A Quick and Belated Post About Easter

I’ve mentioned before that I live in a minority, Catholic community in Kosovo (the majority of Kosovars are Muslim). I was interested to learn two things regarding Easter in Kosovo:

  1. They dye eggs here. (I was gifted pretty eggs by students and teachers alike.)
  2. They do not have the Easter Bunny. Most of my students had never heard of him (her?). When they asked me if he is real, I said he is as real as Santa Claus. 🙂

Processed with MOLDIV

Another fun fact: Dyed eggs may or may not be hard boiled. I found this out the hard way as I was hiding eggs for my 3rd graders. I dropped one and it splattered on the floor. Oops.

Teaching: 15 Objects

The following is a simple exercise I created for my classes. I have named it “15 Objects” because it uses … 15 objects.

My teaching counterpart really liked this exercise. (I’m always proud when I come up with an idea she especially likes.) What I like about it is that it incorporates kinesthetic learning into the classroom, something I struggle to do. As a primarily visual learner myself, I tend to favor visual exercises.

I also like this exercise because it was easy to create, and free! I just used 15 things I found around the house and yard.

15-objects-classroom-game-kinesthetic-learning

You could use anything for this exercise. I used:

  • A piece of yarn
  • A tissue
  • A bottle cap
  • A post-it note
  • A candy wrapper
  • A Popsicle stick
  • A paper clip
  • A leaf
  • A stick
  • A rock
  • A plastic toothpick
  • A cotton ball
  • A craft googly eye
  • A button
  • A coin

I asked students to come up to the room 5 at a time and take one object from the bag I was holding. Then I asked the student to describe the object. Students answered questions like, What color is it? What shape is it? Is it big or small? Hard or soft? Thick or thin?

The kids had fun. 🙂

TEFL/ESL Activities Using Little or No Resources, V3

I typed the following into a PDF that you can download here: tefl-esl-activities-using-little-to-no-resources-v3

First/Last
Have students write instructions on how to do something, using “first, then, later, next, last …” etc. Examples: How to tie your shoe, how to bake a cake

Introductions
Pass around a roll of toilet paper. Tell students to take as many squares as they want, without telling them why. Once all students have at least one piece, go around the room and have each student tell something about themselves (one fact per each square).

Just a Minute
Write a list of topics, spread across the blackboard. Have students take turns throwing a paper ball at the board. Have them talk for 30 seconds – 1 minute on whatever topic they choose.

Simon Says
Classic. Either the teacher or a student leads, saying “Simon says …” followed by a command (example: touch your head). Students are “out” if they perform a task that wasn’t precluded by “Simon says.”

Take Off/Touchdown
Either the teacher or a student can lead this. Begin with students seated. Give a statement and have students stand if that statement applies to them. Example: “Stand up if you have a sister.” Have students sit back down between each statement.

Number Jump
Write the words and numbers for 1-10 separately on pieces of 8×10 paper. Also include a piece of paper with “start” written on it. Line the papers upon the floor. Have a “jumping contest” to see which student can jump to the highest number. Have students repeat the number each classmate jumps to.

number-jump-tefl-esl-gross-motor-classroom-activity-kids
Number Jump

Rainstorm
(Note: This doesn’t use language, but is a good way to “warm up” the classroom, so I am including it here.)
Have students stand up.
Silently, have them follow along to create a “rainstorm,” using the following actions.
(To begin: Getting louder)
-Rub hands together
-Snap fingers
-Clap hands
-Slap thighs
-Stomp feet
(Now, getting softer)
-Slap thighs
-Clap hands
-Snap fingers
-Rub hands together

You can see TEFL/ESL Activities Using Little to No Resources version 1 and version 2 by clicking on the links.

Lesson Plan: Teaching Emotions

I’ve posted a number of ESL/TEFL activities using little or no resources (you can find those here and here). Recently, I did the following lesson with my English club (which I host twice per week at a local NGO). I liked it so much I thought I would post my whole lesson plan.

I was inspired by something similar on Pinterest, and asked my awesome friend Katie to include some paint chips in a care package she was sending (she did). This lesson plan doesn’t require much else in the way of materials. Here is what I used:

  • Paint chips in yellow, blue, purple, green, red, and gray
  • iPhone + Jam speaker
  • Index Cards
  • Paper

(I used the paint chips to list a range of emotions in English. On one the side of the chip, I listed the main vocabulary word in Albanian.)

paint-chip-teaching-emotions-esl-tefl

Yellow:

  1. Contented
  2. Glad
  3. Delighted
  4. Joyful

Blue:

  1. Unhappy
  2. Blue
  3. Heartbroken
  4. Depressed

Purple:

  1. Uneasy
  2. Tense
  3. Agitated
  4. Anxious

Green:

  1. Envious
  2. Covetous
  3. Jealous
  4. Possessive

Red:

  1. Irritated
  2. Mad
  3. Upset
  4. Furious

Gray:

  1. Dread
  2. Afraid
  3. Frightened
  4. Horrified

The Lesson:

For a warm up, I played the song “Happy” by Pharrell twice, using my iPhone + speaker. First, I asked students just to listen to the song, in order to become familiar with it. After that, I asked students to listen to the song again, and count (using tick marks on a sheet of paper), how many times the word “happy” appeared in the song. (For the record, three of my students counted 28 times, while my other two students had different numbers. The point wasn’t to accurately discover how many times the word was used, but rather to have students practice listening for a specific English word.)

[As a variation to this, you could print the lyrics to the song but delete certain words, and have students listen for/fill in those words.]

Next, I had a discussion with my students about emotions and what they mean. I passed around the paint chips and asked them to copy down the new vocabulary words. ( I had a small group of students. I think this lesson plan could work with a larger group, but you would probably need more copies of the paint chips to pass around.)

Then, I wrote this sentence on the board: “Today I feel _____ because ____.” We went around the circle and each student stated how he/she was feeling, and why.

Next, I asked each student to draw three index cards from the pile I made. Each index card listed a different scenario. Here is what I wrote:

  • Your mom yells at you.
  • You are watching your favorite television show.
  • You got a stain on your favorite shirt.
  • You are playing outside with your friends.
  • You have a big test at school.
  • You broke your arm.
  • You are eating dinner with your family.
  • Your friend got a new iPhone.
  • You lost your dog.
  • Your little sister broke your favorite toy.
  • Your best friend gets a puppy.
  • Your best friend is moving away.
  • Two of your friends go to lunch and don’t invite you.
  • You are lost in Pristina.
  • You are walking alone in the dark.
  • You got into a fight with your best friend.

Students then had to read their scenarios aloud, and identify which emotion(s) they might feel in that situation.

Then, I asked students to write one sentence for each category of emotion, and read them aloud.

We were close to running out of time by this (the group runs for 1 hour), but in the last few minutes of class, I asked students to choose one of the sentences they wrote and draw a picture to illustrate it.

What I like about this lesson plan: 1) It doesn’t require much in the way of material. 2) It incorporates audio learning, visual learning, speaking aloud, critical thinking, creativity, and kinesthetic learning.

I did this lesson with a group of middle and high school students. I think it’s too advanced for younger kids, but there are probably ways to modify it and make it easier.

Creating Teaching Materials

As a visual learner myself, I am drawn to creating visual materials for my classes. (Although I do try to incorporate audio and kinesthetic learning, too.) I wanted to write a post and share some easy-to-make teaching aids, using just a few supplies (paper, scissors, markers/crayons, and tape).

teaching-body-parts
Labeling parts of the body

This summer, my teaching group and I did a lesson on animals, where we created these flashcards.

IMG_3166

A fun game to play is to have students create two lines. Then, students step to the front of the room two-by-two. The teacher holds up a flashcard and the first student to say the correct word wins a point. This game can be adapted to any subject.

For teaching time, I created these flashcards, where students have to match the time to the correct clock.

teaching-time

Some of my younger classes were struggling with learning professions. Using their workbook, I cut out drawings of different professions (since I hate to draw/am bad at it) and taped them to index cards. Then I wrote the names of the professions separately on another set of cards. Students then played a memory game where they had to find and match the correct word/picture. This can also be adapted to any subject.

tefl-flashcards

Last, I created a flashcard set of 30 different pieces of clothing (with each piece colored in three different colors). These can be used in two different ways: 1) Give each student a card, and then ask them to stand up when they hear their clothing piece/color called. For example, “If you are holding the purple hat, stand up.” Or, for smaller classes, you can spread all 30 flashcards on the table, and ask students to gather around. Then, call out a piece/color, and see who can find it the fastest. Example: “Who can find the purple hat?”

clothes-flash-cards

This summer, I worked with my friend and fellow volunteer Chelsea at a 6-day English camp. She created THE CUTEST bear paper dolls (Chelsea loves bears) with little outfits. Students had to dress the bears appropriately, according to the season/weather. (I am trying to convince Chelsea she needs to start a business where she creates a line of bear paper dolls .. we’ll see how that goes. 🙂 )

bear-paper-doll
Created by Chelsea Coombes
bear-paper-dolls
Created by Chelsea Coombes

There are probably countless ways to use flashcards in the classroom, but I wanted to share what I have used and seen used so far. If you are an ESL/TEFL teacher, I hope you found this helpful!

TEFL Activities Using Little to No Resources, V2

(**I compiled the following list into a downloadable PDF file: tefl-activities-requiring-few-to-no-resources-v2)

Telephone
How could I have forgotten telephone on my first list? Classic. If you’re unfamiliar with this game, have your students form a line or circle. The first student thinks of a sentence in English, and then whispers it to the next person (and so on). The last person to hear the sentence has to say it out loud. (And then everyone laughs at how much the sentence has changed.)

Four Corners
This game is adaptable to any lesson plan/vocabulary. Choose four vocabulary words, and write them on four separate pieces of paper. Post one word in each corner of the classroom. Select one student to be “it.” He or she sits in the center of the room with their eyes closed (or blindfolded). The other students disperse to the four corners of the room. The “it” student says, “Everyone in the (vocab word) corner, sit down.” Any students standing in that corner must sit at their desks. The remaining students change corners. The pattern is repeated until only one student is left standing. That person becomes “it” for the next game.

Listening to a Song
I brought my iPod + portable Jam speaker to school to play a song for my students. I had them listen to the song once all the way through. Before the second listening, I wrote a list of words on the board. When the students heard those words during the second listening of the song, they had to raise their hands. (If you have access to a printer, you could print the lyrics and delete certain words. Then, have students fill in those words as they listen to the song.)
Choosing a song can be challenging. Things to take into consideration are appropriate lyrics (obviously), choosing a song students would like (I’d say, stick with pop music), and also finding a song where the lyrics aren’t too fast/can be clearly heard. Here are a few songs I would suggest:
Popular by MIKA and Ariana Grande
Beautiful by Christina Aguilera
Happy by Pharrell Williams

Counting (Warm Up Activity)
Have students stand. Count aloud to ten as you shake your right hand ten times, your left hand ten times, your right foot ten times, and your left foot ten times. Repeat the exercise counting down 9, 8, 7 …

Preposition
Have students come up to the front of the classroom one at a time. Give them an object and let them place it under, beside, between, below (etc.) the desk or a chair. Have the other students use the sentence in a preposition. (Example: “The ball is under the desk.”)

Create a Story
Have each student write a sentence on a piece of paper. Then have students pass papers to their left. Give students thirty seconds to read what their neighbor wrote, and then add a sentence to the story. Then, pass papers to the left and repeat. When the papers complete the circle and the student has their original piece of paper back in front of them, go around the room and have students read their stories aloud.

You can see my first list of resources here.

Teaching, So Far

I’ve been teaching in Kosovo for about two months now.

village-school-in-kosovo
One of my schools … I think it only has about 8 classrooms.

I was a social worker in Chicago prior to moving to Kosovo. For my last job in Chicago, I spent one day per week at a high school, providing counseling to students who had been caught using drugs. Chicago Public Schools are kind of famous for being terrible, but they’re luxurious compared to schools here. Even “poor” public schools in the United States have things like libraries, gymnasiums, computers/televisions/projectors, printers, counselors, and substitute teachers (here, if a teacher is absent, students just sit alone in their classrooms, from what I’ve seen).

I teach in two village schools. In both, there are students without textbooks. Sometimes, they aren’t enough chairs to go around, so students sit on a chair with their friend. The only classroom resources are chalk and a chalkboard.

One of the reasons I am thankful I only teach half-days is that I won’t use the bathrooms at the school. There isn’t soap or toilet paper. Oftentimes, schools have squatty-pottys.

It’s been a challenge, teaching here. Sometimes, I’ll play a song on my iPhone. I’ve brought my laptop in a few times to show video clips to my students. It’s difficult to think of interesting things to do with so few resources on hand (which is why I created this TEFL activity list. I’ll be posting another one soon, so stay tuned).

I’ve started working with a second counterpart, teaching grades 3, 4, and 5. With my regular counterpart, I teach grades 7 and 8. The difference between the younger students and the older ones is noticeable … the younger kids will sprint across the playground to hug me when they see me. They are quiet and engaged in the classroom. The older kids? …Not so much.

image1
Some of my younger students, playing a memory game using flashcards I made. Thanks to my counterpart for taking these photos.