Balloon tennis- a fun word game

This fun game, comes from Olha Madulus’s Blog!

When Olha, first mentioned the game on her facebook page , I told her that I loved the idea and asked her if I could try it in my class! She agreed and  was kind enough, to promise me to write a blog post about the game, as soon as possible!

I adapted the game ,a bit, to suit my classes ,but the main idea worked really well with my students , therefore, it is highly recommended to any other colleague, wishing to give it a try, too.

I have to thank Olha, again, for her generosity ! She is one of the most inspiring Teacher Trainers I know!

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This game is suitable for all ages and levels
·       Blow up one balloon
·       Divide your class into two teams (once the students have got used to the game, you can organise them into smaller groups of 2 teams each, each group needs a balloon – but consider the space you have available. You could use the playground for this).

 

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·       e.g. with younger learners explain that they have to remember vocabulary for food

 

·       One team starts with a member hitting the balloon across to the opposition team and at the same time shouting (so all can hear) one word for an example of food e.g. chocolate

 

·       Next a member of the opposition team has to hit the balloon back shouting a different food word

 

·       If no one can think of a new word or repeats a word – that team loses the point (this encourages the learners to listen carefully)

 

·       If the balloon drops to the floor – the receiving team loses the point

 

·       You can score the game like tennis

 

·       You can change the lexical set whenever necessary

 

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·       With older learners you can review a topic prior to a writing task e.g. the advantages and disadvantages of the internet

 

·       Nominate which team should shout advantages and which disadvantages

 

·       Play as above

 

This game has a number of advantages

 

·       It is kinaesthetic and can energise the class

 

·       It’s a team game and promotes a sense of community

 

·       The focus is on the balloon and shyer students feel relaxed and more likely to participate

 

·       You can change/play with the rules to suit your class and any language you want to practise

 

·       The balloon is quite slow and easier to keep in the air than a ball
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Teaching with…trash?

 

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Are you constantly looking for creative projects for your students?

Do you want activities that ignite their imaginations?

Make things with recyclables. I always do so, mainly with my 3rd graders !

When they use items found in their recycling bin or around the house/school to create toys and treasures kids love, it inspires them to tap into their creativity and use what’s available.

It’s good for the environment and also helps develop your child’s imagination and creativity.

It teaches kids that once something has been used for its initial purpose, it doesn’t mean that we have to throw it away.

Have a conversation about the recycling process with your kids. Share how different things are made and then broken down after you throw them away, and how it’s better for the environment when you reuse and re-purpose certain materials.

“Go recycle” guessing game

For my favorite activity,using recycled trash, you will need:

  • Items from the recycling bin: Milk cartons,egg cartons, cereal boxes, food packaging, toilet rolls, scrap paper, etc.
  • Craft supplies: glue, tape, scissors, wire, craft knife
  • Craft materials: feathers, googly eyes, glitter, buttons, ribbon, paint, markers, etc.—whatever you have around the house or school.

Preparation:

1. Find or create an interesting bag to use as the bag of mysteries/a large scarf ,a small, lightweight blanket or any piece of cloth available.
2. Collect a selection of objects to be placed in the mystery bag/under a large scarf ,a small, lightweight blanket or any piece of cloth available.
a. Can be based on a theme
• For example: Things you find in a kitchen/you can recycle.

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Implementation:

Students try to identify the objects as they touch each one.

Cover them lightly with a large scarf ,a small, lightweight blanket or any piece of cloth available.

Let children feel object  and try to guess what it is. Obviously,  as children explore, they increase tactile awareness, vocabulary, memory and communication skills!

As they reached in and felt the items, we talked about what they felt. First I asked them to describe what they felt, and then I asked leading questions, such as: was it hard or soft?  big or small? what color?

With some things, they guessed right away, and with others we talked through more questions.

The first time I tried this activity, I gathered up several items that could be recycled,  a scarf, and a bandana. I covered their eyes with the bandana, and they reached under the scarf, felt the objects , and guessed what each object was.

Two more IDEAS:

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1.Guess the Summer item

In the beginning of the school year, you can  select items that remind them of summer:

  • seashells and rocks from the beach
  • corn
  • beach toys
  • popsicle sticks
  • sunglasses

Same, with any other Season or Special Day.

2. Making toys from junk

When looking to inspire your kids’ creativity, search no further than your recycling bin. Glass, plastic, and cardboard are all incredibly versatile crafting supplies with an infinite number of uses.

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I asked my 3rd graders to make their own toys using recycled items they can find at home. I showed them the first Doll’s House my daughter made when she was their age, using old boxes! They loved it and got inspired !

The main idea behind all the crafts my students made- which you can see here below- is that you can make toys from junk. It will cost nothing and often teach kids some basics of engineering and practice their English at the same time, in order to present their toy to the class.

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Origami crafts and ELT games

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This school year, we decided to use ORIGAMI crafts, in our ” CUbeS: CUlture and Smiles in a CUbe”  etwinning project ! Origami, is such a creative form of Art!
Why is Origami good for our students?
Generally, Origami is good for our students, as it develops eye hand coordination, sequencing skills, spatial skills, memory, but also patience and attention skills.  Origami allows students to develop fine motor skills and mental concentration. All of this combined stimulates the brain – especially when BOTH hands are being used at the same time.
Add to these, the social aspects of Origami – learning about other cultures, working together, teaching each other and taking pride in your work –simply PERFECT for our etwinning project, this year!
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Young children will surprise us in the ability they show creating basic folds – start on origami patterns such as Fortune Tellers , Windmills and Paper Boats are a classic example of childhood origami projects! And you can quickly progress from there.
Oh.. and what childhood does NOT include a Paper Plane? Origami right there! I love this Origami Paper Plane video by this 7yr old. 
It is fantastic for cooperative learning – children learn to work together and support each other. It breaks down age barriers – a younger child may be able to help and older one. It is also a great way to learn about other cultures and communities. So the key aspects of Origami benefiting well being and social skills are:
  • Patience
  • Cooperative learning/ Working in together
  • Sense of achievement
  • Learning about other cultures
  • Community building (especially if working on an origami school project)
  • Sense of achievement & joy in the finished product
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A. The Origami Paper Airplane “You” game
This fun writing icebreaker or brainstorming activity, works well with all students.
To start, the students write three to five facts about themselves on a piece of paper. Remember to ask them to write their full name on one of the wings. Then they put their creativity to work by folding that paper into a paper airplane.
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On your count, everyone flies their planes toward the middle of the room. Then students pick up a plane that landed near them.
Students take turns reading the facts written on the plane and add one new fact about the person whose paper plane they have in their hands. Let the class help if individuals get stuck.
Repeat the procedure as many times as you wish
A class discussion may follow.
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Extra: another Paper Plane Game idea
Level: Any Level
Draw a target (with points – like a dart board) on the whiteboard or use a cardboard box in the middle of the room. Then, students make paper airplanes and launch them after they answer your question in the form of a sentence-in our case, about their etwinning partners.
I recommend formulating questions that lead to 1 or 2 types of answers. This allows for better memorization. For example, use CAN/WILL questions and write the beginning part of the answer on the board “I /My etwinning partner can/will…”.  I recommend giving a prize to make the target points mean something, thus peaking their interest
B.The Origami CHATTERBOX game
Chatterboxes (or fortune tellers or cootie catchers) are one of those classic toys that epitomise childhood…I remember lots of laughter playing with them with my cousins on summer holidays. This suggested game is a bit of a twist on the traditional chatterbox, perfect for our etwinning project, whilst also having a giggle.
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To make:
  • You will need a square of paper. Ours was the width of an A4 page – 21 centimetres.
  • Fold your chatterbox according to the instructions found here (or you could google up a Youtube video).
To play:
  1. Ask one student to read and choose a colour, from the outside of the chatterbox. Spell out its name as you open and close the chatterbox.
  2. Ask the student  to read and choose a number, on the inside of the chatterbox (you should only be able to see four choices). Spell out the chosen number, as you open and close the chatterbox.
  3. Ask your student to choose a number from the choices on the inside of the chatterbox that are open on the last letter spelt. Open the flap corresponding flap and read the name of one favourite sight, there.
  4. As far as our etwinning project is concerned: this is the sight, which that the student should visit on the relevant twinspace PAGE,to read and learn more about- and later write about what he/she has learned and his/her impressions, on the relevant twinspace FORUMS thread!
  5. Swap over and have fun letting your students be in charge this time, working in pairs…you might just have a hard time getting it back off them though!
 C. The Origami Paper Boat Game
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This is a game where you practice words that have to do with any topic – in our case, words that have to do with the second “CUbeS’ Page about our Country-  and your memory!
Hand one paper boat to each student. Give them some time to read all the info on it.
Start like this: say to the first student “a boat comes loaded”. The student answers “with what” and you say “with sunny islands”. Then the student continues to say to the next one in the class “a boat comes loaded”…he/she answer “with what”…the student says “with sunny islands and the Acropolis” for example. And then it continues like that “forever”.
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The students have to remember what words have been said and they have to come up with a new word/phrase having to do with the topic.
If anyone fails to remember all the words that have been said or if he/she can´t come up with a new word, they are out of the game. The winner is the one that can continue “forever” without failing. (It can be a looong day!)
When I played it with my class (Greeks 12 year olds) they didn´t want to stop so they continued the game even after the lesson was finished and I had left the room!!
Have fun learning about Greece-or any other topic- with this origami paper boat game!
D. The Origami windmill  “Call My Bluff / Two Truths and A Lie” game
Call My Bluff is a fun game which is perfect at the start of term as a ‘getting to know you’ kind of game but, it can also work in our etwinning “CUbeS” project .
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The game is excellent for practicing speaking skills, though make sure you save a time for after the game to comment on any mistakes students may have made during the game. (I generally like to reserve this for after the game, so you don’t disrupt their fluency by correcting them as they speak).
With older groups you can have some real fun and you might be surprised what you’ll learn about any given topic, when playing this particular EFL game.
How to play:
First, hand your students a paper windmill each. Allow some time to play with it and read all the info written on it.

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  • Write 3 statements about any given topic – or about the Greek school in our case- two of which should be lies and one which should be true.
  • Allow your students to ask you questions about each statement and then guess which one is the truth. You might want to practice your poker face before starting this game!
  • If they guess correctly then they win.
  • Extension: Give students time to write their own two truths and one lie.
  • Pair them up and have them play again, this time with their list, with their new partner. If you want to really extend the game and give students even more time to practice their speaking/listening skills, rotate partners every five minutes.
  • Bring the whole class back together and have students announce one new thing they learned about the given topic- or about the Greek school, in our case- as a recap.
E1. Easter Bunny-Flower corner bookmark craft
1.The bunny bookmark design, really is a very easy one:
Step 1: Begin my making your very basic Origami Corner Bookmark. There are step by step photos and worded instructions for you on this Origami Bookmark post – you can print these off too!
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Step 2: using any paper cut offs – cut out two large bunny ears. Add a little pink and glue to inside of your basic origami bookmark.
Step 3: add facial details.
That is it… you have made an adorable Paper Bunny Bookmark using printer paper!
Here’s a video link to help you create your own origami paper bunny corner bookmarks.
https://www.redtedart.com/easy-paper-bunny-bookmark/?jwsource=cl
2.You could also try to make the Flower corner bookmark.
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  1. Begin by making your basic Origami Bookmark in green – like leaves or the grass.
  2. Once you have your green bookmark base, it is time  to make your flowers.
  3. Decide on your colour combination of your flower bookmark, as well as the types of petals you would like. We made two different ones – the blue flower and the white daisy bookmark.
  4. For the blue flower bookmark, you will need 5 blue petals – oval shaped and one yellow one.
  5. For the daisy bookmark, I cut out 12 long thin white petals and one yellow oval for the centre of the daisy.
  6. Glue all your petals onto your bookmark, but take care not to stick them onto the lower part of your bookmark.
  7. Add your centre. Decorate with with your pens and rosy cheeks.
  8. Finally, you can make a little red ladybird or bee and as it as a cute detail.
Here’s the video link to help you create your own bookmarks.
https://youtu.be/jnzVYG09RYA
E2.-The origami Easter paper corner Board Race
First, hand each student one corner bookmark and give them enough time to read all the Easter customs and traditions vocabulary written on them.
Later, have them play the game below, in teams.
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There isn’t an EFL teacher I know who doesn’t use this game in the classroom. Board Race is a fun game that is used for revising vocabulary.
It is a great way of testing what your students already know about the subject you’re about to teach- in our case: a great way to teach/revise Easter vocabulary and learn more about Easter traditions in our  etwinning partners’ countries.
How to play:
First, watch this helpful video of real teachers using this game in the classroom by BridgeTEFL:
Here’s a step by step explanation:
  • Split the class into two teams and give each team a colored marker.
  • If you have a very large class, it may be better to split the students into teams of 3 or 4.
  • Draw a line down the middle of the board and write a topic- ie Easter in Greece- at the top.
  • The students must then write as many words as you require related to the topic in the form of a relay race.
  • Each team wins one point for each correct word. Any words that are unreadable or misspelled are not counted.
F1. Origami mini books craft
Here’s a picture which will help you make your own origami mini book.
And here’s a short video tutorial.
F2. The Origami Mini Book HANGMAN game
This classic game is a favorite for all students. It works no matter how many students are in the class.
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How to play:
As usual, hand each student one mini book-In our case, it’s a Greek Recipe mini Book .
Ask the students, to read them.
Then, play have them play this game.
In case you’ve never played, here’s a quick rundown.
  • Think of a -Greek recipe- word/name and write the number of letters on the board using dashes to show many letters there are.
  • Ask students to suggest a letter. If it appears in the word, write it in all of the correct spaces. If the letter does not appear in the word, write it off to the side and begin drawing the image of a hanging man.
  • Continue until the students guess the word correctly (they win) or you complete the diagram (you win).
  • They win an extra point, if they can tell you anything about that recipe, in correct English.

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Our Magic Box Treasure hunt

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Research Says: The benefits of using games in the classroom are various. they “range from cognitive aspects of language learning to more cooperative group dynamics.” Games also lower the affective filter and encourage “creative and spontaneous use of language,” promote “communicative competence.” What’s more—games are fun.

Treasure hunts (aka scavenger hunts) can be arranged in a variety of ways, and so they are suitable for any level.

Here’s one of the things I do, with my junior classes  :

I bring a “Magic Box ” in class and ask my students to fill it in, with …”magic things”!

They make their own word cards, with their favorite “magic items ” on . They are asked to draw items, based on vocabulary studied.

I hide these  vocabulary cards around the room and use verbal, visual or audio clues, to direct the students to where the cards are. (They can only keep the card if they can name the item, or pronounce/spell what’s on the card correctly). I generally only let one student loose at a time to prevent scrapping !…

I love working on Treasure hunt games, with my junior classes, the most.

Of course, as the students progress we can make the treasure hunt (clues etc.) more difficult.

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General intrsutions

How to Play

  1. Students are divided into groups.
  2. Each group has a list of items/cards to find.
  3. The rules are explained: Students are to find as many items as they can within an allotted time period. They can find the items in any order, but the team must stay together.
  4. Inform players of the area of the hunt.
  5. When the time limit is up, the teams meet at the designated spot.
  6. Each group responds with their card item spelling/definition/ etc.
  7. If they do it right, the team is awarded one point.
  8. The team with the most points wins.

How to Make It

  1. First, prepare the list or cards of items to find
  2. Make sure the items can be “found” in the area that you have the scavenger hunt.
  3. Select items based on vocabulary studied.

Variations

  1. Students can each submit a card/item to be found.
  2. With older students, you can use clues, with a certain part of speech (e.g., adjective or adverb).
  3. The game concludes after so many cards are found instead of being limited by a certain time frame.

 

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End of the School Year fun ideas, for YL

Each June, my students and me, get to celebrate all of the learning, hard work, and progress that we have made with end of the year  activities, in class.

After a long school year, creating and planning activities for an end of the year celebration is the last thing on my mind. There are always end-of-year assessments, data entry, deadlines, assemblies, and the usual chaos that stands at the forefront, but I still want to do some special activities with my classes.  I have tried several awesome activities that work, all these years! I save time by providing end-of-year activities for my students that are ready to decorate! Sharing here, some exciting ideas that double as great keepsakes:

Most of these ideas, which I have tested in class, with huge success, come from this site.

BALLOON TOSS: GOALS FOR THE FUTURE

I give each of my older students, a slip of paper and invite him or her to write one goal for the future.
I have students slip the notes inside balloons and then inflate them. Later, I have them toss balloons (like graduation caps), keeping one to pop and share its (anonymously) written message aloud –with the rest of the class.
(Actually, work the last part out in a way that the majority of the group likes—read one message, several messages, or all or no messages)

My 6th graders, simply love this activity! Alternatively, you could try the…

“Fortune Cookie” Balloon Toss    
I have a brainstorming session with students about the adventures of summer and all of the good things that might happen. I have every student write one positive “fortune” on a pre-cut slip of paper such as “You will go on a marvelous adventure,” “You will achieve your goals,” “You will make a new friend,” etc. Each student will put his or her slip into a balloon, inflate it and tie it off. We make a large circle and play a song. I have students toss balloons around until the music stops. Each student should end up with one balloon. Using whatever means they like (sitting on it, using a sharp pencil, hair clip, etc.),  students pop their balloons and read their fortunes. I go around the circle and have each student share his or her fortune aloud.

THANKS FOR THE COMPLIMENT

(A nice way to end the school year! Especially with older students or the ones who graduate)
Need: Paper, markers, tape
1.  Everyone gets a piece of paper taped to their back. (Make sure their name is at the top of the paper.)
2.  Each person is given a marker.
3.  Each person in the group must walk around the room and write a compliment or positive remark about that person on their back….. NO PEEKING!
4.  When everyone has written something positive on each others back, they return to their seat and read what was written.
5.  With a smaller group, everyone exchanges papers without looking at their own. Each participant can take a turn at reading aloud from person’s list they have.

This is a great self-esteem booster for kids! If some children still don’t know each other very well…they can write such things as: You have a great smile; You’re hair always looks nice; Great blue eyes; etc.

AUTOGRAPH BOOK

At the end of the year I have each younger student make an autograph book. They pass around their books and get everyone’s signatures and special notes ,for a summer keepsake.

IDEA: TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS DURING THE YEAR and put together a slide show.

1.  Of course we can show this as PART OF A YEAR-END SCHOOL EVENT—but it would also be a wonderful “WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION to the new children we will have the next school year.
2.  We could use it to show children and families some of the things we do-how they’re done–and what to expect!

I do it, every single  year! Both parents and students, appreciate it!

‘Indoor or Outdoor FIELD DAY’ ideas 

All children love playground games and some movement is crucial, when it comes to young learners. I usually, pre-teach the instructions and basic English games vocabulary in class, before we move out to play.

  • Potato Sack Races (using old pillow cases or sacks purchased from Oriental Trading or similar supplier)
  • Shoe Mix-Up: Have children take off their shoes and mix up the whole pile; have them race to put the shoes back on.
  • Tug of War: Using a huge rope have Kids vs. Kids and then play with Kids vs. Adults (They’ll like that one!)
  • Sock Throw: Put a tennis ball into a long sock and have kids throw it to see who can throw it the furthest!
  • How about the games played in ‘Summer Olympic Games’ such as:SOFTBALL, FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, HANDBALL, HOCKEY, TENNIS OR VOLLEYBALL? They’re all Summer Olympic Games!!!

A LETTER TO PARENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR…

This letter below, is just one example. It’s a tradition for me, to write a letter to all parents, both at the beginning and at the end of each school year! I include all our goals and achievements. It works well, so far.

Dear Parents,
I give you back your child ~ the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give him/her back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature then he was then.

Although he would have attained his growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch his personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development.

Ten years from now if we met on the street, we’ll feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.
We have lived, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give him/back I must. Take care of him, (or her) for he (she) is precious. I’ll always be interested in your child and his destiny, wherever he goes, whatever he does, whoever he becomes.

Program/Class AWARDS

 

This school year, I made  up some fun and unique awards for my older students. Together with the students in class, we found  something unique about EACH CHILD and recognized them for that unique quality.I created the awards myself on a PC but you can also download a template from the internet.

A suggestion I have found  here and we loved, in class:
We made up awards to match candy bars (I personally, adapted the names a bit…Had to match candy bars, we can buy in Greece ). Here are the names, in the original post :

  • ALMOND JOY AWARD: For the person who is always happy
  • BIT-O-HONEY AWARD: For someone very sweet
  • BUTTERFINGER AWARD: For the person who broke the most things
    accidentally
  • DOVE AWARD: For the program/class peacemaker
  • GUMMY BEARS AWARD: For a very lovable child, who is always laughing
  • JOLLY RANCHER AWARD: For the person always telling jokes
  • KIT KAT AWARD: For the student always at the teacher’s side
  • LAFFY TAFFY AWARD: For someone with a sweet disposition
  • LIFESAVERS AWARD: For the person, who is always helping someone in need
  • MILKY WAY AWARD: For the group daydreamer
  • MR. GOODBAR AWARD: For the student who exhibits the good qualities of friendship
  • NESTLE CRUNCH AWARD: An alternative to pencil chewing
  • NUTRAGEOUS AWARD: For an outstanding personality
  • NUTRAGEOUS AWARD: for the wild and crazy person in class
  • SKOR AWARD: For athletes in the class
  • SNICKERS AWARD: For having an outstanding sense of humor
  • SWEET TARTS AWARD: For a sweet girl/boy
  • SYMPHONY AWARD: For anyone musical
  • TEDDY GRAHAMS AWARD: For the most huggable
  • THREE MUSKETEERS AWARD: For the one always with the group
  • WHOPPERS AWARD: For the best storytelling
  • ZERO MATH AWARD: For outstanding performance in Math

etc

End-of-Year Charades

I have each student write out one memorable moment from the school year on a slip of paper. I collect all the slips in a bag, hat, etc. I divide kids into teams and have them come up one team at a time, choose a slip and act out the memory for the group. No need to keep score—the goal is just to relive all the happy memories from the year and…use their English , of course…

Alternatively, I have them write their “End of School Year Reflections”-my own favourite end-of-school-year read!

“I Remember When …” Mural 


This is a great activity when we have a few extra minutes to fill or when kids need a short brain break. I always use it ,on the very last day in class. I decorate the top of a long piece of butcher paper with the words “I Remember When …” -older students – or ” I want to say goodbye to…” -younger students- in large print.  I allow students to write and draw favorite memories from the school year until all the space is filled. We display our banner proudly in our classroom or out in the hall for others to enjoy.

 

 

 

The benefits of using drama, in the EFL- YL class

William Shakespeare claimed that

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143

We all realize that,teaching in the primary classroom, is very different from teaching teens or adults, because of the amount of energy children have! Knowing how to channel this energy, will help us achieve balanced lessons without children becoming over-excited on the one hand or bored on the other.

One tool to manage this is, Drama/acting out.

As an English teacher, I have often been amazed at how effective drama is to capture the attention of the students in the EFL classroom.   We cannot only teach grammar and phonetics with drama ,but also it has the power to transform the student-actors ,as well as the audience.  Therefore, we shouldn’t underestimate this powerful teaching tool, to reach our students.

I personally love the use of masks and puppets, in my YL classes!
Puppets or masks can really bring alive a dialogue, role-play or story.

My suggestions?

Make simple masks out of paper plates for main characters. Bring in realia and props for children to use for acting out e.g. some real money and a bag for shopping. Have a dressing up box of simple props such as hats, glasses etc. Puppets or finger puppets can be used to liven up even the most boring dialogue, especially when accompanied by funny voices!

 

In my classes, puppetry works like this: using various odds and ends (paper, glue, cotton, wool etc), each child makes a simple puppet and describes its character to the rest of the class. When several puppets have been described in this way, the children work together in groups to produce a scene using the characters. They could alternatively make puppets of characters in their (course book) -one word-and enact dialogues from the book. (Hand puppets can be made using old socks, stick puppets with ice-cream  sticks.)

 

Generally taking, I firmly believe that, we need to use drama more in the schools.   The language can be used in context and makes it come to life.  Drama has the potential of making the learning experience fun for the students and even memorable because it is interactive and visual.

The personal nature of improvisation, provides many outlets for self-expression. We all know that, children need to play as an important developmental process.

What is more, drama puts the teacher in the role of supporter in the learning process and the students can take more responsibility for their own learning.

The play acting can help to relieve the tension of learning in a second language.

The shyness and fear of using English, very often blocks learning. When the students are having fun, they tend to relax and stop blocking out the new language.

Role-playing is a powerful tool,too.  It teaches cooperation, empathy for others, decision making skills and encourages an exchange of knowledge between the students.  These aspects alone make role-playing beneficial because the students are learning from each other.   Apart from the obvious development of communication skills, it encourages leadership, team work, compromise, authentic listening skills .

The benefits of drama to develop the imagination should not be undervalued.  In our rote school routines of memorization and compulsory subject matter, we sometimes do not spend enough time on encouraging our students to use their imagination.

We need imagination to make a better world. In order to accomplish anything worthwhile, we first need to imagine and dream it.  I always emphasize my students that fact!

I also tell them that, in life, we are all playing many roles, therefore, we are wearing many masks.Older students,easily  understand this.

Few tested methods for incorporating Drama in the EFL class , summarised

Act out the Dialogue

One of the easiest ways to incorporate drama in the classroom is to have students act out the dialogue from their textbooks. Simply pair them up, have them choose roles, then work together to act out the dialogue, figuring out for themselves the “blocking,” or stage movements.

Perform Reader’s Theater

Another good beginning exercise is to do Reader’s Theater. Hand out copies of a short or one-act play, have students choose roles, and then read the play from their seats without acting it out. However, do encourage them to read dramatically, modeling as necessary.It’s an alternative and fun way of practicing reading aloud, as well!

Act out the Story

This is particularly effective with “short-shorts”: brief, one-scene stories with limited characters.

Write the Dialogue for a Scene

Watch a brief clip of a cartoon movie without the sound on. Have older students write a simple dialogue for it and act it out.

Act out and Put Words to an Emotion

Give students an emotion, such as “anger” or “fear”. Have students, either singly or in groups, first act out that emotion then put words to the emotion.

Give “Voice” to an Inanimate Object

 

What would a stapler say if it could talk? Or an apple? Have students write monologues with inanimate objects as the character. Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy might also be termed a monologue, for example.

After writing them, students can read the monologues aloud.

Create a Character

Have students develop a character, writing a one-page profile on the character’s background, appearance, personality, etc. Have them introduce the character to the class, explaining what interests them about their character.

Write a Monologue

Using the character they’ve already developed, have students write a monologue for that character then perform it.

Mime 

Have students act out short scenes without dialogue. The rest of the class then supplies the dialogue, developing the “script.”

In role playing, the participants are assigned roles which they act out in a given scenario.

Improvise

Put students in groups of two or three, and assign the characters and the situation to the groups.Students create the dialogue and movement themselves.

With careful planning, use of drama enhances our English classroom curriculum and adds fun in our teaching!

Drama encourages adaptability, fluency, and communicative competence .

“The Wizard of Oz”:School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

” Alice in Wonderland”:School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

” Interviewing….Barbie”: ‘Pretend games’ are a central part of a child’seducation.
When they dress up as a princess,they become a princess.

I always encourage my students to use short plays, skits or other drama activities to present their projects in class.  Here,….. Hurem, Sultan Suleiman’s wife is being interviewed about her life in the harem !! Improvisation works miracles! Kids, decide about their costumes and they write their own lines…..

Note:Ideas, first found and later tried out in class, on  https://busyteacher.org 

State schools in Greece: can ELT teachers, actually, make a difference?

 

 

The basics

The Greek education system has been criticized over the years by Greek people for various issues, like difficulty levels of the exams during Panhellenic Examinations, number of teaching hours in schools etc.”

I personally, teach Primary.

In Greece, Primary schools are called “Dimotiko” (demotic, meaning municipal), a carryover term from a time when such schools were run by local communities. The name remains although it has been obsolete for decades. In the first two years pupils are not officially graded, and parents obtain feedback about their performance via oral communications with teachers. Grading begins in Year 3, and written exams are introduced in Year 5. Graduating from one year to the next is automatic, and pupils with deficient performance are given remedial tutoring. Years are called “classes”, from first to sixth.

Enrollment to the next tier of compulsory education, the Gymnasium, is automatic.”

 

My experience and few facts

I have been working  in a State/Public School, for more than 20 years . I have also worked in Private Schools, Private Language Institutions/Schools, Technological Educational Institutes (T.E.I.), Vocational education and training Schools.

Generally talking, there can be heard and seen lots of facts that show people’s disappointment by the Greek Education System.

Many people claim that Greek schools’ role does little to help them make use of their abilities in life.

In Greece, students often have lodged complaints about the teaching and grading system of their teachers.

More than 90% of Greek schools are public and over 90% of all pupils in Greece attend a public institution. The Greek Constitution grants free public education to all citizens, including immigrants who live in Greece permanently. All students are provided with free textbooks and free transport if they live far from the school.

 

Public education is certainly advantageous from a financial point of view, but may lack the necessary technical infrastructure and organization present in private schools.

Another important issue which is causing disturbance in many Greek families is the existence of paid private classes named frontistiria (φροντιστήρια) whose attendance by the Greek students has become a necessity in order for them to be able to achieve high grades and succeed in their exams. This is a phenomenon noticed especially as the student approaches the 3rd grade of upper high school because of the high difficulty of the Panhellenic Examinations. It has been an object of criticism due to the high fees that most Greek families are called to pay, thus deviating from the concept of a free and accessible education for everyone.

On the other hand, a system that is deprived of resources (school libraries, computer labs, modern buildings, adequate play spaces, etc) can only depend so much on the creative potential of the teachers. A lot of articles have been written on the starving students, lack of books, heating, electricity, copy paper, etc.

The system is starved. What do we expect the teachers to do with just a basal in their hands?

ELT in Greek Primary Schools and the English Teacher

Many years ago, the introduction of foreign language instruction in the early state primary
education was expected to limit or even replace private language tuition. Far from such
expectations, however, the number of private language institutes in Greece more than
tripled ,during the last decades, as private language tuition seems to have become
the norm rather than the exception.

The data of the Ministry of Education show that currently there are more than 7,350 language schools in the
country. The fact is that state schools provide fewer contact hours and less intensive courses
than private language institutes… this may be one of the reasons why parents tend to believe
that foreign languages are better learned at private language institutes.

 

Teachers of English in Greece are expected to be highly proficient in the language they teach
and quite well versed in current teaching methodologies. However, university courses in
methodology seem to place more emphasis on raising student teachers’ awareness of
different methods and approaches to language teaching rather than providing an
educational background of pedagogical principles .
Contrary to what might be expected, the introduction of English language teaching in
primary education has had very little influence on the programme of studies of the relevant
university departments! Consequently, even today, the pedagogical education of English
language teachers seems to be quite limited.

According to  my dear Greek colleague Vivi Hamilou, on her  blog post :
“Can we really expose Greek EFL learners in public primary schools to experiential learning (learning by doing and making meaning from having a direct, personal experience)? I couldn’t really answer that by saying just a ‘yes’, or ‘no’. We work in public schools with outdated and or inadequate facilities, we only have 3 45-minute sessions with our learners per week at best, transporting learners to the appropriate place for experiential learning to place costs a lot … I could go on forever, but would I only be making excuses?”
 
  Unfortunately, the constant changes in the Greek education
system and political instability have affected TEYL in the country.
Language teachers in Greece, whether in the private or public sector, are not offered pre- or
in-service training, which is vital for the development of any educator. The
present situation results in new language teachers beginning their career
confused and lost. Because of their lack of self-confidence language educators
resort to teacher-centred approaches which they imitate from their own
experience as students as will be discussed (Giannikas, 2013a).
Language teachers in state schools carry the stereotype of the
demotivated educator with limited will of professional development due to the
security they feel once commencing a career in the public sector. During
interviews, however, state school teachers made it a point to emphasize the
extent to which they take pride in their work. Those who have been in the
profession longer claim that they have grown exhausted of the constant
criticism they endure, since they feel they are not the ones to blame. They
believe to be neglected lacking basic facilities and an updated course-book.
They have not received training and are currently struggling with various
teaching approaches suggested by the Ministry of Education. The fact that
teachers have had no guidance to make any new adjustments to their practice,
has increased their hesitation in introducing their own teaching material,
changing teaching approaches or even applying a different seating layout
(Giannikas, 2013b).
Greek Primary Schools -Can we make a difference?
On the other hand, I work in Primary and I know first hand that, many English Teachers in Greece, use all the above as excuses ….
And I personally, hate excuses!

 I strongly believe, we should never complain, in life, in general  !

I never do!

After all, my  motto is….”when there is a will, there is a way” !

Even if things are not ideal, we teachers can do our best, with what we have.

For me, the key word, when it comes to teaching YL is CREATIVITY- Not school resources and Ministry policies!

Creativity makes a huge difference. Creativity is vital for any classroom to be successful. Creativity can make the difference in our ELT even under the most difficult circumstances! Especially, in State Schools.

Although formal training will help you develop as a teacher, it’s important to connect with others in our field. Inspiration can come from the big-name speakers and writers, but just as often, it comes from teachers like you and me.

It’s never been easier to find inspiring teachers to follow on Facebook, Twitter and in the blogosphere. We can follow and read their blogs, we can join a Teachers Association and attend  talks and workshops, live or online.

You can start a teaching journal or a blog. I have!

The act of blogging and describing your teaching ideas generates conversations with other teachers, and those conversations stimulate more ideas!

Learning about other things is important too. Creative teachers bring more to class than just a knowledge of teaching.

A sure-fire way to burn out as a teacher is, to stick to the same ideas and techniques without trying something new. This approach is bound to demotivate your students at some point too.

According to my favourite High School teacher, Vasilis Siouzoulis, our role as English Teachers, regardless the circumstances and the objections , is to inspire , to groom conscientious, focused, purposeful students who will combine efforts with already laid brass tracks to build a great world.

Being a teacher means being there, giving everything I can, making sure I am as knowledgeable as I can be about my content and about my students’ lives; it means sacrifice for the sake of helping kids in need and it means caring about students unconditionally. I am not a teacher for me–We are  teachers for our students. When teaching becomes about us, I think , we will know, it is time to stop teaching.  Being a teacher is exciting, enjoyable, and REWARDING! There’s nothing more rewarding for a teacher than to see how happy , engaged and enthusiastic her  students become when they work on something that makes sense and connects the class with the world! It’s priceless! Believe me! It’s worth any effort!It brings the class together, it helps the teacher connect with the students more and the students connect with their peers all over the globe by means of an international code of communication: English!
My  most favourite quote, comes from Albert Einstein:

If the longing for the goal is powerfully alive within us, then we shall not lack the strength to find the means for reaching the goals!

Fun ball games, in the ELT class

I love trying  activities, which I find online or hear about in Seminars and Conventions, in my classes, to see how they work! These amazing ball games ,which I read about here, few months ago, really worked !! So, I had to share!

By the way, busyteacher.org, is by far, my most  favourite site!

 With a database of 17,246 free printable worksheets and lesson plans for teaching English. BusyTeacher will save you hours in preparation time.

Highly recommended to all!

Sometimes, low tech is better! Even the most financially lacking classrooms or schools can provide fun, creative activities for their students!

So, here are some great activities for our English class that will only require a ball

  1. Spelling Ball –This game is as simple as ABC. Have your students stand in a big circle. Say a word and toss the ball to one of your students. Student says the first letter of the word and tosses the ball to a classmate, who has to say the second letter, and then tosses the ball to another. Students who make a mistake must sit down and play starts again with the teacher. The last student standing is the winner!

  1. Shoot for Points-Set up a trash can, bin, or any container that will serve as your “basket”. Students line up. Choose a topic or grammar point, for example Past Simple. Ask each student a question: Where did you go last weekend? If student uses the verb in simple past correctly, they may shoot for points: 10 points if they score; 5 if they miss, but answered the question correctly.

  1. Choose Your Victim-This is a great way to make a Q &A session more “active”. Students stand in a circle. Give them a grammar point to practice through questions, for example, tell them to ask questions with “ever” so they practice Present Perfect. First student asks a question with “ever” (Have you ever been to London?) and tosses the ball to a classmate who must answer correctly to stay in the game and earn the right to ask a question. Those who make a mistake must leave the circle. 

  1. Freeze!-This game is ideal for little ones! Practice vocabulary with flashcards. First, teach students the meaning of “Freeze!” as stop. Students sit in a wide circle with a set of flashcards in the center. Students pass the ball around the circle. Tell them they can’t hold the ball for more than a second. Cover your eyes while they do this and say, “Freeze!” The student who has the ball must stop and take a flashcard from the pile. Depending on your students’ ages and level, ask them to either say the word or use it in a sentence.

  1. It’s a bomb!-This is a great way for students to introduce themselves and learn their classmates’ names in a first lesson. Also a fun way to practice or review possessive pronouns! Have students sit in a circle. Give one of them the ball, and say, “It’s a bomb! The timer is ticking (use an egg timer!)” Tell them they have to say their name, pass the ball, and say their classmate’s name: My name is Juan. Your name is Maria. The student who has the “bomb” when the timer goes off, leaves the circle. Have students re-arrange themselves in the circle so they’re sitting next to different students, and start again.* I have also used this game to revise vocabulary! It works great with spelling tasks.

  1. Description Dodgeball-Use a very light, soft ball for this game, as students will be trying to hit each other! Have students line up on one side of the classroom (if you can play this in the schoolyard, better!) One student stands in the front next to you holding the ball. Describe one of the students in your class: This student is the tallest in the class. The student you are describing has to run to avoid being hit by the student with the ball. If the student is hit, he/she becomes the next thrower. You may also have students wear tags with names of cities, animals, or places for you to describe.I have used the same game to revise parts of the body. The teacher or a student, describes one of the students standing in the circle and the student with the ball, tosses it to the student with that characteristic. He must then spell /translate/define etc a word to stay in the game. eg ” He has blue eyes-She is has long brown hair…”

  1. Basketball Dare-Practice giving commands. Set up a “basket” far enough away for it to be a challenge, but not impossible for students to score. Students line up and shoot for the basket. If students score, they get to give you a command you must follow: “Walk like a monkey”, “Say something in Chinese”, “Stand on one foot for 30 seconds”, etc… Make sure you establish some ground rules, for example, students can’t give you commands that involve shouting, leaving the classroom, etc…

Enjoy! I am sure your students will just love them!

Interactive Grammar Notebooks-part c

As I had already written in my first  and second posts on Interactive Grammar Notebooks, last year was my first year to use interactive notebooks.  Before school began, I found myself  with the desire PLUS precious  direction, from my  amazing Greek colleague, Papadeli Sophia !

I have to thank her again so much, for all the inspiration and support!

Overall, they were a success- Experimenting on them during this first school year with few students, among whom was my daughter, was great fun!…I’m sure, we’ll do much better this  year ,with all my afternoon classes, at school!

This  notebook is built, by adding each grammar skill or concept as an insert gradually throughout the year as they are introduced to new material. By the end of year, they  have a complete notebook they can use as a reference and I can use as an assessment tool or portfolio piece.This is simple and can be done with any grammar curriculum we are using.

First, I used a common notebook,  school glue, scissors and markers/colored pencils. Since we are fully stocked on school supplies, I did not need to make any new purchases.

Then, ideally, we should reserve the first 1-2 pages for the table of contents. I admit that, I didn’t do that, this first year…Going forward, we add a new page for each skill.

The next step is to find some ideas or even printables and foldables for the Grammar notebooks …I asked Sophia Papadeli to help me get started and I also visited Pinterest and used my imagination and creativity, of course!

Here are just  few new pages for you to have a look at, get inspired and hopefully, start your own Grammar Notebooks, this school year!

PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE/MOVEMENT/TIME

PREPOSITIONS OF TIME

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

BE GOING TO

 

 

BE GOING TO for making predictions based on evedence

BE GOING TO -plans

WILL

PAST PROGRESSIVE

 

ARTICLES

RELATIVES

COUNTABLE-UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

REPORTED SPEECH

EXPRESS FUTURE PLANS, USING THE PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

SOME/ANY- EXPRESSING QUANTITY

MODALS ( A guessing game, using pictures)