Fun with english grammar

Fun with english grammar

Fun with english grammar – How to teach grammar the funny way

As I said earlier teaching grammar is not easy. Most students will cringe when hearing the word grammar and teachers may also have some headaches.

However I also mentioned that it is an essential part of the acquisition of language if we want to make progress in the language learnt.

First of all, let’s be clear about what grammar is. Grammar is the study of how words and their components combine to form sentences to convey a meaning. Some will argue that grammar is the study of the rules that govern the structuration of sentences. It is therefore the study of morphology, syntax and phonology. I would clarify this by saying that grammar is the study of temporary and evolving rules that are an integrant part of language.

But in any case, whatever the jargon we use, deductive, inductive, prescriptive or descriptive, grammar can and should be taught in a fun and creative environment.

Now how can we have fun with english grammar ?

Fun with english grammar
  1. Teach grammar within a context 

 

Instead of lecturing your students with endless rules they must apply without even knowing the reason behind the rules, have them to look for the grammar in an article, a podcast or a video. Give them some real authentic material to work from. Put them in the shoes of a detective. Guide them, give them clues. Be a facilitator but avoid teaching from the front. They must make hypothesis, analyse and finally come up with an idea of the how and why such or such bits of language work the way they do.

 

  1. Vary your teaching style

Dust off your teaching practice and make grammar synonym for fun. How? Be flexible and innovative. Avoid at all cost having your students immersed into their textbooks and exercises. Make your lesson alive. Plan your lessons in such a way that you embed different teaching styles. Use carousel activities to have group works, use a variety of games, include competitions. Have your students to move out of their seats and move around the classroom or even outside. Don’t underestimate the power of technology and interactive learning with online practice.

 

  1. Don’t take it too seriously

If you show your students that you are having a great time while teaching them grammar they will have a great time too. No doubt. You can mime things, pretend you lost your memory and need the help of your students. You can also ask your students to be the teacher and prepare the grammar lesson. Bring realia to the class. Make your class active and enjoyable. Crack jokes, use different accents. In other word don’t be afraid to act up and to involve your audience.

how to have fun with english grammar

English grammar games that work

Four corners: This is a good way to get all your class involved. Have a set of questions with 4 possible answers on the board labelled A-B-C-D. Label the four corners of your class with these letters. When the question appears on the board, your students need to run to the corner related to the correct answer. If they get it wrong they go back to their seats.

Dice games: They are a good way to motivate students and engage them in some kind of competition. They can review or practice any king of grammar point.

Who wants to be a millionaire: The questions are prepared in advance. I personally use it as a general review. I split my class in two or more teams and I give them 4 possible answers to choose from. The team that gets it right gets the money involved. As I don’t have a million to give them it is usually converted in some kind of prize.

 

 

 

Loopy sentences: Split the class in two halves. Give every student a piece of paper. Let’s say you are teaching about the second conditional. One half of the class is going to write the beginning of a sentence: Eg: If I had money…, the second half of the class write the end of the sentence without knowing what the others have written. Eg: … I would travel to the moon. Then have them to stand up and to find a partner to match the beginning and end of sentences. You can come up with really loopy, silly sentences!

 

Sticky notes on forehead: This one is one of my all time favorites. If you are teaching your students about physical/personality description and/or jobs, this is a good tool to use. Give sticky notes to all your students. Each one of them is writing the name of a celebrity on it. Collect the sticky notes and hand them out at random. Students rub their forehead and stick the sticky notes without looking at the name of the celebrity. They need to guess the name of the celebrity by asking Yes-No questions.

Now that you have some more ideas, time to shake your practice and to try some of these tips to have fun with english grammar. Don’t forget to have fun, and to share your ideas on how to teach grammar your funny way!

Why using online teaching resources websites

Why using online teaching resources websites

Why using online teaching resources websites?

A technological evolving world

The world has changed: It’s faster, more diverse, more competitive, highly technological and more complex. Let’s face it:  the way we teach now is totally different from the way we taught 20 years ago. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is not the point. The point is to acknowledge how we, as teachers can become better teachers to help our students cope in a globalized and digital world evolving endlessly.

Adapting for our students

The answer is fairly simple: We must adapt. Am I saying that we should burn our old teaching methods books? Of course not. I am simply saying that human beings have always found a way to survive changes through adaptation. So how about changing our habits by finding different ways that work to make the impact we want on our students?

Learning with online resources platforms

We all have experienced the change especially in terms of technology. Our tech-saavy students were born with technology in their hands but most of us we weren’t. We had to learn and we still need to learn about the different techniques and IT tools surrounding us. However nowadays we have the opportunity to use online platforms to discover, experiment, download, upload resources and most importantly reflect on our teaching practice.  So why not make advantage of these?

Reflecting and improving our teaching skills

Let’s be honest we don’t always have the time or receive the trainings we would love to have in our schools especially in terms of technology. So, the advantage of online teaching websites is that you can save time by downloading and uploading resources whenever you want. By discovering how our peers teach and how they turn their lessons into success it gives us the invaluable opportunity to improve on our own work. Creating and embedding videos and songs, creating fully interactive resources in ESL, French and Spanish, these are just some of the few skills I learnt thanks to online teaching resources websites. These websites are full of amazing ideas and material. The benefit? My students and colleagues.

What makes online resources a value-added?

When creating resources whether offline or online, we must have in mind our students. How will my resource best benefit my students? Is it differentiated enough to allow all my students to reach their potential? Is it appealing, colourful and editable? Is it suitable to their level, their needs, their abilities? These questions are the ones that should lead our lesson planning and resource creating.

So what is the point in using and creating online resources? It’s time saving for your colleagues, it’s training for new teachers, it’s valuable thinking time spent on our students, it’s fun, it’s challenging and above all it gives you a sense of community.

I have been teaching and coaching teachers in many countries and online resources websites have always been the link to help me connect with people anywhere at anytime. What you discover when outside the classroom, in the virtual teaching world, it is that there is a great community out there: A community of dedicated teachers, trainee-teachers, experienced teachers, edupreneurs all aiming at the same goal: Improving education

Here is a message I have received from a customer or I’d prefer to say a colleague:

 

Knowing that my hard work can be shared and used anywhere in the world, THAT makes my day! I am glad to see that I can change my corner of the world by improving my resources and that is what truly matters. I am delighted to have found some tools allowing to improve my teaching skills constantly to provide my students and colleagues the best possible material.

 

So if you believe that you can change the world, just do it by using all the tools you have at your disposal. Let online teaching websites be the tools towards your own achievement and that of your students’!

Make lesson observations less stressful

Make lesson observations less stressful

How to make lesson observations less stressful

 

Having recently observed a trainee teacher I thought it could be good to see what should be avoided at all cost in a classroom. I am usually not a big fan of lesson observations as they put a lot of pressure on the teachers’ shoulders and they can be felt as a bit patronizing. However, lesson observation can be a great tool to improve on our practice if we step back and analyse on how things could be improved.

 

Let’s be honest, we all have our ups and downs and some of our lessons can turn up to be real disasters if we don’t plan carefully. That is what happened to this trainee teacher and this is how he could have turned his lesson into success.

 

Here are some steps to turn your lesson into a success.
make lesson observations less stressful

 

  1. First of all, teachers need to display the objectives of the lesson on the board so that students know what they are about to learn. That may sound obvious to most of us but that is not the case for everyone. Having clear, measurable objectives with differentiated targets is vital to engage students in their own learning.

 

  1. Then the best way to actually have students on board is to create pacy activities suited to your learners’ needs. And these activities need to be embedded in a clear progressive lesson plan. Any outstanding teacher will tell you one thing: A lesson plan with detailed objectives, a progressive structure from teacher-led to student-centered work will give you 90% chance to make your lesson a successful one. Think about the level, abilities, learning styles and behaviour of your students. Would pair, group or individual work be more suitable and why? You could as well script your lesson plan. In other words write down everything you are going to say in your lesson. That is a big help when you start teaching.

 

  1. Be organized. Have your material ready and differentiated. You can have the best material in the world but you fail to engage all your students, your lesson is likely to turn into chaos. How about having a worksheet with different activities that would challenge each and everyone of your students? Your board as well must be organized. Put your objectives in one place –top left for me, use a corner for recording achievements, use different colors according to what you are teaching.

 

  1. Focus on your students’ work. Developing a good relationship with your students is important and it has to be genuine. Circulate around the classroom and get feedback on how they are doing and if they need extra support. If you are in your first year as a teacher, you will soon realize that your chair is an accessory you won’t use that much!

 

  1. Be consistent. Praise the work they are doing but be consistent as well in the way you deliver sanctions if any are needed to reinforced behaviour management. Even low disruptive issues need to be addressed to avoid this becoming a pattern.

 

  1. Have fun. Use humour, smile, create empathy and be creative in the use of your material. Avoid using just textbooks but rather make a wide use of technology and have quick games that will challenge them and create more interaction in class avoiding the boredom of a lecture.

 

  1. Let them lead. That’s certainly the most difficult part in teaching but to make sure that learning is happening, you have to let your students do the work on their own.

 

  1. Be patient and self-critical. We may be impatient or frustrated when we don’t see immediate results in our student’s learning but this may mean that they need more time to acquire knowledge or maybe that the lesson was not adapted to their needs. In any case, analyze your own lesson. What went well? What went wrong? How could it be improved for the next time?

 

 

These tips should help you avoid disaster in class and you should make lesson observations less stressful. So, just get started and let me know about your success in class!

 

 

How to sell teaching resources

How to sell teaching resources

How to sell teaching resources online

Over the past ten years many websites have appeared for teachers to buy and sell their home-made teaching material. The question is ethical for many: Shall we or shall we not sell our teaching resources? Well, this will not be the question in this article. With millions prospective teachers looking for resources to save their day and avoid the long work hours in planning there is definitely a market and few are the teachers who are not looking for a few more quids on their salaries. Having sold online resources and services in education for a while now, here are a few secrets you should know if you want to become a successful teacher-author-seller online.

First of all, don’t feel bad about it. It took me a while to understand that if I am not doing it, others will do it in my place.
Secondly selling resources online has helped me designed better resources for my students. If your product does not sell, it probably means that something is missing. It could be the content or the design or maybe both. In any case selling online will help you reflect on your own teaching practice.

Now that you are convinced that selling online resources is maybe not such a bad idea, here are a couple of tips to get you started.

How to sell teaching resources

1. Check your own resources. Which ones have been especially useful to you and to your students? How could you make them better in terms of content and design?
2. Do the extra mile when designing your resources. Good is not good enough. If you are selling on the teachers’ markets if means that your customers are expecting high standards. Don’t let a typo or spelling mistake let you down.
3. Check and double-check your work. Some teachers may not check the resources they buy before they actually use them in class. Sad, but true. So if your material is not easy to use or if it does not include all the information required, do it again.
4. Check – and buy- resources from other sellers. Understand their strategies. What makes them popular among their peers? Why are they best sellers?
5. Subscribe to different forums and ask your questions like: “Where do I start ? How can I set up my store? How does marketing work?”
6. Be consistent. Try to put your resources online in a consistent way to set up a solid customer base. If your products are good your customers should come over and over again to get your products.
7. Do not neglect the descriptive part of your product. You need to be as accurate as possible when describing your product. It should mention the objectives of your product, the level, the type of material and any other details you find could be useful for your customer.
8. Be EXTRA patient. Nothing will happen overnight. It might take months before you get your first dollar or pound. Remember what you always tell your students: Never give up. Well, the same applies to you here.

These tips should help you get started in the world of selling teaching products online. So, just get started. Try it out and be ready to tell your success story about selling teaching resources online!

How to sell teaching resources quick recap:

How to sell teaching resources

Looking for ideas and examples you can check out my store on TPT and on TES (receive a $10 voucher using this link 🙂 )

how to create unit plans

how to create unit plans

How to create Unit plans: a step-by-step explanation

Teaching can be a really fun experience, but where do we start?  We are always tempted to start by the fun part of it like designing resources or actually teaching. However the first step to consider is creating Unit plans. Let’s face it, that’s probably not the funniest part of the job but that is certainly a crucial element of teaching if we want things to work in class. Unit plans are like a mind-map for teachers. It is a necessary tool to help us plan lessons that will develop our students’ learning and help them reach their goals.  You should start your unit plans with easy questions in mind:

 

  1. What topic I am going to teach and why?
  2. How does it fit in my module/unit?
  3. What are my teaching objectives?
  4. What do I want my students to learn and achieve?
  5. How can it be progressive and well-sequenced?
  6. What assessment tools can I use for AFL and AOL?
  7. Which material should I use to serve my purpose?

 

How to create unit plans

If you are able to answer these questions, then you are ready to get started. Do not underestimate the importance of Unit plans as they will guide your teaching and avoid achievement gaps in learning. So what do we do now?

  1. Think your Unit plans as a puzzle where objectives will be your top one priority. Define general objectives to be taught over a certain period of time and then define sib-objectives that will help you with your day-to-day lesson planning.
  2. Once you have clearly defined your teaching objectives, think about where this fits in your curriculum. Your units have to be progressive and logical. Make sure you know your students’ prior knowledge to ensure effectiveness in their learning.
  3. Gather material that will be necessary to teach for your units. Using a textbook is good but absolutely not enough. To adapt to your students’ skills, abilities and learning styles, use a wide variety of resources. You will need some time here to research resources that will serve your teaching objectives. Read articles about the units you are preparing. Observe other unit plans that have been done by others. Select resources that you can easily adapt to your students’ needs.
  4. Do not underestimate the use of authentic resources and technology. Create motivation and challenge through resources that will inspire all your students. Browse online resources that could be used in class or as projects outside the classroom.
  5. Once you have your material, organize it to prepare learning activities that will instill curiosity and challenge all your students.
  6. Differentiation is key in the teaching-learning process. So you should include a section in your schemes of work that focuses on differentiation in terms of learning styles, abilities, needs etc.
  7. How do you assess the learning? In two ways: You need to use assessment for learning and assessment of learning. Create a section in your unit plans that will mention these. The assessment for learning should be embedded in your everyday teaching. For the assessment of learning this could be done at the end of the unit through formal assessments like tests or quizzes.
  8. Time is key in planning Unit plans. Be realistic. You certainly won’t have time to teach everything you want so be ready to be flexible and add a couple of extra lessons in your Unit plans to make sure you get the right balance of teaching-learning-assessment.

 

example of unit plans
create cooperation in class

create cooperation in class

Create Cooperation in class

By an Educationalist Teacher, Blogger and coffee addict

Our Millennial students like learning through experimentations, games and projects. They are kind of allergic to any kind of lectures which has contributed to “new” teaching approaches such as cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is not a new concept though as it was popularized earlier by John Dewey in the 1920s. However the idea of group work reemerged only in the late 1970s in order to prepare students to the world of work. Nowadays the use of this technique seems to spread out again to adapt to our learners’ abilities. This technique however can be a little tricky and demands time and organization.

What is Cooperation in Class?

Cooperative Learning as opposed to competition in class, is a teaching method emphasizing the success of the group rather than the success of the individual. Students are arranged in small groups in such a way that each group mixes most able students with less able ones. The priority in such a type of method is the achievement of a task within a group of individuals.

What are the benefits of collaborative learning?

Cooperative learning is often seen by teachers as a waste of time. We often tend to believe that if we incorporate cooperative learning in our classes we won’t have time to cover the curriculum completely. Indeed creating a culture of cooperative learning is difficult. We need to think about grouping students the right way, about planning a challenging though doable task where everybody will have a part to play and we also need to think about behavior management.
By using this we try to have all students sharing their thoughts positively to solve a problem. Each and everyone of them is aimed at giving his best for the success of the group. Through cooperation students will develop interpersonal skills on top of the knowledge they will acquire. For instance they will learn how to organize themselves, how to use everyone skills and how to negotiate. These skills will be invaluable not only for classroom context but also in their everyday lives. Another advantage of Cooperative learning is that activities are more students-centered which means in other words that the teacher is only a guide in the discovery of knowledge.

How can we implement cooperative learning?

Cooperative learning is a slow process. It will not happen all by magic. You must set rules and habits and be consistent with these. Try as well to do it step by step. Don’t rush. Maybe your first step will be to have a group discussion as a starter followed by a whole class feedback, then you may want to have students to work on a project together. Your next action will be to rearrange your seating plan to make sure you have more group interaction in your lessons. Then progressively you could plan some monthly project where your students would have to think about a particular topic. Remember as well that it will probably be chaotic at the beginning but stick on your plans and after a couple of months your students will create cooperation in class.