interactive polling using whatever technology the students have available

I guess I’m just dreaming but…..wouldn’t it be so great to quiz and poll students (especially in my large class) using their smartphones and get instant feedback? I just found this site that has the solution. But I guess I have to a)pay for it and b) be technologically set up for it – with a smartboard which our school doesn’t have. I guess I’ll keep looking and see if I can find any interim solutions!


How to Motivate Students at KS4 Level

How to Motivate Students at KS4 Level

Student motivation is at the heart of many classroom problems. Once you’ve got students engaged and interested half the battle is won.

The Flipped Classroom Boosts Grades 5%. Why That’s As Big As We Can Expect.

the flipped classroom model

The Flipped Classroom Boosts Grades 5%. Why That’s As Big As We Can Expect.

Classrooms across the nation are adopting a new technology trend known as the “flipped” classroom, where students watch lecture videos as homework and teachers use class-time for discussion. First popularized by YouTtube sensation, Sal Khan, 3 years ago, the flipped model gained traction far faster than researchers had time to study it.

Go to the link to read the full article.


I find this great news as I have been using flipped classroom methods for a while and feel it is the only way for a teacher to move forward in a fast-changing age of technology which is leaving ‘the old style’ redundant.

Historical Painting with Wikipedia Links & Mouse Over Tagging

Historical Painting with Wikipedia Links & Mouse Over Tagging

Historical Painting with Wikipedia Links & Mouse Over Tagging
A collection of the most good and evil people who ever lived… who would you add? The most influential thinkers, scientists, politicians, philanthropists, protestors, defenders of freedom, and contributors to the common good have been included. The “bad” guys include serial killers, tyrants, war mongers, and those that crushed the human spirit. Are those listed as ‘good’ perfect? Probably not, but their contributions to society, or their iconic stories, are hard to ignore. Are there justifications for all evil acts or are is all evil carried out by deranged minds.

Don’t you think this is a wonderful picture for a class discussion? So many moral topics can be raised. it also gets the students immediately busy trying to see how many of these figures they actually recognize.

A new class: building a learning environment together

I like the ideas but still am nervous about grouping my giant (40 kids at present) class simply because there isn’t space! I especially like the name idea – there’s always a story behind our names. Enjoy!


Many of us are starting new terms and working with new groups. We probably already know what the learners are expected to achieve in their time with us, and the pressure is on.

It’s tempting to dive straight in, but any new group will need to work through interpersonal issues before they can function effectively as a group (and as individuals within the group). We can ignore these issues, but that won’t make them go away; we’re just more likely to get our feet tangled in them, like weeds under the surface of the water.

In a central work on group dynamics in the classroom, Schmuck and Schmuck [no, it isn’t just you that finds their names amusing  :)], observe:

‘ Our research has shown that classroom groups with supportive friendship patterns enhance academic learning, while more hostile classroom environments reduce learning…informal group processes in the classroom can, and do…

View original post 912 more words

5 song extracts to help students link sounds better

5 song extracts to help students link sounds better

This post contains a 5-minute video with song excerpts highlighting some of the ways in which vowels, semi-vowels and consonant sounds are linked in English.

Elsewhere on this blog I have argued that pronunciation does matter and deserves far more attention than it’s been getting from mainstream ELT. I have tried to go beyond the old “what matters is intelligibility” paradigm and argued that we can’t ignore, for example, how annoyance potential might impact communication. I have also made a distinction between teaching pronunciation for production (i.e., enabling students to sound better) and teaching pronunciation for comprehension (i.e., highlighting features of linking, weak forms, sound discrimination etc.) and argued that perhaps we should place increased emphasis on the latter.

As I was feeling particularly musical last week (!), I decided to put together a short, self-contained video with five song excerpts, as well as on-screen questions, to help you raise students’ (B1 and above) awareness of sound linking in English. Before you click play, bear with me for a few more seconds:

1. I originally intended to devise a comprehension-based activity (identifying sounds, filling in the blanks etc), but the songs are so well-known that most students would probably recognize the words and maybe even feel like humming / singing along anyway. This means that I wound up creating something a little more output-oriented than the original plan.
2. As I wrote the activity, I kept going back to Michael Swan’s six criteria for good rules (truth, demarcation, clarity, simplicity, conceptual parsimony and relevance) and I must confess that, in hindsight, I fear I ended up sacrificing truth and demarcation for the sake of simplicity and conceptual parsimony. But they’re probably good enough for the average student, I think.
3. The pink rectangles on the video are meant to show students how the highlighted sounds blend. I’ve focused on the last letter of each word, rather than on the syllable itself. For example: all eyes o n us. Otherwise, “all eyes”, for example, would be boxed together, which students would probably find confusing.