New Holiday Activity

I am having way too much fun uploading worksheets out of 60 Positive Activities for Kids on to our Teachers Pay Teachers Store (Click on Build Positivity to find all the worksheets!) One of the things I’m really enjoying is that it gives me a chance to think deeply about how to use the resources in the classroom. As I was uploading this awesome New Holiday Activity I realized that this could be a one-off creative worksheet as the authors intended. But it could also spark a discussion comparing holiday traditions. You could even use it as the beginning […]

Read More

Plays as the Ideal Group Project

Thunder claps, lightning strikes, and rain begins to fall as Ajax and Magnus approach the bus stop. They are two students: one a model child with good grades, the other a bit of a misfit who doesn’t clean her room or get her homework done on time. But as an ordinary autumn rain turns into a natural disaster, the issue what kind of people we’ll really need in the future is called into question in a new way. This is the setting for Rising Water, a play written by Alice Savage for the ESOL classroom that uses the story […]

Read More

Elements of Effective Instruction and the Art of Mario Brothers

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing with my son lately. I love to draw and I always have, but I don’t think I’m incredibly good at it. A lot of my art in high school was pretty bad. But I think I’ve come a long way in the past couple of years. And so has my son. We love to draw freely, but sometimes we try to copy Pokémon characters from his books or Mario Kart Drivers from the Internet. And sometimes we do a guided video to learn to draw something new. We particularly like Art for […]

Read More

Those Students: Deictic Expressions and Real-World Communication Skills

I’ve been doing a lot of presentations on pragmatics recently and thinking about how to teach students real-world communication skills in English. The problem is that in the classroom we often communicate at a very literal and direct level. Outside the classroom, we don’t! We leave things unsaid, assume knowledge on the part of the listener, even exaggerate or outright lie! We also use idiomatic language, fixed expressions, and deictic expressions, language that take their meaning from context. And maybe the hardest group of deictic expression is “insider expressions” when we talk to people. These are expressions that people […]

Read More

How to do Social-Emotional Learning Prompts for ESL

Sometimes the best classroom activities come out of the simplest things. Case in point, these Social Emotional Learning prompts for ESL students created by Teresa X. Nguyen and illustrated by Tyler Hoang and Nathaniel Cayanan. Each worksheet has a written prompt and an original hand-draw illustration, simple stuff but designed to work for students at any level. These positive activity prompts, many focusing on social-emotional learning (SEL) are so much fun, that I couldn’t sharing some of my own ideas for filling them out, and for ways to implement them in the class room! Links to the worksheets in […]

Read More

Merge Data from Excel to PowerPoint

Looking for an easy way to create a PowerPoint presentation from Excel? This method works great to merge data from Excel to PowerPoint. It’s a simple way to create flashcards, award certificates, project reports, any kind of presentation where you want to create multiple slides with the same kind of information on each. I also talk about using the Master Slide View to create your own PPT themes and formatting. Watch the video to learn how to Merge Data from Excel to PowerPoint Step by Step: Merge Data from Excel to PowerPoint 1. Create an Excel document and create […]

Read More

Scary House Story Starter

I love this story starter by Taylor Sapp. Also called unfinished stories or stories without end, or even story prompts, a story starter is a creative writing prompt in the form of the beginning of a story. Students read and then finish the story! What makes them so great is that they give students a lot of support, more than a traditional one sentence prompt. A story starter creative writing prompt has a setting, characters, the beginning of a plot, maybe even a theme. So there’s a lot to work with. Even reluctant writers or students lacking confidence will […]

Read More

Best of the Year!

I feel like this is the year that we are less looking forward to a new year, as looking forward to saying goodbye to the old year! But there were definitely some highlights of the year. I’m amazed at how so many teachers found ways to survive and even thrive in 2020. It meant adapting to new tools and situations, but we did it. Even if it was a very small success, we managed to pull it off. So below find our top posts of 2020, best-selling books, and our most desirable authors (ok, the authors whose archive pages […]

Read More

Teaching Pragmatics with Memes

I recently discovered these wonderful communication-fail memes, such as the one above. But beyond being peak comedy for linguists, language lovers, teachers, and language students, this meme and others like it point to a really important point: communication happens far beyond grammar and vocabulary. So here are some of my ideas for teaching pragmatics with memes. Cultural rules play a huge role in communication. In the above picture, the flight attendant is asking a question, with most of the question left unsaid. What she means is, “Would you like coffee or tea?” Now the first part of the question […]

Read More

Easy Office Furniture in Minecraft

It’s fun to create modern buildings in Minecraft sometimes. Here are some ideas for office furniture in Minecraft, including easy ways to make computers, desks, printers, bookcases, and file cabinets. You can use them in Minecraft skyscrapers, cities, or even your house! Share your own ideas for office furniture in Minecraft in the comments or even show how you used my ideas here! Chairs An easy way to make a chair is to use a stair. Try different kinds of stairs. Each one looks different. Do you like oak wood stairs or birch wood stairs? They are light colors. […]

Read More

What does “I was, like…” mean?

In the spring, I had the great pleasure of seeing a bit of David Crystal talk at the 2020 Digital Hay Festival. (By the way, if anyone is looking to for a great Christmas present, his latest book looks amazing!) and I was rather pleased to hear him, as a well-known and respected linguist, defend teenspeak/Valley Girl with words such as “like”. In fact, he did a wonderful example of “I was, like,” and do a shocked face. It reminded me of the first 5 seconds of this clip reminded me of the first 10 seconds of this clip […]

Read More
A banner image showing our halloween activities for english class on Teachers Pay Teachers

Halloween Activities for English Class

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. And it’s a great holiday to share with students. Some say it’s too scary or macabre to do Halloween activities in English class but you can always find an aspect of the holiday that isn’t too gruesome. You can talk about trick-or-treating, costumes, or creepy animals such as spiders, bats, or owls. You can tell or write silly ghost stories, instead of scary ones. Of course, you can also go for the scary (I miss my 6th and 7th graders who were all about the gore!). So here are some of our […]

Read More