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.


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:


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:
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.

Runaround – 50 British inventions, scan reading

The Radio Times* is running a poll to find out what people think are the best British inventions, you can find the list here. The short texts are ideal for scan type reading activity.

I used a running quiz format, where students in pairs/threes took turns to run to where the lists were laid out on a table and return with the correct answer without taking the questions with them. I dictated the questions which they had to write down and also gave them 15 mins to do the activity, you can of course adjust this depending on students’ level.

Questions with answers:

1. How many inventions happened before the 20th century? 32
2. How many vacuum tubes were used for the Colossus computer? 1500
3. What and when was the most recent invention? Steri-spray in 2008
4. What was the key invention for the textile industry? Spinning Frame 1768
5. How many inventions are not products but ways of doing things?** 3, Float glass,  Bessemer Process, Cement
6. What percentage of today’s power stations use steam? 75 percent(3/4)
7. Who invented something while locked up? William Addis , Toothbrush, 1770
8. What invention relied on a previous invention by a French person? Tin Can
9. Who thought of an invention whilst in the bath? John Shepard Barron, ATM
10. What invention helped to catch a criminal? Electric telegraph

For some questions I also awarded bonus points if they could answer with any further details e.g. Q4 the year the spinning frame was invented.

You can use the list in a cleaned up version in .odt format 50 British inventions if you don’t want any of the pictures from the Radio Times link.

At the time of this post Steri-Spray is leading at 27%.

Hope you enjoy the acitivity and don’t forget to add your vote!

* Shame about the commercial fundamentalism promoted in the  commentary by Michael Mosely and the tired presentation that invention is an individual act.

** For question 5 I accepted that carbonating water could be seen as a process so the answer would be 4 processes including Soda water invention.