May 29, 2011

Take a break and enjoy...

I don't know about you, but Languages are my passion. Not only teaching and being able to say different things in different ways, but the essence of Language itself. The way it is so intimately connected to our feelings and how it conveys different meanings to different people. I guess that's why I found this article so fascinating. If you, like me, take pleasure in understanding Language and how much it means, you'll love this. Consider this your personal time and take a little break to read:

20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words from Around the World


Spelling Game

About a month ago, I was looking for a fun option to review spelling with my young students. Where I work, we have a mimio (interactive board) in each classroom, so I thought that taking advantage of that was a great idea. Thus, using Power Point, I created a document for Spelling Contest . This is how I did it:

1- The first slide is only a "Game Presentation". This is what I used:

2- Then, I arranged 15 numbers in 3 columns.

3- Each number was linked to another slide that contained a picture and a word. I did this using hyperlinks. So the overall layout was looked like this:

So how does this work? I started the Power Point presentation so my students got to see the first slide only. It's amazing how excited they got, just to see that they were playing a game on the board, like the ones on TV!! :) As I moved to the second slide, I explained that they were going to be divided in two teams and each team would take turns picking their numbers. Each number was gonna unveil a secret word that they were expected to spell, in order to get a point. Since it was a small class, I had each student pick a number and spell the word by himself, having his group as a backup in case he had trouble with a letter.
The great thing about using this presentation, is that as you click on a number, it immediately takes you to the correspondent slide, which makes it really neat. I was very happy to see how excited they were to play this and how easily it was to get them engaged. It's like they didn't even notice that we were reviewing! 
If you have the opportunity to try this in class I would highly recommend it. If not, you can always use flashcards and stick them on the board or even easier; you can just write numbers on the board, and have student pick one, and then write a word on the board for them to spell it out. 

You might even come up with a better idea! If so, I'd love to hear it!
Good Luck!! XO

PS: I will be more than happy to send you this document via email, so if you want it just contact me and let me know!

May 18, 2011

In my backpack I have...

You like to take advantage of every single minute in class? This is a great activity to practice vocabulary that requires no prep at all! And to make it even better you can adapt it to different topics. It's important to keep the dynamics in this activity or else it could turn very slow and therefore, boring.

The teacher will start the game with the phrase: In my backpack I have... and then point to a student who will be expected to provide a suitable word (notebook, book, pencil case, etc.). Then the teacher will continue by saying: And in my pencil case I have... and again, the students will provide words to complete the sentence.

Depending on the topic you are studying you can adapt the activity. I suggest some variations:

  • For clothes: In my closet I have... 
  • For food: In my fridge/pantry I have...
  • For furniture or objects around the house: In my bedroom/kitchen/living room I have... 
You can always come up with your own ideas. 
Good luck! XOXO

Topics for debate

This week I've been working a lot on debates with my students and I noticed it's not that easy to come up with good topics to help them express themselves. For that reason, I thought I'd share a list of those which proved to be useful for me and may be useful for you too.
I usually choose one of the following alternatives when I work with groups debate:

Presenting a situation in form of a question and allow them to answer it and provide reasons for having answered a certain way. For example:

  • Is it ok for parents to allow their children to have unlimited and unsupervised access to the computer and the internet? Why or why not?
  • What activities would you plan if you were scheduled to babysit a 5 year old next Saturday and why? What should you consider in terms of safety?
  • Should teenagers under 18 have their parents consent to get tattoos or piercings? Why or why not? What would be the pros and cons in each case?
  • Should parents constantly monitor their children when they watch TV? What are the dangers of children being exposed to the TV without adult supervision?

Presenting a line, quote or topic and ask students to agree or disagree. Some examples are:

  • Parents should do anything to protect their children, even if it involves lying or covering their mistakes.
  • Nature vs Nature.
  • Death Penalty: The man playing God?
  • Euthanasia: Should we have the right to choose?
  • Going to college is not important. What really matters is how smart you are.
  • It's useless working hard for something you want because what's meant to be will be. 
The more controversial the phrases are the more interesting the debate will be. However, when working with debate it's super important to make sure we do not include topics that would offend our students. Some of these would include religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation, among others.

Good luck! XO