The Strangest and Most Tragic Ghost Towns From Around the World

The Strangest and Most Tragic Ghost Towns From Around the World

Here is a link with a ton of amazing pictures of abandoned cities around the world. This is wonderful visual material for a whole load of writing or speaking activities

– trying to imagine what these places were like before they were abandoned

-practising ‘used to’ past forms

-creative writing in general

Practicing the present perfect and comparatives with a pop video that demonstrates use of photoshop

Here’s a great opportunity to practise the present perfect with your students. (upper-intermediate/advanced)

1.Pre: listening – general discussion about the uses and abuses of photo-shop. How is photo-shop used in the world around us? How can photo-shopped photos potentially be harmful to us?
2. Tell the class that they are about to watch a songclip (not in English) that demonstrates how photo-shop changes what we see. Tell them to make notes as to what changes are made to the singer’s looks via photo-shop throughout the clip.
3. After watching the video ask the students what changes have been made to the singer’s looks by the end of the video. Teacher models sentences using the present perfect tense such as
‘Photo-shop has changed the colour of her eyes.’

Students discuss other changes they notice.
The song could provoke further discussion or be a basis for any type of work on this topic or something similar.

Reblogged: A dozen basic guidelines for educators

A dozen basic guidelines for educators

eacher Vanessa Ford takes a break to visit with students Silvia Gutierre (Amanda Voisard / The Washington Post)

D.C. teacher Vanessa Ford and student (By Amanda Voisard / The Washington Post)

Do we really need education policies and practices to cover everything that goes on in the classroom? Author Alfie Kohn says “no” and, below, offers basic guidelines that can really help teachers. Kohn is the author of 12 books about education and human behavior, including “The Schools Our Children Deserve,” “The Homework Myth,” and “Feel-Bad Education… And Other Contrarian Essays on Children & Schooling.” He lives (actually) in the Boston area and (virtually) at

By Alfie Kohn

To create the schools our children deserve, it’s probably not necessary to devise specific policies and practices for every occasion.  Rather, these will follow logically from a few core principles that we devise together.  Here’s a sample list of such principles, intended to start a conversation among educators, parents, and (let’s not forget) the students themselves:

1.  Learning should be organized around problems, projects, and (students’) questions — not around lists of facts or skills, or separate disciplines.

2.  Thinking is messy; deep thinking is really messy.  Therefore beware prescriptive standards and outcomes that are too specific and orderly.

3.  The primary criterion for what we do in schools:  How will this affect kids’ interest in the topic (and their excitement about learning more generally)?

4.  If students are “off task,” the problem may be with the task, not with the kids.

5.  In outstanding classrooms, teachers do more listening than talking, and students do more talking than listening.  Terrific teachers often have teeth marks on their tongues.

6.  Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.

7.  When we aren’t sure how to solve a problem relating to curriculum, pedagogy, or classroom conflict, the best response is often to ask the kids.

8.  The more focused we are on kids’ “behaviors,” the more we end up missing the kids themselves — along with the needs, motives, and reasons that underlie their actions.

9.  If students are rewarded or praised for doing something (e.g., reading, solving problems, being kind), they’ll likely lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward.

10.  The more that students are led to focus on how well they’re doing in school, the less engaged they’ll tend to be with what they’re doing in school.

11.  All learning can be assessedbut the most important kinds of learning are very difficult to measure — and the quality of that learning may diminish if we try to reduce it to numbers.

12.  Standardized tests assess the proficiencies that matter least.  Such tests serve mostly to make unimpressive forms of instruction appear successful.

ABC’s of teaching

Here are some of the ABC’s of teaching – I’m sure I’ll think of more as I go along

A is for analyse- we not only teach analysis but we need to be involved in the process the whole time. We need to ask ourselves – what is going right? what is going wrong? why?

B is behaviour – bad behaviour cannot be treated in a black or white way, rather it is something holistic. There are always reasons why students misbehave and our job is not to act as a shrink, but rather to readjust our lesson, our perspective and how we address the students according to their needs. Bad behaviour is not personal, it just is and we have to come to terms with how to deal with it.

C is cognition- cognitive processes go on in all shapes and forms – how to we release that spark? How do we connect our students to what they are studying?

D is for defining goals- the more a teacher defines what he or she is expecting from the class, the more cooperation he or she will get in return

E is for educator – a teacher is an educator – it’s not a job, it’s a calling.

F is for feeling – a teacher must have a feeling for the class and for the individual students. It’s not dry science here.

G is for gimmicks – a class always need a bit of lightening up here and there, so gimmicks such as games, sending answers via sms, something cute do quieten the class down can all be useful. Just don’t rely on them as a replacement for real teaching.

is for using your HEAD – don’t get emotionally boiled over by manipulations or harrassment – always use your head and avoid knee-jerk reactions.

is for intelligence. Remember ALL of your students are intelligent in one way or another and remind them that intelligence comes in many shapes or forms. There is no such thing as a ‘stupid’ student in my class.

J- is for judgement. There are rules and there is judgement based on a given situation. Don’t ever make yourself come across as unfair to your students. Always work on the assumption that they are doing their best.

K – is for knowledge. Your knowledge as a teacher can only take you so far. Strengthen it, increase it.

L- is for learning strategies. Teach your students the best learning strategies so they can take responsibility for themselves.

N – is for nourishment – don’t expect kids to learn on empty stomachs. It is impossible for them.

O – is for options. A class like having the power to choose. Giving them options in exercises and activities gives them a sense of empowerment.

P- is for peripheral vision – you must have your eyes on the periphery of the classroom ,as well as its center.

Q- is for questioning. Asking key questions which make them question is the best way to give them Y2K skills.revi

R – is for review – try to find time at the end of the class to review all the material you have learned.

S – sleep your brain needs it, so does theirs.

T – testing – not too much, not too little. Where, when and how have to be seriously looked into.

U – understanding. You must understand their needs, they must understand your requirements.

V – verbalize – they may know the answer, but having them say it is a different skill.

W- winning. Your class are all winners and they must understand that. Encourage them in every way, one word of encouragement can go a very long way.

X – try to not to put too many of those red X’s on a page – it’s so discouraging. If a student does really poorly, just have them do the test again.

Y – year. The school year goes by in the blink of an eye, so make it count!

Z- zest for learning. Do whatever you can to give your students a zest for learning!

How to Create a Classroom Auction

I don’t get credit for this one either – but I was dreaming about having a class auction. The full link is here
First, write down 10-30 sentences (pertaining to some subject you have already taught), some written correctly and some written incorrectly. Do this before class.

My name is Bob.
I 14 years old.
I like pizza.
I live Korea.

In class, divide the class into 3-6 teams. The more teams, the more fun! Assign each team a name or let them choose.

Teams should not have more than 4 students on them.

On the board write each team’s name and under that write $1000.

Crazy Team 

Now every team starts with the same amount of money and their goal is to buy the most correct sentences (each correct sentence will get them 1 point) and have the most remaining money left over. If one team has 3 points and $0 and another team has 2 points and $900, the team with 3 points wins.

How to Play:

  1. Write one of your prepared sentences on the board.
  2. Ask if anyone would like to start the bidding for the sentence at $10.
  3. Let the teams out bid each other as they try to buy the sentence.
  4. Once the bidding starts to fizzle out, give the old, “Going once. Going twice. Sold.” routine and that ends that round.
  5. First deduct from the bid winning team the amount of money that they spent on the sentence.
  6. Then ask the class if the sentence that they bought is correct or incorrect.
  7. If the sentence is correct, that team gets 1 point. If the sentence is incorrect, no point is given.

Repeat this until you run out of sentences or everyone runs out of money.

Allow students to bid in easy to say and add increments like $5 or $10. 

Set a minimum and maximum bid per sentence. For example, you must bid at least $10 and if the bidding reaches $500, the bidding stops and the team who bid $500 or over buys the sentence.

If a team runs out of money early in the auction, let them buy some more money from the bank (ie. you) by correcting an incorrect sentence or buy doing some other English feat.

I really like to get into auction mode creating a sort of bidding frenzy by speaking as much like an auctioneer as possible. something like this:

“i got 10 dollars over here do i hear 20, 20 dollars anyone for 20 dollars i got 20 dollars do i hear 30 dollars 30 dollars anyone for 30 dollars 30 dollars for team crazy do i hear 50 dollars …etc… 100 dollars going once. 100 dollars going twice. sold for 100 dollars to the crazy team!”

This is a lot of fun and great for practicing little things like articles, punctuation and tenses.



 This is not mine it was taken from this link.
TBL and PBL: Two learner-centred approaches


Submitted by Sally Trowbridge on 23 July, 2013 – 11:27


Many newly qualified or inexperienced teachers tend to base their lesson planning on the traditional PPP approach (Presentation, Practice, Production) because it is reliable and it is a valid framework around which to base a series of classroom activities.


It is also usually the best way of covering all the lexical areas and grammar points in the course book or syllabus. All good and well. The problem is that PPP serves the teacher’s needs but it is debatable whether or not it fulfills the needs of the learner. 



The language presented and practiced does not take into account the particular needs of each learner; the language content is almost always dictated by the coursebook and/or syllabus. For this reason, many teachers, having experimented with the PPP approach turn to more learner-centred approaches where the needs of the learner are central to the lesson content. Two such approaches are TBL (Task-Based Learning) and PBL (Project-Based Learning).

What is TBL?

In task-based learning, the central focus of the lesson is the task itself, not a grammar point or a lexical area, and the objective is not to ‘learn the structure’ but to ‘complete the task’. Of course, to complete the task successfully students have to use the right language and communicate their ideas. The language, therefore becomes an instrument of communication, whose purpose is to help complete the task successfully. The students can use any language they need to reach their objective. Usually there is no ‘correct answer’ for a task outcome. Students decide on their own way of completing it, using the language they see fit.

Different teachers use TBL in different ways. Some integrate it into the existing syllabus, some use it to replace the syllabus altogether, some use it as an ‘extra’ to their traditional classroom activities. But generally, teachers using a TBL approach divide their task-based classes into three stages:

Stage 1: The pre-task. The teacher introduces the topic and familiarizes students with situations/lexical areas/texts (reading and listening)). This draws the students into the topic and brings up language that may be useful. The teacher then explains what the task is and sets up the activity.

Stage 2: Students perform the task in pairs or groups. They may then present their findings/conclusions to the rest of the class. In this stage, mistakes are not important; the teacher provides support and monitors. The learners focus on communication, perhaps at the expense of accuracy, but this will be dealt with in the next stage.

Stage 3: The teacher works on specific language points which come up in stage 2. (During the monitoring stage, most teachers make notes of common errors and students’ particular learning needs). Students reflect on the language needed to complete the task and how well they did. This is their opportunity to concentrate on accuracy and make sure they resolve any doubts or problems they had.

Tasks can be as simple as putting a list of animals in order from fastest to slowest and then trying to agree with a partner on the correct order. Or it could be something more complicated like a survey to find out which parts of town your classmates live in and how they get to school, ending in visual information presented in the form of pie charts and maps. Or it could be something really complicated like a role-play involving a meeting in the Town Hall of the different people affected by a new shopping centre development and the consequent demolition of a youth centre and old people’s home. Whatever the task, it should always have some kind of completion; and this completion should be central to the class – the language resulting naturally from the task and not the other way round.

The advantage of TBL over more traditional methods is that it allows students to focus on real communication before doing any serious language analysis. It focuses on students’ needs by putting them into authentic communicative situations and allowing them to use all their language resources to deal with them. This draws the learners’ attention to what they know how to do, what they don’t know how to do, and what they only half know. It makes learners aware of their needs and encourages them to take (some of the) responsibility for their own learning. TBL is good for mixed ability classes; a task can be completed successfully by a weaker or stronger student with more or less accuracy in language production. The important thing is that both learners have had the same communicative experience and are now aware of their own individual learning needs.

Another advantage of this approach is that learners are exposed to a wide variety of language and not just grammar. Collocations, lexical phrases and expressions, chunks of language, things that often escape the constraints of the traditional syllabus come up naturally in task-based lessons. But this can also be a disadvantage. One of the criticisms of TBL is this randomness. It doesn’t often fit in with the course book/syllabus, which tends to present language in neat packages. Some teachers (and learners) also find the move away from an explicit language focus difficult and anarchistic. Many teachers  also agree that it is not the best method to use with beginners, since they have very few language resources to draw on to be able to complete meaningful tasks successfully.

What is Project-Based Learning (PBL)

The PBL approach takes learner-centredness to a higher level. It shares many aspects with TBL, but if anything, it is even more ambitious. Whereas TBL makes a task the central focus of a lesson, PBL often makes a task the focus of a whole term or academic year.

Again, as with TBL, different teachers approach project work in different ways. Some use it as the basis for a whole year’s work; others dedicate a certain amount of time alongside the syllabus. Some use projects only on short courses or ‘intensives’. Others try to get their schools to base their whole curriculums on it. But there are generally considered to be four elements which are common to all project-based activities/classes/courses:

1. A central topic from which all the activities derive and which drives the project towards a final objective.

2. Access to means of investigation (the Internet has made this part of project work much easier) to collect, analyse and use information.

3. Plenty of opportunities for sharing ideas, collaborating and communicating. Interaction with other learners is fundamental to PBL.

4. A final product (often produced using new technologies available to us) in the form of posters, presentations, reports, videos, webpages, blogs and so on.

The role of the teacher and the learner in the PBL approach is very similar to the TBL approach. Learners are given freedom to go about solving problems or sharing information in the way they see fit. The teacher’s role is monitor and facilitator, setting up frameworks for communication, providing access to information and helping with language where necessary, and giving students opportunities to produce a final product or presentation. As with TBL, the teacher monitors interaction but doesn’t interrupt, dealing with language problems at another moment.

The advantages and disadvantages of PBL are similar to those of TBL, but the obvious attraction of project-based learning is the motivating element, especially for younger learners. Projects bring real life into the classroom; instead of learning about how plants grow (and all the language that goes with it), you actually grow the plant and see for yourself. It brings facts to life. The American educational theorist John Dewey wrote “education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself”.  Project work allows ‘life itself’ to form part of the classroom and provides hundreds of opportunities for learning. Apart from the fun element, project work involves real life communicative situations, (analyzing, deciding, editing, rejecting, organizing, delegating …) and often involves multi- disciplinary skills which can be brought from other subjects. All in all, it promotes a higher level of thinking than just learning vocabulary and structures.


Both TBL and PBL focus primarily on the achievement of realistic objectives, and then on the language that is needed to achieve those objectives.  They both treat language as an instrument to complete a given objective rather than an isolated grammar point or lexical set to learn and practise. They give plenty of opportunity for communication in authentic contexts and give the learner freedom to use the linguistic resources he/she has, and then reflect on what they learned or need to learn. Finally, as EFL teachers are eclectic by nature, teachers often use a combination of TBL, PBL and traditional techniques such as PPP. Some teachers use TBL and PBL as a small part of a more conventional approach and many teachers on 100% TBL/PBL courses resort to PP type activities when dealing with grammar or vocabulary problems. As always, the important thing is to use what works best for you and your learners.

Katherine Bilsborough