBT that they are still unsure of or want to know more about.
  2. Based on this discussion, each teacher chooses one question to write on their Reflection Question slip (above pic). They write only their name and question. They do not write the answers.
  3. 2 groups exchange their questions. They discuss the other group’s questions and try to jot down the best answers they can create to the questions.
  4. Groups return the questions to the group that wrote them. Groups read over the answers they received from the other group and discuss them..
  5. As a class discuss their answers and what is still unclear or unanswered.

Class period #2

This just takes lots of prep on the trainers part, especially if the classes are back-to-back days, but it is usually worth it. I simply read through the questions and answers. I sorted them by topic and then created a (Halloween-themed) PowerPoint (PPT) to review and add my own explanations where I thought it was necessary. I provided information from previous class periods that we had covered, information from sources we did not use in the past, and examples of concepts.

I conducted the class as a informal workshop encouraging teachers to interrupt and ask questions and discuss. At the end of the class, the class basically agreed that is was the most helpful class we had together in terms of teaching concepts and ideas.

* This PPT has more words in it than I typically would use, but I felt like it was needed for this day. 

The Couldn’t-have-ended-soon-enough Lesson

We all have these lessons from time to time. Hopefully they are far and few between. And sometimes it’s a case of a lesson that has worked really well in the past, but bombs in another class. And this is the case here. FYI, all the steps are written in the PowerPoint as well.

  1. Display the metaphors from the above video before watching them. Ask the students to guess their meanings. (PowerPoint)
  2. Watch the video. After watching the video, complete the word chart with different words. It is probably best to do this as a whole-class activity.
  3. Show the ‘equations’ for creating metaphors. Do one or two using words from the class-created chart as well.
  4. In groups, students chose words from each category and write them on the respective colored note card.
  5. Collect the cards keeping the colors separated. Make a stack for each color. Each group randomly selects a card or each color. They use those words to create a metaphor and explain the meaning. be sure to leave the ‘equations’ displayed while they are doing this.

What were the problems?

I attribute the lack of success to a few things. But the primary culprit was how I presented the task. It went so well the previous time I used it that I thought I could coast this time as the teachers worked through everything on their own. But that was not the case. I should have been more involved in the chart task in step 2 and providing sample metaphors to get them started with clear goals.


The I-wish-it-didn’t-have-to-end lesson plan

This one I got from a book called Grammar Games by Mario Rinvolucri. In the original activity, students write one sentence about an event from their lives on 10 different post-its or cards. They include the month and year on the card as well. In the following class, correct any errors in their sentences. Then put the students in groups of 3. They create a game board by placing their life events in chronological order. From there, it is just a regular roll-the-dice game. Students take turns rolling the dice and moving along the life-event path. For each event that a player game piece stops on, the student who wrote the sentence explains the event in a bit more detail. You can set a time limit of 1 minute for life-event descriptions. That way all the groups are moving along together.

I tried to squeeze all this into a 50-minute class. Mistake. I would have carried it over to the next class, but the next class was 3 days away. The steam would have gone out of the sails by that point and we were crunched for time due to other things going on with the program. So 2 class periods really is the best way to go with this. I would also spend a bit more time helping students design their game board, the layout and decorations. Nonetheless, it was fun for them and fun to listen to their stories.



Next blog:

  • Most Popular PowerPoint Template 
  • Most Asked About Fonts


Rhyme and Rhythm in ELT chant and lesson plan

This is not a review of the iTDi course, but simply sharing the final task we had to complete for the certificate.

I have been wanting to add more song and chant sessions to the in-service teacher training program where I work. So when I came across the iTDi course Rhyme and Rhythm in ELT, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get those creative juices flowing again and hopefully learn a few things I had not thought of yet (and the course delivered just that!). I watched all the videos asynchronously as I signed up well after the live sessions were over. But the folks at iTDi were kind of enough to oblige me. So I used a poem that I shared here previously, and added another verse to it along with a bit more difficult tasks than what I provided on my blog.

Changes and additions:

  • Chant consists of full sentences to provide correct input. This is not necessarily a requirement, but just wanted to try something different.
  • Chant stresses natural speech as opposed to song-like rhythms.
  • More examples of time and more daily activities through 2nd verse.
  • Focus on collocations related to daily activities. This results in language that is a bit more difficult, but also very natural, common utterances.

Extended version:

Please, alarm! Please go away!

I’m notready for another day.

I stretch my arms up over my head.

I don’t really want to get out of bed.

I open my eyes to peak around.

No mother, No father, not even a sound.

I check the time, only seven-oh-three.

Maybe time for a few more Zzzzz.


Now I’m up at seven thirty-two.

Not much time, but I know what to do.

I scarf down some toast at seven thirty-three.

Wish I had some milk, how nice that’d be.

My teeth are brushed by seven thirty-eight.

I’m cutting it close, I hope I’m not late.

I’m out the door at seven forty-one.

Down the street for a record-breaking run.

Into my class at seven fifty-nine.

I take a seat, and everything’s just fine.

Accompanying lesson plan:


  1. Students listen to the chant. Before listening, display these questions for the students to think about while they listen: What part of the day is it? ; What does the person do in the song? ; What times do you hear?
  2. Discuss their answers after listening and before showing the lyrics.


  1. Display or distribute the lyrics to the students to check their answers to the listening focus questions.
  2. Explain any unfamiliar words (peak, scarfdown, whistle).
  3. Read and chant the song with the students.
  4. Chant together as a class. Use gestures that demonstrate the activities in the chant (TPR).
  5. Put students in pairs, Student A and Student B.
  6. Student A chants the first line, and Student B chants the next line.
  7. Partners continue alternating lines as they chant. Encourage them to use gestures to express the actions in the chant.
  8. After doing this once, partners switch roles or even switch partners to try it with someone else.
  9. If there are any brave pairs, have them perform the chant for the class.


Make a list of common daily activities that are collocations. Elicit some from the chant from students and add others as needed.

get up in the morning get out of bed have breakfast have lunch
have dinner go home meet my friends hang with my friends
have a cup of tea do homework watch TV take a shower
take a bath listen to some tunes hit the sack go to bed
take a seat record-breaking run cutting it close
  1. Teacher mimes one of the activities and uses fingers to tell what time he/she does the activity.
  2. Students watch and guess the activity and time.
  3. Students do the same activity in small groups.
  4. To reinforce (or HW or expansion of collocations or just as review in the next class period), provide fill in the blanks of daily activities collocations (similar to Rhyme-in-Time activities). This can be done on the board or on projector screen.
get up in the ______ ______ out of bed ______ breakfast _________ lunch
_______ dinner ______ home ______ my friends _____ with my friends
have a _____ of tea do _________ watch _______ take a ________
take a _______ listen to some

t _ n _ s

hit the ______ ______ to bed
___ _ seat record-breaking ___ cutting __ close


Dictogloss for a descriptive paragraph

I had previously shared a dictogloss format that was geared towards narrative paragraphs. This week, students are writing their own descriptive paragraphs about a place on campus where they like to hangout in their free time. So I thought I would share it here. I set it up to neatly scaffold into students having to reconstruct only parts of the text. It would be pretty challenging to reconstruct the entire text, so I adjusted.

Text (From Write Source) narrative paragraph

Step 1: Listen and write key words Listen for key words This step just aims to give the students their ‘taste’ of the text and of the genre. I read it slow to make it more comprehensible and make it easier for them to notice words.

Step 2: Discuss key words they identified and teach a few words that may be unfamiliar to some students

discuss words In this step, we first discuss words they heard (or think they heard). I make a list on the board and encourage students to make a list in their journals. The discussion is good for shaking out nerves of language class. They also get the chance to learn from each other. Then I introduce a few words that I thought may be unfamiliar to some. I show visual aids when feasible. All that is included in the actual PPT at the bottom.

Step 3: Listen and complete the mind map mind map mind map This is pretty straight forward as well. As it is a descriptive paragraph, I usually try to get the 5 senses involved as the concepts are easy for students to understand and personalize. I reinforce their ideas by restating (not reading) parts of the text. This gives them a bit more input as well.

Step 4: Retell the story to partner(s) retell and reconstructThis step just aims to get the students talking it out and organizing the details. I usually have them do this orally before they start writing. And if it is conducted in pairs or small groups, they are able to work out the organization of the text together rather than on their own.

Step 5: Reconstruct with partner(s) narrative paragraph _ reconstruction prompt As stated above, it is possible to have students reconstruct the entire text on their own, but those are pretty high expectations. So here, it is basically just a fill in the blank, but without the word bank. Students have to use their key word lists, mind maps, and each other to work out the missing details. The numbers represent the number of words that are missing. This is an optional feature of the activity as well.

Step 6: Compare reconstructed version with the original narrative paragraph _ comparing prompt

Here, they just compare their reconstructions with the original text.

Overall, the lesson went quite well. The ‘retelling’ task took a little more coaxing on my part than I would like, but that will probably be the case in many classrooms. Hope this can help in some small way. Have a good week!


Picture recall for vocab

14. 3. 7. - 1

As teachers, we appreciate a low-maintenance, fun yet effective activity that is flexible across topics as well as within the structure of a lesson. This one is a simple picture recall to check, share, and/or teach vocab.

  1. Display picture from book for 10 seconds. Turn it off.
  2. As a class, students try to recall everything they saw in the picture.
  3. Make a list on the board as they call out items.
  4. Display the picture again and have the students match the words to the items in the picture.

Pretty straightforward. I have talked with lots of teachers about this one, which leads to lots of different ideas when it comes to implementing it. A few of these ideas include:

  • If L1 is acceptable in your classroom, allow students to recall items in the picture in L1 if they cannot think of the L2 word. Good teaching opportunity when done this way.
  • Can use it to engage students at the beginning of a unit/chapter. This could be a good way to assess background knowledge of vocab or topic.
  • Can try to write the words based on where students ‘remember’ the items to be in the picture. Then do the matching for words that were written far away from the actual items.
  • Have students write all the words in their word journals even if the words are not specifically identified as key words in the curriculum.

Have fun with it!



Activity to help teachers learn student names

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.”

Main Objective

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]

  1. This is the main activity. “Name Bingo” is more like an exercise before doing this.
  2. 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”
  3. 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. :-D


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.

Materialspicture prompt examples from Activity Boxpost-task handout

other dictodraw prompts from the internet

Pre-task: Vocab brainstorm lists

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Main task: Dictodraw

    1. In their groups, students choose one person as the drawer, and the others are the describers.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.

    Post task: Description recall

    1. On the post-task handout, students list words, phrases, and/or sentences their group used while completing the dictodraw.
    2. This should be done individually at first. Then students compare their lists with their group members from the main task.
    3. Using the list, groups reconstruct 10 complete sentences they used in the main task.