Recycling Activities: Checking without testing – #eltchinwag Summary – 10/03/2014

A #eltchinwag summary written by Victoria Buckley of Kaplan International English, Dublin.

Victoria is a New Yorker currently teaching with Kaplan International English in Dublin. She did a Masters in Irish Writing at Trinity College and fell in love with Ireland. Victoria adores education, advocates the positive use of Edtech and is currently building her PLN through Twitter, Facebook and any other way she can.

Victoria Buckley

Victoria is a New Yorker currently teaching with Kaplan International English in Dublin. She did a Masters in Irish Writing at Trinity College and fell in love with Ireland. Victoria adores education, advocates the positive use of Edtech and is currently building her PLN through Twitter, Facebook and any other way she can.

Another hot topic has hit the feed of the #eltchinwag Twitter world! As we all know, reinventing the wheel is a great accomplishment, but a challenge nonetheless. Since it’s a challenge we don’t always have time for, what with all the planning and searching for secondary sources, it would behoove us all to recycle the fantastic ideas our amazing colleagues have used once upon a time.

I’m sure hearing the teacher say “Test!” or “Pop Quiz!” is not the fondest memory we have when reminiscing about the golden rule days, but that was their way of making sure we understood the material. However, throwing exams and pop quizzes at ESL students isn’t exactly the best form of assessment. Instead, we assess their knowledge through games and activities in the classroom to promote a more engaging environment.

But what types of activities do our chinwaggers use?


@ChristineMulla kick started the conversation stating that, “body words [are] great fun”. “Group Ss, they take a letter each and compete in guessing game. Obv Ss need to trust each other though,” elaborated ChristineMulla who could not be more correct as trust is a very important element in certain activities.

McLaughlinLou chimed in with a great idea:

“Good option is to get sts involved in the making of cards for revision…they always remember their own designs.”

When asked to clarify, McLaughlinLou tweeted that “one st is the designated vocab notetaker for the lesson and at the end provides list for all sts”. Such a creative idea, which includes and engages students to the fullest while reducing teacher-talking time!

F-U-N in the classroom:       

As teachers, it’s always great to bring some F-U-N to the classroom whilst assessing the students’ knowledge of previously learned vocabulary. Normann2 agrees with the idea of fun in the classrooms as he enthusiastically suggested that we “Get ss to come up with a list of words & it’s charades time!”

McLaughlinLou supports the same idea, revealing that a “ladder race on the board is a good one to get all ages up and moving”.

ELSTAireland continued, “Anagrams work well, countdown game”.

It’s important to remember that although fun and active games are exciting, some activities are not suitable for all learners. Having a variety of activities is essential when reviewing material.

Innov8rEduc8r offered a more intimate review of vocabulary:

“Have sts engage with words using all their senses – must see, hear, feel, touch the words”, suggesting that this activity will have a “deeper recall [as it] stimulates recall, builds connection and resonance to vocabulary”.

He had the last laugh while suggesting a great activity:

“Words that make us laugh just saying them”.

@ChristineMulla added ‘armpit’, making him smile.

Smart boards, Smartphones and Tablets, Oh my!

                        Though the topic at hand was not geared towards technology and whether it’s a friend or foe, tweeters still gave mention to the renowned IWB. MaeBVee, in favor of technology, states, “games such as Hot Seat, Hangman, or Multiple Choice Questions on the IWB are a great way to review vocabulary”. SwanDOS agrees, “Smartboards are great for collecting new vocab in mind-maps with pics attached.”

Of course, the IWB is not the only piece of technology used. @Eilymurphy wondered if anyone has experimented with flashcards on their mobiles, using applications such as “Anki”. @Innov8rEduc8r responded with an affirmative answer in experimentation with “vocab impt”, “tho need to know stages of ELT sts – some may need more contextual support”.

Normann2 continues with the apps topic, revealing that there are free Charades apps for both tablets and phones:

“Smart Baby Apps on iPad, can add own pictures, sounds and categories, memory games.” (@normann2)

It’s Healthy Competition, right?

It’s no surprise that competition brings out the best (and worst) in us. However, it’s still a time when we try our hardest! We focus on nothing other than the goal and the goal here is learning. Students love competition…though that may be an understatement, actually. CelticVegan agrees that you can put students into groups to compete with each other! It was also revealed that McLaughlinLou “[has] given vocab cards at start of lesson and team who uses all in lesson wins a prize!”

Keep It Natural!

It’s interesting to talk about spaceships and aliens, but it’s crucial to keep the topics as down to earth as possible. ELTIreland piggybacked off McLaughlinLou’s idea of handing out vocabulary cards to the students and whoever uses all cards by the end of the lesson wins:

“try to put revision words (5) on table that Ss must use during class – in natural way” (@eilymurphy)

A short conversation emerged between Innov8rEduc8r and LahiffP on the matter of keeping things natural:

Innov8rEduc8r  believes that it is vital to teach investigative skills around the vocabulary being used. LahiffP responded in agreement, suggesting “… students bring in examples of the word in use from the real world, signs, cuttings, leaflets or product packaging.” Innov8rEduc8r cheered on the idea, exclaiming “Real Life is Crucial for Learning. Meaning, Authenticity, Purpose!”

Other Activities and Ideas:

This topic brought forth numerous ideas from our tweeters on reviewing vocabulary in the ESL classroom. As we know, the ideas are endless as many activities piggyback others. Here are some more ideas that were acknowledged in this weeks chat:

  • Get students to form a letter with their body, and then put the students together to create a word, resulting in the other teams guessing the word that was just created. (@ChristineMulla)
  • Pictogram: Get words, cut them up, then have students build the item using the words. (@normann2)
  • All vocabulary terms from the unit are cut up and placed into a bag or hat. Students must pick 4-5 words from the bag/hat and create a story with their partner using their words. (@MaeBVee)
  • Charades / Pictionary (@ESLTAireland)
  • Jeopardy (@normann2)
  • Remove all labels from your classroom and have students replace them. (@Innov8rEduc8r)
  • Labelling the city with photographs (@ChristineMulla)
  • Having a normal conversation, asking casual questions where the students must answer using new vocabulary words. (SwanDOS)
  • Matching: One half of the class are verbs, the other half are prepositions. The object is that the students must find their correct half! (ELTireland)
  • Communicative crosswords (CelticVegan)
  • Odd One Out: Put students in groups of 4 and assign each student a word. As a group, they must decide which word doesn’t fit and why. (MaeBVee)
  • Constant assessment: Try to use vocabulary in the class. When you ask students a question, have them reply by giving examples; spot a synonym in use which allows them to refer back to previously learned word. (ChristineMulla)
  • Simple Ball Games: Synonyms, antonyms, collocations – example sentences. (normann2)
  • Word of the Week: Students pick a word from the previous week and use it as much as possible in conversation. (CelticVegan)
  • Photo Scavenger Hunt (Innov8rEduc8r)

One response to “Recycling Activities: Checking without testing – #eltchinwag Summary – 10/03/2014

  1. Great summary Victoria! Thank you.

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