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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 […]

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Prosody Practice: Talk Show Activity

Alice Savage, author of the forthcoming The Drama Book, has been doing plays with her students for a while now. But she wanted to know if the prosody practice her students have been doing with plays would transfer to other activities. Her students have been using some of her plays in class. They’ve been focusing in particular on prosody practice (intonation, word stress, rhythm, gesture, and expressions) to express attitude and emotion when they speak. These skills using prosody are essential for effective spoken communication. But they’re only useful if students can use them in other settings. So Alice […]

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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 […]

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What Do They Know About You?

Why do I recommend a Get-to-Know-the-Teacher activity on the first day of class? I remember the first time I was grilled by a new class. I was teaching middle-schoolers in a public school in Kazakhstan and many of them had never seen an American before. I started the class off with a little orientation speech about class expectations and so on. A hand went up. I called on the student who asked, “What’s your favorite NBA team?” I said I wasn’t a big basketball fan, and the class exploded. “I thought you were American. All Americans love basketball.” “We watch […]

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What Are Your Students Worth?

Have you ever thought about what your students are worth? What would you pay them for the work they do on a project? It’s a sort of backwards question, as generally students pay us to learn. I’m asking this question because of a group work evaluation method I learned from Patrice Palmer in her wonderful book, Successful Group Work. Instead of asking students what grade they think they deserve (or how they’d grade their teammates in a group project), ask them: How much would you pay yourself for the work you did? or if you want them to evaluate each other, you […]

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Building Classroom Community Presentation

When I started writing this, I was coming off my high from an awesome TESOL 2018, and apparently it was a pretty good conference, as the first clause of this sentence is all I wrote before saving this to my drafts folder. So here, belatedly, is my presentation on from the TESOL Conference in Chicago on building classroom community. Specifically I talk about the four conditions that go into really building classroom community. For each principle, I’ve also shared a few activities that you can use in your classroom. I’ve posted about this elsewhere but I think the presentation […]

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Teaching students to be honest: the pragmatics of brutal honesty

We’re not making this up. It’s National Honesty Day and we have some ideas for activities for teaching students to be honest. What is National Honesty Day? The concept for the day was simple, ask direct questions without ulterior motives, and expect answers of occasionally brutal honesty. While these situations create difficult relations between people sometimes, it’s the first step on the road to utterly healing wounds and creating clear communication that allows proper understanding.Embed from Getty Images: Jessica Williams from the movie The Incredible Jessica James which features a scene where two people on a blind date decide to […]

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