English Summer Practice – Using Real, Interesting Materials from the web

Hi everyone, we’re wrapping up the school year, and although the students worked really hard, it seems important that they practice their English and especially be exposed to the language during the long vacation.

 

Therefore, I have decided to give my students (5 points English – their level vari), to enjoy the same things I enjoy myself. It is a bonus task, and they don’t even have to submit anything, but if they do listen/read what I sent them, they have to show me that they did it by writing about the experience and get a bonus next year.

The options given are:

 “Humans of New york” website/facebook page.summer task

“ThisAmericanLife” podcast

Ted Talks

Feel free to make a copy of the Google Doc.(link) that I prepared, and moderate it.

Have a great time!

 

 

Current Events – Reading the News

We always try to make learning relevant and up to date. One way to achieve this, alongside to reading and writing, is reading the news. However, the regular English and American news websites are too challenging for many pupils.

The websites I present bring the news in an easier language that our students can deal with. The stories are up to date and the students enjoy reading them, because they feel that unlike textbooks, the texts are relevant and new. 

You can use the computers room, smartphones or give that task as homework. 

A very simple activity in my classroom looks like this:

  1. Go to the website XXXX.com
  2. Choose one of the level 2 articles and read it. 
  3. write
  • What is the article about? 
  • What are the most important details? 
  • Why is this “news”? 
  • Write 3 questions that have no answers in the article. 
  • Copy 3 new words and translate them. 

The work can be done in teams, so that every member has to contribute one question. They can present the article in front of the class as a summary activity. 

A daily updating website with stories in three levels. You can choose a subject and a level, There are also exercises to practice after reading. The exercises can be downloaded and printed. Some of the news stories are written and some are on video. 

This website offers current texts in 7 different levels. The texts can be read and listened to. There are also handouts (work pages) and mini lessons with pre- and post- reading activities. The activities can be downloaded and printed.

BBC Learning English – Words in the News – 2015

BBC Learning English – Words in the News – up to 2014

These two pages in the “BBC Learning English” website present video stories as well as written articles and audio texts. The texts are marded with different levels of reading. You can download both the audio and the pdf version of the texts to your computers or mobile devices. Each text is accompanied by exercises and explanation of difficult vocabulary. 


Here is an example of an audio report:press the picture.



You may comment on this post, make further suggestions for using the news in our classrooms, and offer more websites that you know and like. 



















Brainstorming using web tools.

Brainstormers and Ice-breakers

We often open our lesson with a brainstorming question.

The advantages of brainstorming, according to the website ehow, are:

1. Creative Thinking Is Encouraged – students can think “out of the box” and hear new ideas from their peers. 

2. Most ideas are accepted – when students see their ideas on the board, they are empowered. 

3. Everyone is part of the team – brainstorming isn’t about who knows best, who studied at home or who understands the material. There is a chance for everyone

4. It’s exciting and easy – from my experience, students love the chance of parcipating, having an influence over the lesson and comment on what their peers are saying. 

Even with these advantages, there are many students who don’t participate in brainstorming activities, who like to be quiet and listen and don’t contribute. On the other hand, there are students who use this activity to say whatever comes to their mind without thinking first. 

There are several digital tools that help make brainstorming more engaging for all students, well constructed and very visual. I bring a few examples here.  

The students can participate in the activity with mobile devices, computers or tablets, but it is advised to use a projector connected to the teacher’s device. 

Answer Garden – plant a question, grow answers.

A very easy to use tool, no need to sign up! 

1. Prior or during a lesson, enter the site answergarden.ch

2. Click the + button at the upper right section of the page. 

 3. At the “topic”, write a question that the students will answer in one or two words (see example).

4. 

a. Choose “brainstorm” mode if you want to allow identical answers to be submitted.

b. Choose “classroom” mode if you want to allow only individual new questions. 

c. Choose “moderator” mode if you want to approve each entry before it is published. 

d. Choose “lock” mode if you want to lock the garden to any new submissions. 

5. Answer length – you can choose 20 or 40 characters. It is usually best to instruct one or two word answer at the most. 

6. Admin password and reminder email – only if you register, which isn’t a must. 

7. Broadcast – The garden can “last” from one hour to a week. 

8. Create – When you Click ‘create’, you are transferred to the primary page, which your students also view. This is the page you want to share with them, to have them answer the question. 










Sharing

In order to share your garden with the students, copy the URL from the URL bar and paste it in your forum/email/any messaging tool you use. 

Lino-it – a virtual canvas for sticky notes and web content. 

Lino-it is a sticky notes’ virtual canvas that can help us do collaborative brainstorming and thoughts sharing in the classroom. The teacher creates the canvas and sends the link to the students. She adds a question on the canvas or asks the question in class. The children enter the website and post their thoughts, pictures and videos. all according to what the teacher asked. 

Bare in mind that it is essential to give some ground rules before any cooperative activity: the use of clean language and staying on-task are essential. This is a part of the important educational value that comes with such assignments. Our students must learn how to behave in virtual environments. 

Examples: 

– During the teaching the subject of “Natural Disasters”, I invited my students to find volcano eruption videos on youtube and share them on the canvas. They had to write the place, date and 2 more details about the eruption, so they also used the dictionary and had to dig dip in youtube in order to find a suitable video (some videos were without any details so they couldn’t use them). When all was ready, we watched the videos and the children were enthusiastic to share what they learned. 

– When teaching nouns, adjectives or any other grammatical subject, you can ask the students to share a picture of a noun and it’s name. they can also add a sentence with this noun.

How to create a Lino-it canvas for your students:

1. Go to the website linoit

2. Click on “Sign Up” – you may use your gmail/facebook account so that you won’t have to remember a new password. There is an option to do this without signing up, but as a teacher you need control over the canvas. 












3. After the registration, you arrive to a page with all your previous canvases and the option to create a new one. Click on “create a new Canvas”












4. Name your new canvas (see picture below).

5. Choose a background – use the ones offered or upload your own in the option “upload an image”.

6. Tick the option “everyone may post stickies” so that your students will be able to use it – you can change it later, after the assignment is done. 

7. Tick the option – allow guests to post stickies, from the reason. 

8. Click “create canvas”. 













9. Your new canvas is ready! Look at the right bottom side of the page. there is a picture of a tablet. It shows you that the size of the canvas is larger than the size of the screen – students can simply post stickies on all the canvas and you can reach it with the mouse. 










10. On the right upper corner is the option to share stickies and web content. Click on a sticky note, write inside and click “post”. 

11. If you want to share a video, music or picture, click on their symbol and upload them from your computer. 


Important – only the teacher can change stickies locations, so you shoud refresh your page and move stickies so that the students won’t put stickies on top of one another. This problem does not exist in the next tool, padlet. 



Sharing the canvas with your students

In order to share the canvas, copy the url from the url bar and paste it in a message to your students. 

Padlet – another canvas with great features. 


Padlet is very similar to Linoit, but it requires less work from the teacher – you don’t have to move stickies from one place to another, they can be automatically arranged. 

How to create a Padlet canvas:

1. Go into Padlet.comClick on “sign up”. Sign up with your google or facebook account, or create an account with a new username and password. 


3. Click on: “yes, I’m a techer”. 


4. On the dashboard, you will see your previous padlets and the option to create a new one. Click it. 


5. On the right side of your canvas, click on “settings”. 

costumize the wallpaper, layout and privacy (see pictures with prefferable choices below). 

6. Now, choose “share”, copy the link from the bottom (where it sayse Mobilize) and share it with your students. 

Digital Flashcards – What can you do with Quizlet?

Quizlet is a website that gives the students motivation to learn vocabulary – it is simply fun!

On quizlet, student creates sets of words and translations, or words and definitions. It is also possible for the teacher to create the sets for them. 

The sets of words are kept in every student/teacher account and they can practice any time – on the computer or the smartphone app. 

After a set of words is created, here are the practice options:

You can also search sets of words on any subject, save them as your own, edit and share them with your students. 

Another good feature is adding pictures. This is great for your visual learners. You can add a picture to any word and it will be presented on the flashcard. 

I use it for all the vocabulary we have in the textbooks. The kids search the meaning of the words in the glossary of the book, and insert it into the app to create flashcards. It gives them the option to review and practice the words by themselves.

What do you – or the students – do?

1. sign up to the website. 

2. Click on “create a set”. 

3. Choose the language for the term and for the definition. Quizlet does not read aloud Hebrew, but it recognizes it and will read aloud the English definition.

4. When you finish, name the set (the students can copy the name from the textbook), and click “create”. 

5. Now, a set is ready. the students can use the flashcards, practice with 3 different exercises and 2 games. The teacher can click on the test and print out a test for the students. 

Share a set – I usually ask one of the students to share the set with me. It then appears on my quizlet and of course the student feels great – they love to help 🙂

English definition – more skilled students can choose both term and definition in English. Quizlet suggest definitions and the students should choose the right one. 

Search – you can browse the many quizlet sets other teacher have prepared according to the subject you are going to teach. Once you find something interesting, you can save it and edit it for your purpose. 

Here are two online tutorials: 

Eva Earnst:

“secondary solutions blog”:

My students love it – Try it yourselves! 

Time to Practice…Grammar!!!

What do we usually do with grammar? The students practice in their grammar books and than we check it on the board, or the students check each other’s work. There are more options, but I always feel that it’s difficult to know that everyone learned and assimilated. 

Recently, I have started using grammar practice websites with my students. After I open the subject and explain the rules, the students practice on the website. They can also practice at home in preparation for a test or a quiz.

How does it work? Very simply, the website contains exercises and corrects the students if they are wrong. The answer is correct if they put the words in the correct form, and also if they used capital letters and punctuation marks where needed.

Not all websites, however, are very good. Here are two that are reliable.  

Important note – In order to send the students directly to the exercise you want, simply copy the URL from the top of the target page and paste it in the forum or the message. 

English Grammar Online – My personal favorite. 


This website is extremely broad and one can practice grammar, writing, reading, vocabulary and more. I will focus on the grammar section. As you can see in the picture below, there are a lot of tenses to learn and practice. 


When you click on a topic, the next page contains an explanation about the use of the tense and links to exercises. The first exercises are each on small sub-topics. They latter ones are mixed practice and even literary texts which contain the specific tense.

The students complete the exercise and click on “check answers”. They can see were they did wrong and also an explanation regarding their mistakes. They can try until everything is perfect. 

English – hilfen.de

This website is the work of a German English teacher, Joerg Poehland. It containg a lost of grammar practice, checks the exercises automatically and includes spelling, punctuation and capitalization. 

There are several difficulty levels for each topic; beginner, intermediate and experts.