Here is a summary of some of the teacher ideas that were shared last night. If I’ve missed anyone out, please accept my apologies! Also, if we’ve borrowed these ideas from anyone else, please accept our gratitude. I’ve summarized about 18 activities below, but many more ideas were shared. What I loved was the generative nature of the meeting. As people were sharing their ideas, other ideas kept popping up, and by sharing, our ideas grew to fit all kinds of teaching situations. Also, I tried my best to summarize everyone’s activities. Any mistakes or omissions are my own fault J. Anyway, as you can see, it was a very fruitful evening!
Password: The class is divided into two groups, and two chairs are put in front of the room. Then, one person from each team comes up the front and sits on the chairs with their backs to the whiteboards. A vocabulary word is written up on the board, and then the each team has to give the person at the front clues so they can guess what word is up on the board. Hilarity ensues!
Add the adjective or adverb: Create a short story with just three or four sentences without any adjectives or adverbs. At each noun, stop and have the class brainstorm as many adjectives as possible. Put the choices up on the board. Then, read the story again and stop at each verb and have the class brainstorm as many adverbs as possible. Put the choices up on the board. Once all the possible adjectives and adverbs have been exhausted, have groups rewrite the sentences with their choices of adjectives and adverbs added in. Great for practicing collocations!
Liar Liar: Give each student three pieces of paper on which they have to write three unique things about themselves. Then, bring three students to the front of the class and have them put their papers in a pile. The teacher picks out one paper and reads it aloud. The students at the front all have to act as if what the teacher read aloud is true for them, but it will only be true for one person. The class has to ask questions to figure out who is telling the truth. Points can be awarded. Great for getting the class to know each other at the beginning of a term.
Vocabulary Review: This is a really active activity for the teacher. A topic is chose, such as body parts, and the student then have to brainstorm as many body parts as possible for the different areas of the body (head, torso, organs, etc.) As groups guess a body part, the teacher writes that body part up on the appropriate area of the board. As groups run out of ideas, they drop out of the game. The last group still generating ideas wins!
Video Clip Idea: I have a Headache ESL: http://youtu.be/QJHtpAriDp0. This catchy song can be used with students to learn some of the expressions and vocabulary that go along with having a headache. The class can practice singing along, and then writing their own songs on the same theme.
Participant (oops, forgot who shared this – sorry!):
Verb Tennis: Create flashcards with the present tense on one side and the past tense on the other. In pairs, students show the cards to each other, and they have to either shout out the present tense or the past tense. Each correct answer gets a point.
Communicating with the Instructor: Students collaborate in groups to think of ways to communicate with their instructor, for example via email, through face book, during office hours, twitter, etc. For this discussion, a function can be added, such as: Tell me more about that, can you expand on this idea, etc. Great for building awareness of register and how to write an email to a teacher.
Vocabulary Envelope Filler: Keep a big envelope of vocabulary words connected to the current topic in the classroom on the wall. If there are five minutes left at the end of a class, students can grab words from the envelop to write sentences, make skits, do frayer models, fit the word into conversation, etc. It’s a great filler, and a good way of incorporating recycling of vocabulary into day to day teaching.
Participant (oops, forgot who shared this – sorry!):
Muddiest point: If there are five minutes left at the end of class, this makes a great closer. Students work together in groups to decide on what the hardest, most confusing part of the day’s less was. They then share the muddiest point of the day’s lesson with the class, and students try to clarify for each other. The teacher facilitates the discussion, but doesn’t clarify.
Getting to Know You: Students are given cards with a topic on one side and numbers on the other side. Students then have to find their classmates with the same numbers on the backs of their cards, and discuss the talking points on the front of the cards. This is a great way to mix the class up, and break the ice with people they don’t normally sit with.
Blindfolded Drawing: Divide the class into groups. The groups all come up to the board, and one person from each group is then blindfolded. The groups are given something to draw (for example, draw a house, or draw the teacher), and then the groups have to give directions to their blindfolded members to draw the topic on the board as best they can. After a certain time limit, there is a big reveal and the class votes on the best picture. Laura said she found this activity on Dave’s ESL Café.
Fruit Basket: The teacher sets up a circle of chairs with enough chairs for each student except for one. That one student has to stand in the middle of the circle. Beforehand, the teacher has prepared a basket with statement strips. These sentences can say things like “everyone wearing green socks”. When the class hears that, everyone wearing green socks has to get up and change chairs. Eventually, there will be a new person in the middle, and that person will read out the statement strips. A variation of this game is called “just like me.” In this variation, the person in the middle has to say something about her or himself and people who have the same thing in common have to get up and change chairs. Lots of scrambling and lots of fun.
Roll the Dice: This can be a great review activity. There is a large game board up at the front of the class. This could be a simple one drawn up on the board with a start, a finish, and squares in between. Students are divided up into groups, and they are each given a mini-white board. The teacher reads out a question, and the groups answer the question using the mini-white boards. If a group gets the answer correct, they can roll a dice and then move that many spots on the game board. The first group to get to the end of the game board wins.
Wise Sayings: In this activity, the teacher shares a proverb or a wise saying with the students, such as “A teacher can open a door, but students have to decide to walk through.” Then students come up with their own wise sayings and write them down along with their names on a piece of paper. Once everyone has a wise saying, they can share their wise sayings with each other, explaining what they mean and why they chose them. The teacher can collect these wise sayings. Later, the teacher can bring out the wise sayings and quiz the class on who said what.
Participant (oops – I forgot who shared this. Sorry!):
Draw Me: Students take time to interview each other, but instead of writing down the answers to their interview questions, students draw each other as best they can. When the interviews are over, the teacher gathers up the portraits and puts them up in the room like an art gallery. Students can guess who is who in each of the pictures.
Radio Plays: The students can break into groups to write and record a radio play such as Casablanca or about Super Heroes. The radio plays should have both narration and dialogue.
Making a natural product: Students gather the ingredients and follow a recipe to make an all natural herbal ointment, such as a tick repellent. This gets students working together to create something in English. It’s a good example of Task-based language teaching. This is great for students who are camping or hiking.
Eddie (an extra one):
No No No Yes: Poker chips are distributed to all of the students (for example each student receives six poker chips). Students then mingle in the classroom having conversations with each other. However, they are not allowed to say the words “no” or “yes” or any variations of those words. For example, “yeah” and “nah” are not allowed. If a conversational partner says “yes” or “no” they have to give a poker chip away to the person they are speaking to. The person with the most poker chips at the end wins.