Friday 3 July 2015

Silly, So What? - Online mini-games to practice the basics.

"Interactive Sites for education" is a really cool website, which offers games in many subjects, as shown in the picture below. 

Sometimes a picture is worth a 100 words...and so is a game! Things that take a lot of time explaining become very clear through a game. For example, take this lovely mini-game from the same website, in which a fairy flies and asks the player to capitalize the sentences. she also gives feedback and teaches the rules.

The website contains a lot of games, and although some may seem silly at first, they are fun (tried them with 8th graders) and help the students internalize the rules (of the game...and the language). 

Another website where you can find original language games is The games are divided according to ages and topics. Look at this unique example of a word order game: In the game, Trapped, you have to rescue a bunch of people trapped in a castle, by answering word order questions. The music is intense and the animation is trully inviting. There is also a similar game about punctuation and about nouns and adjectives. 

5.7.15 update:
An extremely cool interactive board game I found. Here is the version for the present simple. The learner has to choose between 3 settings: Pirates, crocodile and space riders. They all present the same questions but in a different setting.
The learners throw the virtual dice and are asked a question. If they don't answer correctly, they are moved back to the previous spot. It's fun.  Under the game, on the web page, you will find the choice of grammar topics. The site itself, eslgames+, has many additional games. 

So play away...

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Mobile & Active learning - Irregular Verbs Practice

Over the last few months I have been teaching the simple past, present perfect and the passive in several classes. I have looked for a way that students will learn and practice the irregular verbs in a fun way. The result is here and you may use it yourselves directly from the provided links. 

Quizlet Learn and Practice (There's a complete post on quizlet here). 

In this public link, the students can learn the words in 4 different learning methods (flash cards, learn, speller and test) and practice using two games: space race and scatter. They don't have to sign up in order to practice

Quizizz mobile quiz - 4 different quizes. 

On Quizizz, every teacher or student can create an online quiz which is quite fun. There are also many public quizizz on many subjects that you can copy, edit or use (watch a youtube guide). 
1. Click on the link to the quiz of your choice. 
2. Click "play".
3. Click "proceed". 
A code to the game will appear on your desktop. 
The students, on their mobile devices or in the computer lab, enter the link and enter the code. 
Each student is tested in his own pace. I gave 30 seconds to each question but you can change it if you register and "duplicate" my quiz. 

The quizizz are:

Saturday 16 May 2015

Time to Practice...Grammar!

What do we usually do with grammar? The students practice in their grammar books and than we check it on the board, or the students check each other's work. There are more options, but I always feel that it's difficult to know that everyone learned and assimilated. 

Recently, I have started using grammar practice websites with my students. After I open the subject and explain the rules, the students practice on the website. They can also practice at home in preparation for a test or a quiz.

How does it work? Very simply, the website contains exercises and corrects the students if they are wrong. The answer is correct if they put the words in the correct form, and also if they used capital letters and punctuation marks where needed.

Not all websites, however, are very good. Here are two that are reliable.  

Important note - In order to send the students directly to the exercise you want, simply copy the URL from the top of the target page and paste it in the forum or the message. 

English Grammar Online - My personal favorite. 

This website is extremely broad and one can practice grammar, writing, reading, vocabulary and more. I will focus on the grammar section. As you can see in the picture below, there are a lot of tenses to learn and practice. 

When you click on a topic, the next page contains an explanation about the use of the tense and links to exercises. The first exercises are each on small sub-topics. They latter ones are mixed practice and even literary texts which contain the specific tense.

The students complete the exercise and click on "check answers". They can see were they did wrong and also an explanation regarding their mistakes. They can try until everything is perfect. 

English -

This website is the work of a German English teacher, Joerg Poehland. It containg a lost of grammar practice, checks the exercises automatically and includes spelling, punctuation and capitalization. 
There are several difficulty levels for each topic; beginner, intermediate and experts. 

Friday 1 May 2015

Mr. Peabody's Apples - A story about the damage than can be caused by spreading rumours

Thanks to my colleagues at school, I bring you this lovely story by no one else than...Madonna. 

This is a touching story about an admired baseball couach, who is seen by one of his players taking an apple from a delimarket. The boy spreads the rumor that the teacher is a thief and soon enough, the whole town believes it. 
Madonna was inspired by a Hassidic story about "Lashon HaRa". The story is educating, interesting and there's a lot of room for work on vocabulary and follow up writing assignments. 


The Narrated story on Youtube,  with the lovely pictures from the book (you can also turn on youtube "subtitles" in English). 

Two versions of the Hassidic story:

"A Pillow Full of Feathers" by Shoshannah Brombacher, who have also painted the lovely painting below.  
"Words as Feathers" by Rebbetzing Malkah.  

Digital Flashcards - What can you do with Quizlet?

Quizlet is a website that gives the students motivation to learn vocabulary - it is simply fun!
On quizlet, student creates sets of words and translations, or words and definitions. It is also possible for the teacher to create the sets for them. 
The sets of words are kept in every student/teacher account and they can practice any time - on the computer or the smartphone app. 
After a set of words is created, here are the practice options:

You can also search sets of words on any subject, save them as your own, edit and share them with your students. 

Another good feature is adding pictures. This is great for your visual learners. You can add a picture to any word and it will be presented on the flashcard. 

I use it for all the vocabulary we have in the textbooks. The kids search the meaning of the words in the glossary of the book, and insert it into the app to create flashcards. It gives them the option to review and practice the words by themselves.

What do you - or the students - do?

1. sign up to the website. 
2. Click on "create a set". 
3. Choose the language for the term and for the definition. Quizlet does not read aloud Hebrew, but it recognizes it and will read aloud the English definition.
4. When you finish, name the set (the students can copy the name from the textbook), and click "create". 
5. Now, a set is ready. the students can use the flashcards, practice with 3 different exercises and 2 games. The teacher can click on the test and print out a test for the students. 

Share a set - I usually ask one of the students to share the set with me. It then appears on my quizlet and of course the student feels great - they love to help :)

English definition - more skilled students can choose both term and definition in English. Quizlet suggest definitions and the students should choose the right one. 

Search - you can browse the many quizlet sets other teacher have prepared according to the subject you are going to teach. Once you find something interesting, you can save it and edit it for your purpose. 

Here are two online tutorials: 
Eva Earnst:

"secondary solutions blog":

My students love it - Try it yourselves! 

Sunday 26 April 2015

Following the Neapl Earthquake - Teaching about Earhquakes and Natural Disasters

If you wish to address the subject of earhquakes and natural disasters, after the horrible disaster that happened in Nepal on April 25th, I suggest the use of "Tales of Disasters" Kit of videos and assignments. The videos and materials were created by "No Strings International" and there are many more interesting materials on their website. 

These are illusrative videos that use muppets to teach kids who live in disaster areas, what to do when something of this sort happens. The English used is not very easy, but the kids can understand the occurence from watching. It is of course good to accompany the video with guided questions. 

The videos are about the amiable villagers of a village called "Desouana Balu". 

For example, here is the video of an earthquake:

the booklet is for all 5 videos, about floods, earthquakes, landslides, tsunami and volcanos. 

Links to the rest of the videos:

Friday 24 April 2015

Brainstorming using web tools.

Brainstormers and Ice-breakers

We often open our lesson with a brainstorming question.

The advantages of brainstorming, according to the website ehow, are:
1. Creative Thinking Is Encouraged - students can think "out of the box" and hear new ideas from their peers. 
2. Most ideas are accepted - when students see their ideas on the board, they are empowered. 
3. Everyone is part of the team - brainstorming isn't about who knows best, who studied at home or who understands the material. There is a chance for everyone
4. It's exciting and easy - from my experience, students love the chance of parcipating, having an influence over the lesson and comment on what their peers are saying. 

Even with these advantages, there are many students who don't participate in brainstorming activities, who like to be quiet and listen and don't contribute. On the other hand, there are students who use this activity to say whatever comes to their mind without thinking first. 

There are several digital tools that help make brainstorming more engaging for all students, well constructed and very visual. I bring a few examples here.  
The students can participate in the activity with mobile devices, computers or tablets, but it is advised to use a projector connected to the teacher's device. 

Answer Garden - plant a question, grow answers.

A very easy to use tool, no need to sign up! 
1. Prior or during a lesson, enter the site
2. Click the + button at the upper right section of the page. 
 3. At the "topic", write a question that the students will answer in one or two words (see example).

a. Choose "brainstorm" mode if you want to allow identical answers to be submitted.
b. Choose "classroom" mode if you want to allow only individual new questions. 
c. Choose "moderator" mode if you want to approve each entry before it is published. 
d. Choose "lock" mode if you want to lock the garden to any new submissions. 
5. Answer length - you can choose 20 or 40 characters. It is usually best to instruct one or two word answer at the most. 
6. Admin password and reminder email - only if you register, which isn't a must. 
7. Broadcast - The garden can "last" from one hour to a week. 
8. Create - When you Click 'create', you are transferred to the primary page, which your students also view. This is the page you want to share with them, to have them answer the question. 


In order to share your garden with the students, copy the URL from the URL bar and paste it in your forum/email/any messaging tool you use. 

Lino-it - a virtual canvas for sticky notes and web content. 
Lino-it is a sticky notes' virtual canvas that can help us do collaborative brainstorming and thoughts sharing in the classroom. The teacher creates the canvas and sends the link to the students. She adds a question on the canvas or asks the question in class. The children enter the website and post their thoughts, pictures and videos. all according to what the teacher asked. 
Bare in mind that it is essential to give some ground rules before any cooperative activity: the use of clean language and staying on-task are essential. This is a part of the important educational value that comes with such assignments. Our students must learn how to behave in virtual environments. 
- During the teaching the subject of "Natural Disasters", I invited my students to find volcano eruption videos on youtube and share them on the canvas. They had to write the place, date and 2 more details about the eruption, so they also used the dictionary and had to dig dip in youtube in order to find a suitable video (some videos were without any details so they couldn't use them). When all was ready, we watched the videos and the children were enthusiastic to share what they learned. 
- When teaching nouns, adjectives or any other grammatical subject, you can ask the students to share a picture of a noun and it's name. they can also add a sentence with this noun.
How to create a Lino-it canvas for your students:

1. Go to the website linoit
2. Click on "Sign Up" - you may use your gmail/facebook account so that you won't have to remember a new password. There is an option to do this without signing up, but as a teacher you need control over the canvas. 

3. After the registration, you arrive to a page with all your previous canvases and the option to create a new one. Click on "create a new Canvas"

4. Name your new canvas (see picture below).
5. Choose a background - use the ones offered or upload your own in the option "upload an image".
6. Tick the option "everyone may post stickies" so that your students will be able to use it - you can change it later, after the assignment is done. 
7. Tick the option - allow guests to post stickies, from the reason. 
8. Click "create canvas". 

9. Your new canvas is ready! Look at the right bottom side of the page. there is a picture of a tablet. It shows you that the size of the canvas is larger than the size of the screen - students can simply post stickies on all the canvas and you can reach it with the mouse. 

10. On the right upper corner is the option to share stickies and web content. Click on a sticky note, write inside and click "post". 
11. If you want to share a video, music or picture, click on their symbol and upload them from your computer. 

Important - only the teacher can change stickies locations, so you shoud refresh your page and move stickies so that the students won't put stickies on top of one another. This problem does not exist in the next tool, padlet. 

Sharing the canvas with your students
In order to share the canvas, copy the url from the url bar and paste it in a message to your students. 

Padlet - another canvas with great features. 

Padlet is very similar to Linoit, but it requires less work from the teacher - you don't have to move stickies from one place to another, they can be automatically arranged. 
How to create a Padlet canvas:
1. Go into Padlet.comClick on "sign up". Sign up with your google or facebook account, or create an account with a new username and password. 

3. Click on: "yes, I'm a techer". 

4. On the dashboard, you will see your previous padlets and the option to create a new one. Click it. 

5. On the right side of your canvas, click on "settings". 
costumize the wallpaper, layout and privacy (see pictures with prefferable choices below). 

6. Now, choose "share", copy the link from the bottom (where it sayse Mobilize) and share it with your students. 

Thursday 23 April 2015

Recommended Websites

On this page I will put links to recommended English learning websites, with a very short explanation about them. This is meant for fast browsing and finding a suitable website for your upcoming lesson. You are most welcome to offer more websites to the list!

BBC Learning English - a website with lots of activities, stories, assignments and full courses for learners of English, from lower intermediate and up.

British Council kids - a wonderful website with lots of online activities in all areas: writing, speaking, listening, reading, grammar and more. There are also games and videos.  There's also a good facebook page

British Council Teens - A very good website with many resources for JH and HS. You can choose practicing reading, listening and writing. there are online activities as well as pdf worksheets. You can use the videos with the explanations of new words and more.

BusyTeacher - free printable worksheets for all ages and posters you can put on the classroom wall. All very pleasant to the eye. You have to sign up but it's free. 

ISL Collective - A great websites for handouts and games, contributed by teachers. You have to sign up but it's free. 

NewsInLevels - a website with news articles in three different levels. It is updated almost every day. Some of the articles are on video as well. 

EFL Classroom 2.0 - A rich website with many resources which encourages the use of technology in the classroom. Access is granted with a one time payment of 29$. I haven't used it myself but if was recommended by Ruth Sheffer - thank you. 

Texting Abbreviations - A Whatsapp Lesson!

This lesson was initialized as a very long ice-breaker to the subjects of digital communication. My 9th grade students were glad to discover that the text book connections (ECB publish house), presented them with texting abbreviations. They thought it was very cool.

My purpose was to open the subject with a real experience of texting, together with challenging the students in composing and writing a dialogue.

Preparation: I asked one of the students to open a Whatsapp group for the class. As I entered the lesson, I made it clear that anyone who will insert irrelevant comments will be deleted from the group. It is important to note that the activity can be done in a forum of any kind, but since we are dealing with text messaging, I wanted it to be as real as possible.

1. I asked the students what abbreviations they use in Hebrew when they text and they gave me a few examples.
2. I asked the students to take their phone (at least one per table) and I sent them a few samples found on the web:

3. the students read from each pictures in "role plays".
4. I sent the link to "texting abbreviations" website to the students and gave them the following assignment:

With a partner, make up two characters. Try to find something interesing. It could even be an astornaout and a Macdonalds' worker, the sun and the moon etc.
Compose a dialogue between the two characters, with at least 8-10 sentences. Use as much texting abbreviations as possible.
In your notebook, write the abbreviated version and the regular English version.
Copy the abbreviated version and send it to the group on whatsapp.

The students enjoyed and were very occupied. They had to find the appropriate words for their story, match suitable abbreviations and sometimes change the words in order to find abbreviations. Here is some of their early work: can you understand? :)

Two Girls Talking

Whats up girl, what are you doing? 
Great, thank you, what about you? 
I will see you tonight. It is going to be great. 
It's a date!
I'll be there. 
By the way, please call me later. 
Ok, be seeing you. 

A Birthday Party

Whats up? Tomorrow in the weekend I celebrate my birthday party. Will you be there? Please call me.
I don't know. I'll see it over and write back.
Thank you.
By the way, can I bring my boyfriend?
As far as I know you didn't have a boyfriend.
Dan is my boyfriend.
Laugh out loud! Dan is my boyfriend and by the way you are not invited to my birthday party.

Break up over the phone...

 Sahar, I need to tell you something...if you see (this message) please call me.
why? whats up?
I don't know how to tell you.
Please tell me.
I want to break up.
But why?
I will talk to you tomorrow. I got to go.

A daughter is using her texting abbreviations to mislead her father to grant her permission for a date. 
Whats up dad? Tonight I have a date. I will be late. Is it ok?
I'm ok, It's ok you can go. How are you?
I feel great. Thank you. see you later.
Wait a second, with who are you doing your homework?
With no one.
Speak English!!!
See you, Got to go....