Category Archives: Lesson Plans

Lesson plans to use in your efl/esl classes

Drama is tiptoing into my classroom!

I’ve been away for so long! Sorry, but I’ve been very busy with some personal issues and now, trying to come back to the blogosphere! As I’ve told you in my previous post , this year, I’m also devoting some time to literature in my classes. I have even started a project: “Myths, Legends and Folktales from Around the World”, which is going great.

In that project, as you can imagine, we are reading stories from different parts of the world. When the time came for England, what legend do you imagine I’ve shared with them? Yeah, :

King Arthur's Legend of course!

I always try to present the stories in different ways. And by this time of the year, I was already running out of ideas. At that moment, I remembered something I hadn’t tried much in my classes, but I love: DRAMA! This story was perfect for it, because it is full of actions. There was the answer then. Answer and movement were the keys.

I wrote the story in a simplified way and divided my students in 4 groups. You can read my simplified  story version here. I gave each group one part of the story and asked them to perform it to the rest of class. They would just have to concentrate on the actions, as I was going to read the story while they perform. It was a wonderful experience, as students really had to work hard on understanding the story. Furthermore, by moving and doing the actions they internalised lots of verbs and vocabulary. It became memorable to them.

When we finished the activity, they were so excited and eager to keep on working with the story, that I’m planning to ask them to write short dialogues in order to write a mini-play. I’ll soon share with you their productions. What do you think? Are they going to be interested in it? Do you have any other ideas or suggestions on how I can continue working with this story? Looking forward to your comments. I’ve missed you so much!

Literature in the Classroom: Photostories

You may all know by now that since last year, I’ve been trying to incorporate literature in my classroom. Last year I worked with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (you can see some activities related to it here and here). This year I started a project called “Myths, Legends and Folktales from Around the World”. I have started a wiki for the project here.

In both cases, I thought that a good way of checking understanding and having fun at the same time was by creating photostories. At first, I thought of using voicethread, and I even wrote a tutorial to explain my students how to use it. However, as soon as I started explaining them what we were going to do, one of my students said “Why don’t we just use powerpoint instead?”. He really had a point there. He made me realise that sometimes the simpler, the better. If they already know how to use powerpoint, why not just let them use that programme, and forget about spending a lot of time trying to teach them how to use another application that would serve the same purpose.

Another lesson they taught me on that day, is that whenever we want our students to start doing something totally new for them, we have to allow them some time to toy around, to get acquainted with the idea, to get the point of what they are expected to do. The first time I asked them to create a photostory, they spent ages to create just the first slide. You can imagine I was walking up the walls. However, the next class they all managed to finish the other 5 slides in just one hour. We, teachers, have to relax sometimes, lots of things are going on inside our students minds that we can’t even imagine.

My two experiences with photostories were very rewarding. The students final productions were great. Here you can see the ones about The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and here the ones about an Asian folktale called Who Will Marry Mousie? Hope you like them.

First Class: All About Them Lesson Plan

Classes have finally started here in Argentina. First classes are always difficult to plan for me, because I believe that the focus should be on getting to know each other in a fun and interesting way. I’m always short of  ideas, and for one reason or another I don’t want to do the same I did the previous year with my new classes. However, this year, I’m very happy with how everything turned out (hopefully next year I will still be as glad as I am today with the results and will be eager to repeat the experience).

I started the classes with a very simple activity; an activity I bet you have done several times: throwing a ball and asking the one who has caught it to tell us their name. This time, however, I gave it a little twist. The person who had the ball was asked to introduce the person sitting next to them. They had to talk about the things they like, don’t like, personality, and whatever came to their mind. This was a great warm up and preparation for the last  activity I was planning to do on that day.

Then, as they didn’t know me. I prepared an anagram with my name and words related to me in some way. I gave them a clue and they had to guess the word. For example, the first word is my favourite sport (SWIMMING). Once they guessed the word, I gave them some details about the topic to make it more fun. For example, in fact, it is not that it is my favourite sport, I hate sports, and that’s the only one I can at least do (LOL). Here, you can see my anagram. CHALLENGE: Would you like to guess in what way the other words relate to me?

ME!!!!!!

Finally, I asked them to create crosswords about them in small groups. The words that would form the crosswords would be their names. They had to create the crosswords and write the references. At the end of the class, we exchanged the crosswords and they had to solve them. It was great fun, student centered, students created content, by them and about them, and I managed to make them write without complaining in the first class. Proud with the results, here you can see some of them (the photos quality is not very good, sorry):

If you want some more ideas for your first week classes, have a look at this post.

More collaborative drawing in the classroom.

There ‘s been a lot of talking about drawing in the classroom lately. @kalinagoenglish and @eherrod have both provided us with ideas on how to remember vocabulary by drawing here and here.  Apart from that, @harrisonmike has shared in his blog a fun activity in which students end up drawing collaborative monsters. Finally, @ddeubel gives us plenty of tips on the topic in his blog.

The activity I want to share with you today is another collaborative drawing. With my 5th grade students we read the adapted version of  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. In fact, my students didn’t read the story, I read it to them, one chapter per class. I soon realised that some of them were not engaged in the activities we did about the novel, since they found it very difficult to understand, or they had some problems expressing their ideas.

In order to try to reverse this situation, I came up with this activity. Pretty simple, but my students loved it.  I read the chapter assigned to that class in small chunks. When I stopped reading, my students had to draw what they had heard (i.e the part of the story I had read). Once they finished, they had to pass the paper to the person sitting on their right. This was repeated many times till the chapter finished. In the end, we had lots of collective comics drawn by my students. I decided to make them pass the papers round, so that those students who weren’t good at drawing wouldn’t feel embarrased, since different parts of all the  final products had been drawn by different students. Here you can see some of the comics :

I have to admit that I was not a great fan of using drawing and art in the English classroom. However, since I started using it, I have realised that it has a magical effect. Not every student is good at English, not all students are motivated and interested in our classes, and it is generally the case that precisely those students are the ones that get involved the most in drawing activities.

When I did the activity I presented here with my class, my students didn’t want to go to the break as they wanted to continue drawing. One of the girls who finds it really hard to understand the English language, came to me and asked me if we were going to do this activity again, as it was “re divertida”. That really made my day, and determined me to let art occupy a big space in my classroom.

Bunny Chow (Traditional South African Dish)

Today, I’m sharing with you a short activity I’m planning to do as part of my world cup project with my 5º grade students. In this activity, students will learn how to prepare Bunny Chows, a very traditional dish from South Africa.

They will have to watch the following video from You Tube and complete the activities you will find below.

1) Write down the missing ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 loaf of b_ _ _ _

Chop O _ _ _ _ _                         20 g

T _ _ _ _ _  Puré                         300 g

S _ _ _

R_ _   Chilli

R _ _  Chilli Powder

G _ _ _ _ _                                 50 g

G _ _ _ _ _                                 50 g

2 ) Complete with the appropriate words:

CUT     BLENDER   FRENCH FRIES    GARNISH    MIX   FRY

First, _____________ the onions.

Put two spoons of Yoghurt and the onions in the _____________

Fry and __________ in a frying pan the ginger, the garlic, the tomato puré, the red chillis and  some salt. Let them cook for some minuter.

___________ the inside part of the bread and place the mixture inside it. ___________ it with some chop onions and chillis. Accompany it with _____________________.

Hope you use it in your classes. Please, share your experience with it  and more ideas on how to exploit the world cup tournament.

Robots Lesson Plan

With my second grade students we are doing a thematic project on toys. As in the last classes we’ve been talking about robots, I’ve decided to prepare a lesson plan on the trailer of the film “Robots”.

I started the class by asking them if they had seen the film. As most of them answered yes, I asked them how many characters there were in the film, if they remembered their names, their colours and what they can do.

After that, we watched the trailer. They were supposed to count how many robots appeared.

After watching it, I asked them: Can the robots talk, sing, walk, take photos, kick, read, cook? Then, we watched it a second time and I stopped the video each time a new robot was introduced. I questioned them:

What colour is it? Is it a boy or a girl? Is it tall or short? Is it fat or thin? Is it beautiful or ugly?

Finally, I gave each of the students a picture of one of the robots. They had to colour it and complete the sentences about it. You can download the worksheet here.

The following class, my students in groups created their own robots. They made a poster in which they draw them and wrote similar sentences about them.

Hope you find it useful and if you use it in your classes share your experience with us.  I would also love to get more ideas on how to work with this topic in my class. Thanks in advance!

Baboons a 2010 Soccer World Cup problem- Lesson Plan

With my 5º grade students at school we are doing a thematic project on the World Cup.  Sean Banville’s web page Breaking News English has inspired me.  I love his site so I’ll take the chance to recommend it to you! He has “EFL / ESL English Lesson Plans & Podcast for studying Current Events and News. There are thousands of FREE 13-page, Ready-to-Print Handouts with Downloads & Quizzes.”

The thing is, that he has written a wonderful lesson plan about the problem of baboons for the 2010 world cup organisers. But, as his lesson plans are aimed at adults and teenagers with an intermediate or above level, I couldn’t use it with my children at school. However, I have adapted the news article and prepared a new lesson plan about the same topic for young learners.

First, I asked my students to search for information about baboons on the net as a homework. I asked them to complete a fact file about them, similar to this one:

SCIENTIFIC NAME:

SIZE:

WEIGHT:

LIFESPAN:

HABITAT:

COUNTRIES WHERE THEY LIVE:

DIET:

GESTATION:

I also asked them to find out why baboons are a problem for the world cup organisers. The next class, we did the reading activities you will find in this file.

Hope you’ve found it useful and do share some more ideas to work on this topic. I will be grateful!

ESL / EFL Lesson Plans Carnival

I am very honured to have taken part in Karenne’s ESL/ EFL Carnival. I think that it was an excellent idea having made it thematic. The contributions had to be lesson plans. Therefor, there is a great collection of wonderful and very creative lesson plans. I suggest that you should go and have a look at them. You will find fresh ideas and new blogs to follow. Do have a look…

Lesson Plan: “Strategies for learning new vocabulary with Avatar film”

Cameron’s film Avatar is in everybody’s mouth at the moment. For that reason, we can take the opportunity and bring it into the classroom, to teach our students in a fun way, how to use   context clues  when reading to infer new vocabulary. This is a useful tool all students need to know for autonomous reading and expansion of vocabulary.

The lesson plan starts with a listening activity based on the film’s trailer, in which students will be able to appreciate the wonderful “natural” world Cameron’s team has created for the occasion.

Then, they will reflect about the strategies we can use when reading a text to infer the meaning of new words from the context. They will apply this to discover the meaning of some words in a text adapted from the New York Times about the Na´vi language (a language created for the aliens in the film to speak).

They will finally listen to an extract in  Na´vi language to reflect upon the strategies we can use for understanding oral material in a foreign language.

I really hope you like this lesson plan and you have a lot of fun with your students. Don’t forget to comment on how it goes.

Lesson Plan: “A reflection on Haiti Crisis”


It’s been a long time since my last post because I’ve been away on holidays. But now I’m back in Buenos Aires and about to start a new-working-year. Trying to find a topic to talk about in my in-company classes, Haiti crisis came to my mind. It is  an issue that is currently everywhere. For that reason, I have prepared a lesson plan to reflect about the gap that exists between developing and third world countries and how this affects their ability to react when a crisis, a natural disaster, etc strikes them. I have based my lesson plan on an article from the New York Times called “Earth Science Meets Social Science” and a video called “Haiti’s Legacy of Environmental Disaster”. Here you will find the lesson plan: Feeling Vulnerable Lesson Plan.

I hope you find it useful and feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, criticisms or whatever you feel like it.