Social media gifts

I hope everyone enjoyed their Xmas break and their gifts – the physical, psychological and social. And that everyone is having a good first week back (if you are back, if not lucky you!).

This time some two years or more ago I would have been in much more of a panic due to having to come up with some interesting lessons. Now with the gift of social media I am able to rely on teachers around the world sharing great ideas.

#flashmobELT

The first resource I leant on was the #flashmobELT. I used the Tag It activity posted by Anna Loseva/ ‏@AnnLoseva. The way I used it was to write on the board 3 tags that described three events of my Xmas holiday:

wooden
cycle
Echo

The students were asked to question me to find out the meanings of the tags.
(scroll to end for the meanings).

The students then did this in pairs themselves, with me highlighting the need to probe for any details, once finished they told me what they had discovered about their partner’s Xmas break.

The engagement in the activity was very noticeable, I also rounded up some typical language errors that stood out.

This is a very simple setup that can work with a number of language points. Although the activity itself is not new, the way it was framed by Anna as tags gives it a contemporary feel which my students easily recognized. Recommended!

An Idea a day – Brrr

The next resource I used was provided by ellensclass/ ‏@ellensclass on her Idea a day site. The blog post was on the arctic temperatures over in the USA, I used the  video and the NPR news text.

To set up the video I asked my students to rearrange the mixed up title of the video that I had boarded. I then told them to offer suggestions as to what advice the video would give. I asked them if they had heard of the low temperatures hitting the USA.

Then I simply played the video one time. I did a quick comprehension check by asking them to list the activities in order and what the guy said at the end of the video.

Next I asked them to imagine making a quick survey to poll people based on the activities e.g. see this photo of the board:
brrr
The aim of this was to review and practice some language for approximating data – so I did the poll with the class and asked then to rephrase the results e.g. Nearly everyone in the survey has listened to the snow, Hardly anyone said that they would go swimming outside in the winter etc.

I then used the NPR text in a match the title to text race, where I dictated the 7 titles to the students (explaining that they referred to 7 events that happened in the chilly conditions in the US) and then in teams they had to run over to a table containing the texts to find a match. The team who finished first with correct matches wins.

Pre-social media

I did use a course book resource when looking at telephone language in another part of the lesson. And as mentioned all the activities are not new but in my pre-social media days finding appropriate and interesting content such as the video and the text would have been much more difficult.

So thanks very much to all the folks in my social media who freely share and inspire daily.

And thanks for reading.

Oh yeah nearly forgot my tags:

wooden – It was the first real Xmas with our 20-month old son so the wooden referred to the wooden/cardboard tree we bought rather than a real Xmas tree. Great fun was had by our son in playing with it

cycle – I am not too keen on NYE parties partly because of the transport issues and partly because they are usually disappointing. This year however as my wife stayed home with our baby and also as my friend only lives 15/20 minutes aways by bike I ventured out. And had a surprisingly good NYE party, nice!

Echo – This was the name of an art exhibition, of someone my wife knows, that we went to see – video installations, not bad.

CPU Wars – Numbers and CPU lexis practice

The #EAPchat gaming blog challenge is an opportune time to write about CPU Wars, a Top Trumps modelled card game that I use with first year engineering students to practice numbers and CPU related vocabulary.

In the deck, there are 30 cards of desktop CPUs from the last 40 years. I use a blown up A3 photocopy of one of the cards to show the class. I point out the various characteristics and clarify any questions. A common question is about the unit for the max bus speed, GT/s, which stands for giga transfers per second. Although I have yet to do this a possible extension is to get them to read up on this and explain it to the class.

CPU Wars example cards

Click to enlarge

As there are 30 cards in a pack, you need to make groups into a number that divides into 30. My typical engineering class is 12 so I usually make 3 groups of 4 students or 6 groups of 2 students depending on how much time I want to devote to the game, i.e. 6 groups for longer game play sessions.

I deviate from the usual rules by allowing each group to nominate their category in turn rather than the winner of the previous round. I also make sure that each person in the group has a go at saying a category and its value.

CPU Wars how to play card

Click to enlarge

The game is great to practice pronuncuation of numbers and CPU related vocabulary. One could also use the short descriptions under each CPU photo, for example, in a scan reading/multiple matching type task though I have yet to do this. In addition one could make use of this document explaining the various categories.

There are plans for a deck based on mobile phone cpus, exciting stuff!

Hope you pick up a pack after reading this post.