Monthly Archives: May 2010

Brain Pop rocks! Be aware it is geared to elementary level learners. I like it because it could be used as a review or to reinforce previous lessons. I personally think I would use it as an introductory or culminating lesson.

Since it moves mind numbingly slow, it is great for new ELL’s, while at the same time, it will capture the student’s attention because the graphics are appealing.  Also, there is a lot of repetition and visual reinforcements, which is a good thing. Overall, I feel that BrainPOP is a great free resource that should be part of every ESL teacher’s tool kit.

Main ESL Page

Lessons and the word lists

Alphabetical list of grammatical subjects

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Keeping Bloom’s Taxonomy in mind while putting your lesson plans together is a brilliant idea because even though some of your students can’t express themselves as fluently as they can in their native language, they are still capable of tackling higher ordered thinking skills.

When introducing Bloom Taxonomy (BT) to your students, remember to chunk it down so they are not overwhelmed. I personally would focus on one skill at a time. Choose a topic or article that would lend itself to a specific skill.  Prior to discussion time, talk about one particular aspect of a BT skill. Focus on just one verb at a time, maybe two, if you want to do a comparison/contrast or similar but different type of focus. Just keep it simple to start out with. This is all foreign stuff to them, but necessary if they planning on continuing their studies overseas. Even if they don’t plan of going abroad, these skills will go a long way in helping to improve their English communications skills. Be sure to tell them, that if they can master this concept of communication, then they should be able to converse with any Westerner easily. Its all about building up your student’s confidence.

Here are some resources I thought were useful:

Here are some other resources worth taking a look at:

Six more good sites:

  1. Double thumbs up on this one – Bloom’s Taxonomy Bakery – Scroll down for the animation. It’s cute. You can break it down into digestible chunks of information. Focus on and practice the specific skills in each layer of the cake.’s_Taxonomy
  2. Blooms Taxonomy roles – outlines teacher’s roles, student roles, process verbs and products. Kind of makes it more concrete and doable. Also, it may be good to share with students, so that they understand what is expected from them. You may want to bookmark or print it out for future use.
  3. Major Categories of BT with objectives and “outcome-illustrating verbs.” This will be useful to refer to when you are putting your lesson plans together. Scroll down for other useful links.
  4. Breaks down each BT category and provides a neat, concise table that includes useful verbs, sample question stems, potential activities and products.
  5. BT ebook
  6. Links to Dillon School District Powerpoints. I took a look at Powerpoint one and decided that there are a few slides that would be useful to use with your students, but you would probably have to just present one slide (or skill) with each lesson. To present the whole thing would be too overwhelming, plus it is geared more towards mandatory teacher training. You know, those long boring inservice programs that US public schools require you to sit through when you would rather be doing something else more productive.

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Acts of Kindness

Happiness Activities

Happy Life U

Happiness List

Happiness Brainstorm

Draw Happiness

Create a Happiness Collage

Create a Happiness Maze

Create a booklet on the care and feeding of happiness

Create a Happiness Mask

Create a Gratitude Journal

Rate Your Optimism

Chain of Worries

Happiness Podcast

The How of Happiness

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This may be redundant for all you ‘ol timers out there, but it may be helpful to newbies and the clueless (like me.) When I was looking for a job about two years ago, a good friend of mine (who happens to be a phenomenal librarian) showed me her portfolio. She had gotten a three ring binder and took all her stuff – awards, accomplishments, resume, letters of reference, lesson plans, samples of students work, pictures of student work, evaluations, anything she had published – articles about herself from the local newspaper and trade journals (I told you she was phenomenal) and placed it in those acid free plastic page protectors and put it in the binder.

This is what she used as talking points to get a job. So when it came time for me to interview, I took my lame portfolio with me. When the interviewer asked me questions, I  would refer back to the portfolio and show something concrete to back it up.
For example, “What is your procedure for student discipline?” I would tell them about the “1, 2, 3 strikes your out” policy – you can say whatever you feel comfortable with (examples followed by a phone call home. Then I would show an example of a parent phone contact log (example
followed by an example of a parent newsletter (examples of some even better ideas

Here are links to other organizational tools that you can include in the portfolio to help sell your organizational skills (just pick the ones you like the best) & And viola! Proof positive that you are organized and have it all together.

That was just an example of how to use it in the interview. But wait! Remember it is all about selling YOU! And YOU are awesome! Did you put any Powerpoints together? What about multi-media presentations? Did anyone film or do an audio recording of the kids doing their thing on stage? If so, burn them on to a CD and give it to the interviewer. They eat that stuff up…yes, it is shameless self promotion and it also proves that you are technologically savvy.

What about a syllabus? If you did one, put it in there.

Do you still have examples of student work? Print out the lesson plan and then show them the student samples.

Did you create a graphic organizer? Put it in there. If not, go here and pick one out that suits your fancy. Use it as an example of what you would do. Talk about how you would use it to help the students learn new vocabulary words. Graphic organizers like this are really hot in the US now. Students predict what the word means and then draw a picture of it once they get the meaning.

Have you ever put a thematic lesson together? Put it in there. Here’s what I did. I put together a pirate themed lesson that went with a story we were reading in one of those hideous text books for below average readers. I found an article with chunked down information (because poor readers get overwhelmed when they look at a page full of words) with pictures. Then I created a custom graphic organizer to go with it. Also, I found a template that I turned into a pirate passport for the character of their choice. I put that in there with student examples.

Survivor theme – no problem. I found a book in the library with all the edible plants in Florida and copied a few of them. Then I made a worksheet up with a few questions like, “I grow on the beach and taste sour, blah, blah, blah. Who am I?” Then there would be another worksheet with a space for the student to respond and then cite information and details from the passage to support his/her answer.

You get the idea. Put in all the creative stuff that you can, along with the lesson plans, student samples, awards, certificates, published articles, etc; Do you have a blog about teaching ESL, print it out or burn it to disc. Your portfolio should be the best of the best that you have done. Now if you are a newbie, that’s OK. Just put in what you would do or what you did during your student teaching.

Here are some sites that explain the whole portfolio thing quite nicely.

Take a look at how this guy manipulates the interview to his advantage.
I’m not sure it will be as effective for non-native speakers.  th_m

Here is a concise article with portfolio tips. While I don’t agree that it is necessary to “show what you have read” and make connections (unless you are specializing in teaching literature or that is your thing anyway.) I do however, agree that including lesson plans is important. Cherry pick your best examples to include in your portfolio. Also, including a sample teaching video could be the difference between landing the job or having your resume tossed in the round file.

Candice weighs in on the subject of bringing your teaching portfolio to the interview. I like this lady.

Having a clearly stated teaching philosophy couldn’t hurt either. At the moment, I don’t have one (my minds a blank) but that doesn’t mean that I won’t get one at some time in the near future. Here is the link to a resource page that will help you put one together.

Here is a sample teaching philosophy. It is kind of lengthy.

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Wacky English Conversation Starters

Check this out. I created these silly conversation starters that you can use to get your class talking. It is geared toward middle school students and up. You can download the powerpoint if you have access to a LED projector. If you don’t, don’t sweat it. You can print them out as “cards.” Go to the print option  and select the option that allows you to print each slide as a separate tile. Then pair up your students and pass out the “cards.”  In order for this to be a well rounded lesson, be sure to incorporate reading, writing, listening and speaking.  You can achive this goal by instructing the students to read the card aloud while their counter part listens. Then the students write their response and share it with their partner (and the class too - if time permits.)

If, for some reason you can’t download it click here and it will take you to the Teachers-Pay-Teachers site where you can download it for free.

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Here is a list of free online videos you can use to introduce lessons,  reinforce skills or use as a culminating activity. Just be sure to have some sort of worksheet the students need to fill out as they are watching the program. An example could be a word search where the students have to highlight the vocabulary word when it is mentioned in the video, springs to mind. How about a questionnaire where the students have to fill out the answers as they are passively listening to the video? Sometimes the activities are included with the lessons plans.

Browse through the links and if you find something good, please leave a comment (and the corresponding link ) below. If you are ambitious enough to create your own ESL video please feel free to share that with us too.

Real English

English Media Lab

Takes you to a page with a list of links

IELTS’s list of links – This is a great resource. You may want to bookmark this page.

For Kids

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Have you been asked to put a teacher training workshop together? If so, don’t sweat it. I have an outline that you can use to pull it off. With that being said,  you still have to do the actual leg work and presentation yourself.

Any questions? Leave me a post and I’ll try to get back to you  A.S.A.P.

1) Start with an Ice breaker activity. Pick out one you feel comfortable doing. Tell them that it is a great way to build “community.” Do one with the class and then cherry pick the best ones to put in a handout. BTW – The first four are geared to the business crowd.

ESL Ice breakers –

2. Next, teach them how to write a lesson plan. Show them examples of good lesson plans. Talk about the objective, materials, activities, etc;  Also, show them an example of a lesson that incorporates before, during and after activities. For example, a before activity will be something that will tweak your student’s interests, motivate or inspire them. A during activity will be something they can do during the lesson, pair work, group work, jigsaw activities, something like that. An after activity can be a reflection, a game or video that reinforces the targeted skill or  a worksheet. The trick is to present a cumulative activity that sums up the lesson in neat little package.

3. Model how to do a lesson plan for them on an overhead projector, if you have one. Do this on the fly. Have the teachers throw out suggestions for a lesson. Pick one and talk them through it as you are writing it down. The idea here is to show them your internal thought process. This is important, sometimes ESL teachers have no formal pedological training. By revealing your thought process you will help break down any internal barriers that may prevent them from being the best teacher they can be.

Lesson plan templates. Give them choices. Here are a a couple of  links. Cherry pick the best ones to put in your handout packet.

4. Make sure to tell them that they should put the objective on the board, but it should look like this: What am I learning today? Then state what it is that the students are learning that day. For instance, is the targeted skill grammatically focused? Then list the grammar skill the students are learning and below that  list two or three examples to show proof that they actually learned the skill. So, below the objective write something like – I learned  ___ and I can  ____  and _______ .

Other useful resources:

5. Talk about the different needs in the age groups and the assessment process dividing them into beginner, intermediate and advanced.

6. Primary and middle school –  Here I would push Genki English. Yes, I love Genki English. Richard Graham has done all the work for you. It’s a no brainer. It is worth the investment, if you are going to work with kids, that is. Also, I believe his lesson plan model is excellent, even if you don’t want to invest in the product.

BTW – If you are going to be teaching ESL to children and you don’t  have any formal teaching background, do yourself a favor and buy this product. You will be so happy you did. The kids will love it, you will have fun teaching the lesson and most importantly, you won’t have to spend all your free time putting lesson plans together.

7. Richard Graham also has a bunch of games on his site too.
Cherry pick these, do a couple with your trainees and put some for the handout packet.

8. No matter what the student’s age group, music is a good way to introduce new vocabulary and get the students to remember it.

Music is always good to help reinforce grammar and vocabulary. Try to work in a few gestures to activate muscle memory.
Here is an example to show them.

For teens and adults.
For school age youngsters.

Using music to teach ESL tips:
I would highlight the vocabulary words on the worksheet and put it on the board too. Tell the  trainees that this is just an example of what they can do to any song they choose. Make sure you try to get that idea across, that’s important.
You want to empower your teacher trainees.

Model how to introduce the new vocabulary. Richard Graham suggests singing it with out the music first, then add the music and gestures later. Lastly, wrap it up with a game that uses large muscles. That creates muscle memory and helps the students remember the words better. The same idea applies to the gestures when doing the songs.

9. Introduce TPR. Model how it is done. Have fun! You could insert this randomly when it looks like you are starting to loose the your trainee’s attention.

10. Talk about cooperative group activities and pair work.
This subject is huge! You could put together another workshop on this topic alone. Below are a slew of links that will introduce the concept of cooperative group work and give you and idea of how to incorporate it into the classroom.

Jigsaw activities

Newspaper Jigsaw activities

Pair Work – Talk about why it is important and how to incorporate it into the lesson.

Additional resources

Games – I’m sure you have some favorites too.

Links to other sites that you can give them as a “free gift.” Be sure to download some of the songs and showcase the ones you like best. Or if you have the LED projector, go to the website and click on a few songs.

Here is the link to my TPT page. Feel free to share it with your teacher trainees. It is a free download. If you like it, please give it a good rating.

Lastly,show them how to do this:
Cut and paste questions to make a Powerpoint, sentence strips or question cards.
Have an example ready. Show them how to use the same questions to make 3 different activities (Powerpoints, sentence strips and question cards.)

Don’t forget to cover thematic units and phonics.

I know there is a lot here and you probably won’t be able to cover all of in in one session.  Just pick what is the easiest to manage for you and check back, soon I’ll elaborate more on cooperative learning activities and more.

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