Monday, September 24, 2012

More about IWB resources!

The list of IWB resources and web pages is not closed! 

Thanks to Rowan, one of my blog readers, I had the opportunity to take a deep look to TESiboard, probably one of the best interactive resources page I’ve ever found.

You can find lots and lots of activities (with the “Activity Finder” tool) for math (numeracy), literacy  (language arts), phonics, science, ICT (technology – my world), geography, history, and more … for students in Educaci√≥ Infantil (EYFS in the UK), Cicle Inicial  (Key Stage 1 in the UK) and Cicles Mitj√† i Superior (Key Stage 2 in the UK).

It provides teachers of all levels with:
  • Units of work: A complete teaching pack for a mini-topic: at least a week’s worth of lesson plans, interactive activities, texts and worksheets, images and supporting printables.
  • Skill builders: Sets of lively practice games for whole class or individual use (differentiation). These are structured to provide tiny steps through core skills, including mental calculations and Phonics.
  • Teaching tools: Every-day interactive resources to crack a concept or secure a skill. 

But the most important thing is that the interactives are extremely high quality, not only because the graphics and interface are great, but also because sounds effects.

Here’s a screenshot from one of the activities:
Clic on the image and you will get the "Activity finder" engine!

Just for your information, the Key Stages in UK are as follows:

Key Stage
Years [Y]
Final exams
Nursery / Reception (Early Years Foundation Stage)
1st-2nd form infants
1st-4th form juniors
11 plus (generally only for Grammar School entry)
1st-3rd form secondary
4th-5th form secondary
Sixth form secondary, also FE college


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Waiting games for fast finishers, classroom password, breaking the ice, or... whatever you may find them useful for!
I have found this list of  "20 (Almost) Effortless Waiting Games For Your Kids" in a curious web site called More Than Mommies. The idea to make this list came out when you are with your kids "stuck waiting and patience is growing thin".

The best part about the list is that to play the games you are required to bring yourself and your brain to the table and nothing else--no need to dig for a pen, paper, missing game pieces, bulky boards. The games will leave children unplugged and connecting with other partners "in no time flat". The problem is that some of them require a pretty good level of language to be played: adaptation is paramount!

I Spy
. We start off the game by picking an object in the room and saying "I Spy with my little eye" and then everyone takes turns guessing what is spied. The winner of the round chooses the next object.

I'm Thinking of An Animal, Person, Place or Thing
It's another easy one. Just choose an Animal (if the kids are older you can choose to play using famous people, places or favorite things) and then everyone asks yes or no questions about your animal and tries to guess what it is. For example: I chose COW. The kids ask: Does it live on a farm? Yes. Does it swim? No Does it eat Grass? Yes Does it give milk? Yes Is it is COW? Yes! It's fun to try to stump them.

How's Yours
How's Yours is best played in a group of at least four people. One person leaves the group and those left agree on an item...let's say "toothbrush"--The guesser returns and takes turns asking each person "how's yours?" the players give a word or short phrase to answer the question. I say "Bristly." Child one says "soggy." Child two says "green." Child three says "chewed." The guesser shouts out the answer as soon as he or she thinks of it and if he guesses on your word than you become the next guesser.

Thumb Wrestling
Lock your right hand with your opponent's hand with thumbs up. Move your thumbs side to side and you both chant "One! Two! Three! Four! I declare a thumb war!" and then try to pin your opponent's thumb with your thumb without letting go of their fingers. Once pinned, your opponent has 10 seconds to wiggle free before you win!

Rock, Paper, Scissors
The rock is a balled fist. The paper is a flat palm. The Scissors are the pointer and middle fingers sticking sideways. Rock beats Scissors. Paper covers Rock. Scissors cut Paper. Simply say "Rock, Paper, Scissors...Shoot" and everyone throws their choice into the center of the circle. It's also a good way to choose who will be the first in a game.

I'm going on a Picnic
This is an alphabet/memory game. Start the game by saying "I'm going on a picnic and I am bringing an Ax" (or Apple, Anaconda, Aardvark--any "A" word) The next person says "I'm going on a picnic and I am bringing and ax and Bananas" The next person tries to remember everything the person before brought and adds their word to the end in alphabetical order. When the person can't remember all the items in order they are out. The winner is the person who can remember the entire list when no one else can!

The Telephone Game
The telephone game is best played with a larger group. Choose a long-ish phrase to whisper quickly into the ear of the person next to you. They then whisper what they heard into the next person's ear. You all giggle and laugh when the last person says the phrase aloud at the end and you see how much it has changed!

Name That Tune
One person chooses a well known song and hums the tune. The other players try to guess the song. The person that guesses gets to hum the next song.

Mental "Hide and Seek" (A Variation of "I'm Thinking of")
Pick a place in the classroom. The other players ask "yes" or "no" questions until they "find" you. This works best for older kids-ones that won't cheat by "moving", and ones creative enough to think of clever places to "hide."

But why limit yourself to hiding in the room that you are in. Keep the fun going by hiding in the "movies." The person hiding will give away the title. For example, "I'm hiding in 'The Little Mermaid' ". The person hiding then picks a scene and hides in an object in that scene--like the snarfblat or in Triton's trident. It helps to stick to movies everyone has seen numerous times.

Don't Laugh CopyCat!
As the leader you can move any way you wish, or choose exaggerated facial expressions. Everyone must copy you... withOUT laughing! Not even a giggle. Anyone who makes a peep is out of the game! What a fun challenge!

Guess a Number/Guess a Letter
Pick a number 0-100 and the players try and guess the number. It's kind of like "I spy" with numbers in your head. You can give hints like "higher" or "lower" to get the players on track.
The second game is called "Guess the Letter." For young kids, draw a letter on their back. For those too young to recognize letters you could draw shapes or an item like a flower, for example. The players have to guess what is drawn. As the child grows and learns to read, instead of one letter, use a whole word. As they get older the word gets longer and harder. If they miss a letter, kisses and tickles will keep the game fun!

5 Questions/Would You Rather
The asker gets to ask five random questions to any player they wish. For example "If there was one thing you could change about me what would it be?" or "What is the best thing that ever happened to you?" It is a great way to get children talking and find out more about them and vice versa.

Another variation would have players asking "would you rather" questions. For example, "Would you rather have arms so long they hung to the ground or three legs?" Or, "Would you rather run a marathon with a blister on your foot or a cramp in your calf?" or "Would you rather have your grandmother's first name or her hairstyle?"

I'm Going on a Trip
One player names one thing they are going to take and one thing they can't take. Everyone has to figure out the pattern. Once they think that they have it they offer a suggestion of what they think they can take and what they can't and start making them up to help the others.
So for example, I am going on a trip and I can take apples but not peaches. I can take puppies but not dogs. I can take mommies but not sisters. The pattern is: words with double middle letters. A guesser might say "so you could take letters but not numbers". It is a great game for teaching patterns, easier to play with children who can read.

Animal Clues
This is a variation of "I'm thinking of". Choose and animal and then give a few clues to get players to guess your animal. They could be ridiculously easy (for young players) or really obscure (for older players).

For example, Polar Bear. The clues could be: it's big, furry and cold. Players have to guess. If they get stumped I'll add a few more clues until they finally get it.

The first player names a place, and then the next person has to name a place beginning with the last letter of the place before it:
Example: person A: says Spain. Person B says: Nebraska. Person C says Alabama. and so forth.

Since you often end up with a lot of D's, E's and O's, You can be very loose with what constitutes a place... For example acceptable answers might be: Arctic Circle, Bermuda Triangle, Hogwarts...
Variations of the game can also be played with colors, and names.

Let's Tell a Story
Someone starts by making up the beginning of a story and then stops. The next person picks up and starts adding to the story. It gets silly and often times we end up starting over, but it's a great way to pass the time. And allows the players to think creatively!

God Dog Game
This game is a variation of "Geography" in that you name words using the last letter of the word before it, but, but you can choose 3, 4 or 5 etc. letter words. You determine the how big the words can be at the beginning of the game. For a three letter game you might start with the word God, the next person says dog, then the next might say got and so on.

It is a good idea to spell the word and have the children spell their words. When they can't think of a word, they are out and the next person must think of a word.

Pits and Cherries
It isn't really a game so much as a conversation starter. Each person takes turns telling the best (The Cherry) thing about their day and the worst (The Pit) thing about their day. We all cheer or commiserate depending on whether the person is giving their Cherry or Pit. It is useful when you aren't sure what to talk about.

The ABC Game
Pick a topic like movies and TV shows, famous people, food, animals, countries/states etc.
The first person has the letter A and chooses the word in the chosen category that starts with A, then moves onto the next person and so on. On the letter B, a different person gets to start. The game keeps going until you get to the end of the alphabet. One rule we made was if someone gave a double letter answer, the others would have to come up with another one.
For example, with famous people, I say Alec Baldwin, One player says Ashlee Simpson and another says Adam Ant. So Player one and I would have to come up with another answer to finish off the letter A. Then Player one starts and comes up with an answer for the letter B and so on.

And a side note, since they are kids and don't have as big a memory as an adult it's okay to help them and show leniency with some of the answers. It is definitely a time consumer and a great learning game!

Higgy Piggy
This game it is best played with kids who are old enough to get the concept. The idea of Higgy Piggy is to create a riddle who's answer is two rhyming words.It's a great way to teach synonyms and rhyming. One person comes up with the question and the rest guess. For example: Q. What is a noisy thunderhead? A. A loud cloud. Q. What is hair for a hog? A. A pig wig. Get it? Got it? Good!

Can you think of any other waiting games? Do you use them in your class? What's your favourite one or the one children cannot stop playing? Leave them in the comments and we all can get a great bank of games and ideas for our ESL classes!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Roald Dahl Day

Today is Roald Dahl Day.

Roald Dahl is a reference to the British, and of course for children's literature. In British houses Dahl is almost like one of the family.

This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the appearance of The BFG (The Big Friendly Giant), and the official website of Roald Dahl Day invite us to download the special celebration pack .

Apart from this, Puffin Books has organized one of its famous Virtually Live interactive webcast about, Roald Dahl.
From Wikipedia
Pay attention to this date: September 24th at 2:00 PM (BST)
Click on the image to watch Michael Rosen's introduction of the event.

Just go into the web site, register for the event and get...
  • Roald Dahl’s legendary illustrator Quentin Blake drawing live and in conversation with the award-winning writer Michael Rosen, author of the brand-new Fantastic Mr Dahl
  • Michael and Quentin will be answering your questions
  • Special guest appearance by actor and comedian David Walliams as The BFG
  • Behind the scenes footage from the Roald Dahl Museum and Storytelling Centre. See inside Roald Dahl's writing hut
I think it is worth spending some time at this event. You can get tons of ideas for your ESL class!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Just few ideas for using digital photography in the ESL classroom

There are many possibilities of using digital photography in the ESL classroom: as prompts for writing or speaking, as a way to tell daily stories, personal facts or emotions, as a way to illustrate short tales...

I've been using digital photo cameras a lot. Students like to shoot their own pics and explain about them. 

Using Instagram, Picassa or any other photo sharing program with the possibility of editing them with filters and frames, brings more fun to any language outcome.

I suggest you to have a look to this post appeared in Education Rethink, 2 July, 2012 "Ten ideas for using Instagram in the classroom" by  

These are the ones he has suggested in his post:

1. Digital Storytelling: doing Show and Tell could be a powerful way for students to share their stories. I'm going to do that this year. However, I'm also going to give students the option of taking pictures from their neighborhood. They can tell their story visually, annotating it through their comments on each picture. (It could be something like this: a road trip)

2. Grammar Practice: Photography can be a great place to practice grammatical structures. It can be something as simple as writing a functional text (I had been walking down the street when I saw . . .) Or it could be a way to practice, sequentially, the grammatical structure using their world as the context.

3. Photojournalism: Similar to digital storytelling, this would allow students to explore issues in their world through a visual medium. I want them to engage in citizen journalism. Whether it's a school sporting event or an immigration sweep, a classroom community service activity or a local election, students can use the mobile devices to express their social voice.

4. Photo Prompts: Last year, I found photographs and created writing prompts. Sometimes, they were geared toward poetry or narrative while other times they were persuasive or informational. I will encourage students to develop their own photo prompts using Instagram. (Below would be an example: Is this vandalism or art?)

5. Metaphors: I will give students concepts from any of the subject areas and ask students to find a metaphor that fits the concept. They will use Instagram to find the metaphor and then describe it in the comments section. (Below: a metaphor about why we are afraid of the wrong things)

6. Photos for Blogs: This is pretty simple, but I want students to start adding their own photographs to some of their blog posts. There's something powerful about looking at a post and realizing that the photograph and the writing both originated from the same author. (Below: at some point I want to write a post on the upside of being distracted)

7. Find the Context: I want my students to document math that they see in their world. I'm thinking Instagram can be a great place to document things like linear relationships, data, fractions, etc.

8. Ethnographic Study: I've done this before in social studies in writing. I'm thinking it might work as a blended activity of writing and pictures. I'd love to see them take photographs of the spaces they inhabit and then analyze the cultural, political, social and economic elements that define the space. 

9. Sharing Art: I love to sketch. I love to doodle. And yet, I've rarely posted my drawings to Instagram. I'm wondering what it would look like to blend the art of photography with pencil and paper or with painting. (Below: a gift from my sister)

10.Just Let Them Take Pictures: I'm thinking of letting kids take pictures for the sake of taking pictures. Let a few of them fall in love with photography. Let them find the beauty in their world and share it with others and then see what kind of conversations occur afterward.
Can you think about more ideas? Please share them! 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Photographs collected by teachers for teachers

eltpics is a free photographic resource, allocated in Flickr, for teachers, created by teachers. All photographs are creative commons, so if you want to use them, all you need to do is credit the photographer.

eltpics was created in late 2010 by Victoria Boobyer, Carol Goodey and Vicky Loras. From Spring 2011, two more curators joined the team: Fiona Mauchline and Sandy Millin.

Used as flashcards, illustrations, or prompts, the eltpics gallery can be a wonderful way to bring realia to the ESL classroom.

Climbing a tall palm tree by @CliveSit in eltpics
As an example, you can help to develop creative writing or more fluent speech by grouping the children in fours or fives and giving them a larger number of selected photos, printed from the ELTpics collection.

The kids would select a picture, be encouraged to talk about it, collaboratively invent a story using all of the visual cues, and then each would tell another group, the class, or write down, his or her part of the story.

eltpics can help a lot and it would make it easier to establish a theme if one was needed.