Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Qualities Brainstorm

Purpose: To practice speaking; review nouns and adjectives

Preparation time: None

Choose a quality, such as round.
Have learners name as many things as possible that have that quality (e.g., wheel, sun, moon, clock, etc.).
You may write down what your students say or you may have them write a list themselves.

Here are some categories:

Things that …

Are red/blue/black/white
Are round/square/oval/flat
Are hard/soft/liquid
Are sweet/sour/bitter/chewy
Come in twos/threes/fours
Have holes/handles
Use electricity
Are made of plastic/wood/metal/glass
Move quickly/slowly

To turn the activity into a game, have each student read his or her list while the rest of the class tries to identify the quality.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Best Practice: Pre-Teaching

Every activity has three parts: the introduction, the activity itself, and some kind of follow up. The introduction to an activity is called pre-teaching. This involves getting students ready to a reading, writing, listening or speaking task by:
  • activating students' prior knowledge to link the new material to something they may already know
  • teaching key, unfamiliar vocabulary using visuals, props, and examples
  • asking questions to find out what learners remember or think about the topic or grammar point so they can start thinking about it
  • enabling learners to anticipate content, facilitating comprehension
  • explaining the purpose of the activity
  • clarifying the learners' task

Before playing a song

  1. share the title of the song and ask learners to guess what it will be about
  2. ask true/false predictive questions based on students' guesses in #1
  3. discuss the topic and/or grammar focus of the song
  4. show a picture that sets the scene
  5. talk about the singer/musician and why he/she is important
  6. look at some words and phrases form the lyrics to pre-teach key vocabulary
  7. clarify what the listening task is
Before reading a story
  1. set the scene with pictures
  2. talk about the title and ask learners to predict what it will be about
  3. administer a questionnaire to find out what learners think or know about the topic
  4. generate some questions from learners related to the topic and revisit the questions after reading
  5. ask true/false questions about the topic
  6. do a word web, eliciting vocabulary from the students related to the topic
  7. clarify the reading task, e.g. reading for the main idea, looking for specific information, reading to form an opinion

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Who Did What?

Purpose: to practice the past tense in yes/no questions and affirmative and negative statements

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Materials: paper and chalkboard or whiteboard

Preparation: Plan to review past tense forms with the students before the activity. Pre-teach any vocabulary that might be unfamiliar, but try as much as possible to use vocabulary that the students already know. On a sheet of paper, make two columns. In the left column write the names of seven people. In the right column write seven actions in the past tense (e.g. wrote a letter to the teacher, played soccer with friends, studied English all weekend). Then draw lines connecting each of the seven people to one of the seven actions. The result will be seven sentences that make sense and are grammatical. Try to avoid using his and her to make it more challenging. These seven matches are the "correct" answers.

  1. Write the two columns (people and actions) on the board. Do not draw lines connecting them.
  2. Explain to students that they will ask yes/no questions to guess which person did which action. Be prepared to model this a few times, but use extra names and actions and erase them when you're finished modeling.
  3. Divide the class into two or three groups that will compete to solve the mystery. In turn, have a student from each group ask you questions, such as Did Maria write a letter to the teacher?
  4. If the answer is yes, then another student from the same group can ask a question. If the answer is no, then the turn passes to another group. When a group guesses the correct statement, they earn a point. Because there are seven sentences, a tie is impossible.
Variations: Have the students work in groups of three. Each student creates an original list, in two copies: one with the lines drawn (the answers), another for the other to students who will ask questions to solve the mystery of who did what.