Balloon Debate

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Yesterday I did an oral activity with my students of 5th & 6th of Primary they enjoyed a lot and I need to share it with the rest of the world.

 

It is called “balloon debate” and I learnt it when I was a student in Nottingham University. I decided to modify it for lower levels and so enhance the communicative skills of my students. I think every activity can be adapted to the age and level of our students.

 

First I explained them the situation. They need to choose who they want to be (it can be a celebrity, anyone famous, a person from the class…etc.). They are travelling in a hot air balloon but there is a leak and there is only enough gas for one person. They all have to give reasons to the rest of the class to convince them they have to stay in the balloon as then the whole class have to vote. I gave them pieces of paper where they had to write down what they were going to say. I wrote down on the blackboard the first sentence: I deserve being in the balloon because…

 I made groups of three people, all three spoke to the rest of the class and then they left the classroom for a short time as the rest of the class had to vote. Then another three and then the three remaining. Some of them chose the same celebrities (Spanish singers, celebrities they like..etc,) but it’s okay if they are in different groups. In the end there was only one winner and I was surprised because the winner was a girl who pretended to be another boy from the class who’s very special.

 

They enjoyed the activity a lot, one of them was Shakira and tried to do Shakira’s voice and sing, they tried to imitate even the behaviour of these people. It was really fun and I think I achieved the aim of the activity: to keep them talking and make them have fun while learning. I saw smiles on their faces and that was very rewarding.

 

Why don’t you try it in your class?

Games in the classroom

Since very little, we start playing and something as easy as kicking a ball is a way of discovering things, socialize and interact with the environment.
Games are very successful indeed in the language classroom due to their ludic factor and their benefits to communication.

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In active learning, we, as teachers are not the protagonists in the classroom but the learners, so what we do with games is giving them the means and letting them to be the persons in charge of their own learning process.
Games can serve as means of creating a positive atmosphere in the classroom (we don’t have to forget that most learners suffer from anxiety when talking publicly in a language that is not their mother tongue and that we also have shy students in our lessons) so everyone feels more comfortable and learning takes place effortlessly.

There are lots of games we can use:
– Some of them can help us to introduct new content. For example; playing Simon Says can be useful to teach the imperative to students or helping them to review what they already know and introduce new vocabulary.
Mimics is another game in which students have to act out and the rest of the class ask questions to the person who is acting in order to guess what he/she is doing. In these games, students are totally active and involved in the learning process.
– Taboo: taboo is very helpful to develop communicative skills. I have tried this game in my speaking lessons and it can be adapted to different levels. All of my students love it and I think it’s the best game I’ve tried that make them speak in English during most of the time.
– Guessing game: in this game we can review lots of vocabulary. A student sits down on a chair in front of the blackboard. Another student or the teacher draws something on the blackboard and the student who’s sitting has to guess what’s the word. He/She has to throw questions to the class: Is it an object/person/animal/sport…? the class will answer YES/NO. It is a funny game that keeps them all involved and reinforces the structure of questions in English.
– We can play board games in the classroom, with flashcards, via Internet… possibilities are multiple.
– Students can play in groups, couples, individually…
– A good thing of games is that we show our students that learning English can be fun and help them to spark their interest in the language.

Some useful websites where I have found useful ideas for my lessons:
http://iteslj.org/games/
http://bogglesworldesl.com/esl_games.htm
http://www.teachingenglishgames.com/

I want to point out that games should be used in the language class as a complement and we don’t have to spend the whole class playing. We should take profit of the benefits of using games in the classroom to keep our students active and participants of their learning process. Everything we do in class must have a purpose, we should use different techniques in order to make lessons and content more appealing and engage our students. They not only will acquire the key competences successfully but cross-cultural ones as well. It is about time to innovate and change as our students are the future.

Let’s communicate!

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A good way of providing significant learning is making our students aware of the possibility of communicating with people from other parts of the world. Our students must see the need in learning a language; we all learn a language with the ultimate goal of communicating through it.

If we give them the tools, they can easily improve their linguistic skills and why not, find a friend from another country.

In the following site, our students can chat with people from other countries and cultures in a friendly and safe way. 

http://www.penpalworld.com

Why not using Skype in the classroom? Skype is a free tool we can use in class in order to communicate in English with students from another countries and we also have the possibility of talking to experts on the fields we are studying if we join a community.

https://education.skype.com/

Another interesting website in which we can find: penpals, blogs, forums…etc.
http://studentsoftheworld.info/

 

If you are interested in how to teach English interactively and provide your students with opportunities they won’t ever forget, take a look at those websites! Maybe you are not a teacher, but, why not improving any language by having penpals from all over the world?

Creating stories for the classroom in the classroom!

Hello everyone!

Today I want to share with you an amazing tool called Storybird!

It is a website in which we can create stories for free. You just need to create an account, choose some nice illustrations (they are great!) and then start typing your story. You can share your creation with other members, send it to a friend or share it wherever you want!

We could use Storybird in class to present new content in an attractive way or tell our students to become writers for a day and write their own stories! It is a way in which we can encourage our students to develop their writing skills and also spark their interest in literature

Here is mine! I created a story for my 3-year-old students called “What a day!”. It is useful to teach little kids different topics as: animals, weather and some basic vocabulary. My students loved it!

http://storybird.com/books/what-a-day-303/
What about you? Would you like to become a storyteller?

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Prezi: making presentations more dynamic

For me, Prezi is the new PowerPoint; not only the layouts are amazing but it is easy to use and free. It can easily be applied into education: we can change the way in which we introduce content in the classroom and through Prezi, attract our students’ attention. We should also teach our students how to create amazing Prezis they can use in order to make projects or even for their own interest, because they have a friend and it’s his/her birthday and they want to create something special for him/her.

We can use Prezi in our active classrooms; for example, we can tell our students to get into groups and become teachers for a day and teach us something new using a Prezi. They’ll love it for sure!

Here is my Prezi explaining what are digital story tellings about. A digital story telling is another technique we can use in class as it is very innovative and students can improve their creativity, linguistic skills, team work skills…etc.

http://prezi.com/eabjed5iyeeo/how-to-create-a-digital-storytelling/?kw=view-eabjed5iyeeo&rc=ref-30782507

Teaching actively through short stories

I have chosen Guy de Maupassant’s short story The Necklace because I think it is quite easy to understand and I enjoyed a lot while reading through it, I think students might like it. I like the message that it contains as well; it might make them reflect on the important aspects of life, and also make them think that you have to be careful if you are too materialistic because in the end it can cause you the ruin as it happened to Mathilde, the protagonist. You can find the short story in a previous post called “The Necklace”.

Now I’ll tell you which activities I’d use to teach English through this short story in an active way. The activities will be divided into pre/actual and post-teaching.

PRE-TEACHING ACTIVITIES

1. Students read the first paragraph of the story and they have to predict what the story will be about.

She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family, their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land.

They’ll do a brainstorm in small groups and they’ll create a wordcloud (http://www.wordle.net/) that summarises their ideas. They have to explain orally to the class what are their predictions and why do they think that will happen. They can also share their wordclouds on Edmodo (http://www.edmodo.com/).

2. Discuss  the following quotes in small groups:

“There are people so poor that the only thing they have is money.” –Unknown

“You might be poor, and unhappy; but become suddenly rich, and you will still be unhapy.” –Rick Beneteau

“How poor we truly are when we measure wealth in monetary terms; overlooking the true value of ourselves and those we love.” –Kelly Comeau

 

This short story is about a lowly woman who aspires to become rich. One day she has the opportunity of attending to an important event but she has nothing decent to wear. She has a rich friend who borrows her a beautiful (and apparently expensive) diamond necklace. Unfortunately, Madame Loisel loses it and she and her husband spend all their possessions and work hard in order to buy a new necklace. After 10 years, Madame Loisel and her friend found each other again and, talking about the issue, Madame Loisel discovers that the necklace she was lent by her was an imitation and the one she bought cost her a fortune!

Students have to discuss in small groups the quotes, expressing themselves and sharing their opinions. Through this story we can teach our students some values. We live in a materialist world and we sometimes have to reflect to see where the real happiness come from: family, friends, health…etc.

ACTUAL TEACHING ACTIVITIES

1. Try to represent one or two of the major points of action of the story: when Madame Loisel borrows the necklace from her friend, the affair… through a scene. You can use either goanimate (http://goanimate.com/) or bitstrips (http://www.bitstrips.com/) to do so.

Students must read the whole story. Then, they get into small groups and they have to identify the different parts of the story: introduction, plot and conclusion. They have to focus on the plot and select the best moments and represent them using a nice tool online. They can share their stories on Edmodo as well. The scenes must be coherent and students can’t copy directly from the text as they have to use their own words to retell the scenes. The best scenes will be awarded with a special badge on Edmodo from the teacher!

POST-TEACHING ACTIVITIES

1. Role-play. Get into pairs and represent the last part of the story where Madame Forestier and Mathilde Loisel found each other after 10 years. Try to represent Mathilde’s reaction when Madame Forestier tells her that the necklace she lent her was an imitation indeed. 

This activity is purely communicative although students should take notes in order to arrange the script of the role-play. They can dress up as if they where the characters in the story and record themselves and then upload it on Edmodo so the rest of the class can see and share each others’ works. With this activity they think about what will happen next in the story and can also provide a different ending for the story. There are many possibilities, they just need to be creative and have fun while doing it!

So, this is it! I enjoyed a lot while designing my activities for the song and the short story. There are so many possibilities in which we can teach our students in an innovative way… I can’t wait to teach students of Secondary Education and try these activities with them! I have discovered a new world through blogging! This is my first blog and I feel it won’t be the only one!

Sara