Get Students Writing and Talking!

As more and more teachers are turning to online teaching and distance learning for the forseeable future, and students may be considering self-study options, I’d like to introduce our free prompt generating tool, English Prompts, with three different kinds of prompts: creative writing, speaking, and role-plays. The first, Stories Without End, generates a random short story prompt that ends on a cliff-hanger. The genres vary from horror to comedy to sci-fi to realistic fiction, so there’s a broad range of topics. Don’t like the story? Click “New Story”! Here are some ideas to use it with students: Have students […]

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Activities for Thanksgiving

There are a lot of reasons to teach about Thanksgiving and do some activities for Thanksgiving in the classroom. First, Thanksgiving is a major American holiday* and students living in the US should know about it. Second, it’s a great excuse to talk about important themes such as gratitude and family. For lower level students, you can always talk about food! Third, even EFL students with little exposure to American culture have probably heard of Thanksgiving. So it’s never a bad idea to share about the holiday. So we’ve collected some activities on Teachers Pay Teachers that are perfect […]

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Stories Without End in the Classroom

I was recently uploading more individual stories without end (from Taylor’s wonderful book) to Teachers Pay Teachers. One of the pieces of information you need to fill out there is how long the material will take to use. Well, the stories are designed to be adaptable so they can be used in one class period, or stretched out over several periods. There are a lot of ways to use Stories Without End in the classroom. Obviously timing depends on the length of the story as well as the level of your learners, and how fast they read. In addition, […]

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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 […]

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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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Positive Psychology: More Than Just Fun and Games!

This was a nice post about from Patrice Palmer about 60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom, one of our books that promotes positive psychology in the classroom. As Patrice writes below, research suggests many benefits to building positive emotions in the classroom 60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom by Teresa X. Nguyen and Nathaniel Cayanan is a fun-filled resource with activities that can easily be used as fillers, enders or energizers. I wanted to review this book because I’m a huge fan and student of positive psychology.  Although the book does not explicitly mention the science of this fastest […]

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Prewriting Activities for Young Learners and Lower Level Students

Prewriting is really just a fancy way of saying planning to write. For many writers, it includes brainstorming and outlining. But prewriting activities for young learners, or students with lower proficiency in English, need to be designed carefully. Even something as simple as brainstorming may be hard because they don’t have a lot of vocabulary around a topic. And outlining can be equally intimidating. Now graphic organizers can be helpful, but how do you explain a graphic organizer to a student with low levels of English? That’s one reason I really like Teresa X. Nguyen‘s books of illustrated creative […]

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Genre Switching for Better Writing

I belong to a Facebook group for self-published fiction authors many of whom routinely make thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a month. The key to their success? Pick a genre that readers like, read as many examples of it as you can, and then write to that genre. While some might dismiss this approach as putting formula over art, their ability to sell does highlight the importance of genre to readers. When we read a detective novel, we expect certain things to happen. In a horror novel, there are certain things characters will never do or say. […]

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Ways to Make Me Laugh

Humor can be a powerful tool in the classroom. As I’ve written elsewhere before,  Humor plays a large role in my teaching. I use jokes to lighten the mood and make learning fun. I use self-deprecating humor so that students feel comfortable challenging me and so that they understand that mistakes aren’t the end of the world. I use humorous stories to establish rapport. And I make silly skits and demonstrations of words or grammar points so that students will remember them. But humor is also different from culture to culture and from person to person. And while they […]

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How to Engage Reluctant Writers

There was a recent piece in The Atlantic about a teacher who helped her students who get over their fear that they couldn’t write well or that writing wasn’t for them. How did she engage reluctant writers? By forcing them to write a lot. Once they had built a portfolio of writing, they couldn’t say they weren’t writers. They clearly did know how to write because they had written a lot. Beyond that, this teacher engaged with her students, less as students and more as writers. If you focus too much on correcting, you end up marking up all […]

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