This blog is aimed at professionals who seek professional excellence and are tireless in learning more and more... Here you will find classroom management tips, teacher development issues and a myriad of class games and activities to enhance your lesson plan. Many thanks for your visit!!

terça-feira, 17 de dezembro de 2013

Can I have your attention please?! Attention getters

Attention Getters are must-haves for young learner classes. Think about it: You've sent students to work in small groups or with partners. It's time to call their attention back to you for further directions or a change in activity. How will you get their attention? This seems like such a small issue, but it's NOT! You need multiple tools in your toolbox in order to handle this smoothly because you will do it multiple times every day.

Below you find a selection of nice chants to grab attention for young learners:

Teacher: Hocus pocus – Students: everybody focus
Teacher: Macaroni and cheese – Students: everybody freeze
Teacher: All set- Students: you bet!
Teacher: Hands on top – Students: everybody stops
Teacher: ABC –Students: Easy as 123
Teacher: Scooby Dooby Doo – Students: Where are you?

Now, some other handy techniques:

The quiet spray!: you spray the ROOM to signal children to get quiet. Or you can just leave the bottle empty and spray a child!

Give me five: raise your open hand in the air without saying anything. Your students then put their hand in the air too. Start counting down on your fingers (not saying anything, just moving your fingers) and your students will follow along just moving their fingers. Teach them that by the time your are making a fist (representing zero) everyone should be quiet and looking at you.

terça-feira, 3 de setembro de 2013

Let's think drilling outside the box! Drilling games

Although many teachers and students think drills can be incredibly boring, it goes without saying they play an important role in the ESL classroom. Boring or useful… one thing is a fact: Drills are like that - They make students repeat target language until it sticks.
Drilling is a powerful teaching technique that leads to quick production of target language. However, if used incorrectly, students may be able to produce mechanically without real understanding of the meaning or context of what they are saying. They are best implemented in the early stages of a lesson, as target language is presented or to provide controlled practice.
Try to think drilling as a game where there is a whole scenario and objective and not just as repetition for the sake of repetition. I found below two example of drilling games to be used in the practice stage of your class. Believe me, students will be way more prepared for production stage. The key is “let’s think drilling outside the box”!!!

Lord of the Rings

Objectives: drilling the structure of questions and answers that you have recently covered in class.
Start the game by selecting four students. These students are the hobbits and will be asking the questions.
Get the four hobbits to stand in a straight line in front of the board.
You are the King. You have to sit on your throne behind the hobbits.
Assign each of the four hobbits a question, e.g. What's your name? How old are you? Where do you live? What's your favourite food?
The remaining students are the orks. They form a queue near the first hobbit.
The first hobbit asks the first ork in the queue their assigned question in this case "What's your name?" The ork replies "My name is ..." and they rock, paper, scissors.
If the ork wins, he or she can go on to the second hobbit who will then ask him or her the assigned question, e.g. How old are you?
The ork replies and again, they rock, paper, scissors. If the ork wins, they proceed to the third hobbit and so on.
However, if at any time an ork loses at rock, paper, scissors to a hobbit, they must return to the starting line and repeat the whole process.
If an ork manages to get pasted all four hobbits, they rock, paper, scissors with the king and if the ork wins, the king has been dethroned and the ork is now the King. You must rejoin the game with other orks in an attempt to get past all the hobbits to reclaim your throne.

Conversation Race 

Divide the class into teams of five or six.
Have each team stand up in a line.
The teacher holds up a flash card and makes a sentence based on the picture.
Each team must repeat the teacher's sentence three times and then sit down.
The team that sits down first wins.
You can vary the ending by having the students do different actions like turn around or jump before they sit down, etc.
Also, instead of every student speaking at the same time, you can get each student to repeat the sentences one at a time and then sit down.

quinta-feira, 4 de julho de 2013

Vocab hint! Willy-nilly!

I was watching a movie the other day and I heard this: I willy-nilly had to go to school.
In Portuguese we could translate as:  Eu tive que ir para a escola por bem ou por mal!
I’ve heard other expressions with a similar meaning ( come hell or high water, by hook or by crook) but this one (willy-nilly) sounded more informal.

For more reference go to:

sexta-feira, 21 de junho de 2013

Fostering "Constructive Alignment"

Biggs (2003) has been influential in his work in the area of what he calls ‘constructive alignment.’ The basic premise of constructive alignment is that the curriculum is designed so that the learning activities and assessment tasks are aligned in order to support students to attain the goals intended for the course. This concept considers students to be responsible for their own learning. If students construct their own learning, then it makes sense that the real learning can only be managed by them. In light of this view, education literature (e.g. King,1993) prefers educators to think of themselves more as guides on the side, not sages on the stage.

This role leaves educators in charge of coordinating the activities required to facilitate the learning experience and adopting the necessary supportive learning strategies. In this sense, educators are responsible for  setting clear goals, and more importantly, expectations. If students are provided with this  alignment between the objectives and the learning outcomes, they will be more intrinsically motivated, and as a result, their performance will be enhanced and their perception of educator effectiveness will improve as well.(McKone, 1999).

What about you? Have you considered this alignment between your goals and  students expectations in your lesson plan? If so, good job! If not, go for it. Students expectations and a positive learning perception are vital for our success as educators. It’s not enough setting clear goals if they don’t meet  students expectations.

One strategy teachers can use is accounting for the students’ perception of learning at the end of each class by using the picture below. Teachers can make stick figures with the names of the students on it and they will go to the board to put their stick figure on the stair step they think they achieved that class. The teachers then has the chance to praise, question and elicit more information about the feedback they are giving. Think about it!

sexta-feira, 7 de junho de 2013

Hobson's choice? What does it mean?

Meaning: a free choice in which only one option is offered. As a person may refuse to take that option, the option is therefore taking the option or not; "take it or leave it".

Em português, ás vezes, quando não temos a opção de escolher, dizemos que a escolha foi por livre e espontânea pressão!!! A Hobson’s choice!!!

quarta-feira, 29 de maio de 2013

The Joker and Ace game!

Procedures: Give out 3 Jokers and 3 Aces to each student (it can be a real card or a printed copy). They make a statement while laying one of their cards face down on the table (if the Joker/ Acer figure can be seen through the back of the paper, they’ll need to hide it under a book). If their partner thinks it is false, they can call their bluff by saying “Liar!” If it was indeed a lie, the person who laid the card down takes that card back, and any other cards still on the table from previous rounds. If it was in fact true, the person who made the accusation has to take the card or cards on the table and add them to their own pack. If no accusation is made (people should say nothing if they think the sentence is true), the card(s) stay there for the next round(s). The first person with no cards left in their hand is the winner.

Hints for teachers: This game can be used to work with any grammar topic or vocabulary as long as the teacher gives them the language chunks to be used. Also, it can be used as a warm-up or wrap-up but then, instead of 3 cards, give them 2, so that the game don’t last more than 10 minutes. If you decide to play with 3 cards the game will take around 15 minutes.

terça-feira, 21 de maio de 2013

Paper Clip Challenge! Fun way to learn about important facts of the English Language!

Challenge your students to play this true or false cool activity while they have the chance to enhance their knowledge of the English Language.
How to play: Give each student a strip of paper with a sentence (like the examples 1-10 below) and they keep it to themselves. After, students take turns to roll a dice and the first one to get a six will start the activity. This student will read his sentence aloud for the whole group. Students hide a small object like a paper clip in their right hand if they think the statement is something true and in their left hand if they think it is something false. After checking who got it right or wrong, the student who began the activity will choose the next one to read his statement and the activity goes on and on. The activity is very student-centered and empower students because they will be the ones to say if what they have read is true or false and not the teacher. The teacher will just act as a facilitator to guarantee the timing, organization and success. This activity will take tops 15 minutes!

1.   English is spoken today in all continents. (T)
2.   It is spoken as a first language by 370 to 400 million people. (T)
3.   The number of second language speakers and foreign language speakers is the same.(F)
4.   Brazil speaks English as a second language.(F)
5.   India, Kenya and Singapore use English as a second language.(T)
6.   English is the working language of the European Central Bank, although the bank is in Germany.(T)
7.   In Asia and the Pacific, nine out of ten international organizations work only in English.(T)
8.   The river name Thames, meaning dark river, derives from Old English and no one is really sure of the reason for it.(T)
9.   In Old English, there were no capital letters. (T)
10.Some names for the days of the week come from the names of gods and goddesses.(T)

Reference: Oxford University Press, The History of the English Language.

terça-feira, 14 de maio de 2013

Phrasal Verbs: Wanted Dead or Alive!!!

If you are either an English student or teacher, you may already have the feeling that phrasal verbs are so difficult that you will never be able to learn them. But the thing is: NEVER EVER GIVE UP!

Challenge yourself and your students and try to find below the top 25 most common and used Phrasal verbs and have a chance to practice and improve your English! And remember, native speakers use phrasal verbs all the time in conversation!

For more information go to:

sexta-feira, 10 de maio de 2013

What is at stake in the "teaching business"?

Day after day, teachers all over the world are faced with classroom situations that demand a great deal of self control and a high ratio in emotional intelligence (not to say "gut"!). This ‘business’ of the typical classroom setting can easily lead to feelings of cognitive overload. Students expectations towards learning have changed and sometimes teachers just cannot see what to do  to make their lesson plan meet this end. Taking a logical approach to course design and lesson plan, as well as interacting with our students is useful but it does not fully make us the teachers we are. It’s well known that students who feel valued and rewarded are more likely to approach their learning tasks with a sense of intrinsic motivation, whereas those who perceive less regard for their autonomy and competence are more likely to exhibit extrinsic motivation or to disengage from the learning process entirely.   True that, by and large, changes in lesson plan may be the key to success but there are a number of situations that will demand a little more from teachers...so I invite you to think whether you are able to teach with your gut and share some hints!

1) share your frustrations and expectations with more experienced teachers. Sometimes a person who sees a situation with the benefit of no emotional involvement may give you nice suggestions. Furthermore,
a large factor determining how an individual teacher fares in this “psychoclutter” is amount of experience (Feldon, 2007).
2) ask a peer to watch your class.
When we are teaching, juggling a myriad of things, we may not see something that is right between the eyes. On the other hand, an observer will manage to see many details and give precious hints.
3) talk to your coordinator or school counselor. Sometimes the situation you are facing with may require support from the parents.
4) research, read and study about the issue. Sometimes it is important to see that we are not alone and other people have been faced with similar situations worldwide.

For more information on the topic follow the link below:

Vocab hints!

There are these three expressions I have always wanted to know how to say and I finally found out. I hope it helps you too:

brinde - freebie
tudo junto (quanto você fala um e-mail, por exemplo) - all-in-one word. Meu e-mail, por exemplo, eu diria: anaisacunha, all-in-one word at hotmail dot com.
ser unha e carne com alguém: to be joined at the hip. E.g: I can go to London without Mike. We're not joined at the hip, you know.

quinta-feira, 28 de fevereiro de 2013

Have you ever thought of your charisma in the classroom?

Classes have just started in Brazil and you should know that you will begin working on your charisma on the first day of class and you will still be working on it on the last day of class. It’s a never ending process but the outcome is rewarding…being the person who makes students feel so important that they would never miss your class or forget to do your homework or talk back is priceless…

Let’s start by analisying how you see yourself relating to your students…

Now, after reflecting on your attitude towards your students, here are a few of the basic tenets  about classroom charisma that you can adapt to meet your needs. Start with the ones that you can manage with ease and then move on to work on the ones that are harder for you to manage.
  • Your class should be about your students and their work. Make them the focus of your attention. Some inexperienced teachers make the mistake of talking about their own lives too often while ignoring students, who are quietly tuning out.
  • Recall those teachers in your past who seemed to have that something special that made their classrooms an enjoyable place to be. What can you take away from those teachers that you could use know with your own students?
  • Smile at your students. No one likes a grouch. A teacher with a pleasant demeanor has half of the charisma battle won. What if you don’t feel like smiling? Do it anyway. You owe it to your students. Remember that your difficult students are the very ones who most need your smiling support.
  • Stand at the door to greet your students as they come into the classroom. You should greet your students to convey the message that you are glad to see them.
  • Overlook what you can. Although it is certainly OK to be strict with your students, there is a fine distinction between a strict teacher and a too-strict teacher. If you spend your day quibbling over minor problems with your students, you will not have enough time to attend to larger issues.
  • Early in the term, establish the procedures and routines your students should follow, and then stick to them as much as reasonably possible. Students who know what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to do it are much more comfortable than those who are uncertain about what you expect.
  • Laugh at yourself. While you should not be the focus of the class—your students and their work should be—you should let your students know that you have enough confidence to not take yourself too seriously.
  • Make sure to eliminate distracting personal habits that might annoy students. Some of the most obvious behaviors that interfere with classroom charisma are a monotone voice, poor eye contact, sloppy speech patterns, and distracting gestures.
  • Charismatic teachers talk less than their students do. Ask questions that will encourage students to share their ideas with you.