sabato 19 dicembre 2015

Merry Christmas!

I've been very busy with teaching my lovely students lately and I am looking forward to this Christmas break. Before my well-earned rest, though, I'd like to share with you a few games I prepared for Christmas. Have fun with your students, too!

Game 1
This is a Christmas-sentence guessing game. Basically, one player acts out a sentence about Christmas by miming similar-sounding words and the other players guess the sentence. 

Here you are the cards you can cut out.

Game 2
On each piece of paper there is a word or phrase. Students need to create sentences which make sense.
Christmas sentence scramble 1
Christmas sentence scramble 2

Game 3
Get some candy ready for the winner!
1) Put your marker on the start position.
2) In turns, roll the dice and move your marker.
3) Answer the questions.
4) If you land on a "present" place you must spell a word.
5) The first student to the last place is the CHRISTMAS STAR STUDENT!

*To enlarge the board you can use this website 

Have fun with your students!

sabato 3 ottobre 2015


Emotion helps us screen, organize and prioritize the information that bombards us. 
It influences what information we find salient, relevant, convincing or memorable” 
Bandes&Salerno (2014)

We usually think that the process of learning comes through our brain but which part of it?
Until not long ago the emotional brain was ignored and the emotion itself was considered as a lower level than as a vital, contributing element in the development of critical thinking. 
However, the emotional brain does exist and “suggests that the constant interaction of the experience of emotion, with its simultaneous impact on the body and other parts of the brain, leads to the individual’s interpretation of feelings. The emotional brain is a partner with the cognitive brain in the learning experience”.  (Understanding Emotions in the Classroom  By Claudia Marshall Shelton, Robin Stern)

From these words it is clear that the more we let our learners use their emotions in the classroom, the more they will learn.


From the heart to the mind: teach through feelings and emotions

Accomplishing this goal:
  1. Find a short movie picture (such as trailers, commercials) (,
  2. Focus on the topic of the video (love, beauty, friendship, bullying, sharing, etc.) and create a set of questions to ask your students in order to make them think critically and/or ignite a conversation.
  3. Other possible tasks are:
- Change the ending of the video.
- Subtitle or dub the video.
- Let your students make their own video about the topic.
- Post the video on the social network you use with your class and let your students comment it.
-From a linguistic point of view you can even teacher grammar structures and new vocabulary.
See an example below.

mercoledì 19 agosto 2015

#30Goals Cycle 6 Goal #9: Share Your EdTech Success Story

When I came across Sylvia's goal for educators I was more than excited because I owe my success in teaching mainly to technology. That's why I decided to share with you 6 tech activities which made the process of teaching&learning more fun and effective.

digital treasure hunt

#1 Digital treasure hunt
What your learners need: A camera 
Target language: Prepositions of place
Procedure: Write on the board sentences which include prepositions of place. Students in pairs or in groups need to take photographs of what they read on the board. The team who get the highest number of correct pictures win.

#2 News Report
What your learners need: A camera, a microphone 
Target language: Different verb tenses, any topic
Procedure:  Tips on how to make a video news report

#3 Show'n Tell "Backtoschool"Icebreaker
What your learners need: A digital camera/mobile phone/smartphone
Target language: Past tenses 
show'n tell
Procedure: Learners show pictures they took during their summer  on their devices to their peers and have a discussion of where/when they took the picture, who they were with, etc.

#4 Facebook  picture quizzes
What your learners need: A Facebook profile (website/smartphone app)
Target language: English language exam grammar/vocabulary
Procedure: Use a presentation software to create multiple-choice questions such as the ones they may see in the exam in the form of a picture or cartoon. Share them on Facebook. Your students can reply to them and, after a while (in the evening or the following day), you can post the correct answer.

#5 Educanon video-listening activity
What your learners need: 
Target language: Improving listening skills
Procedure: Sign up the website, upload a video and type the questions, save the bulb and share it with your students. See an example below.
The Poppy Story

#6 QR Code review test
What your learners need: QR code scanner app
Target language: Grammar/Vocabulary review 
Procedure: Use a QR code generator app to create questions and give an answer sheet to your students. Stick up the QR codes around the classroom/school. Learners need to scan the codes and answer the questions on their paper.
I look forward to reading more posts about this goal!

sabato 23 maggio 2015

Teaching for exams? Have fun - A card game to revise

Luckily (or unluckily) it is that time of the year again! Exams!

This year to help my students to revise for their exams I made up a game with a deck of poker cards.

Age: Pre-teens, Teens, Adults
Level: from A2 to B2
What you need: a deck of poker cards/a whiteboard (smart board)

First of all, pre-teach some vocabulary about cards. Show your students the deck of cards and teach them the words suits, hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades, jack, queen, king.

Number of players:
In small classes (up to 8) players will play individually and you can write the questions on the board depending on their weaknesses and strengths.
I played this game with a class of 20 learners and I paired them up. In this case I used a smart board and the questions appeared on it (the cards where arranged in the same sequence as the questions)

Rules of the game:
Each suit corresponds to a language skill or sub-skill.
Revising for the Cambridge KET for Schools
Learners take turns to turn up a card. 
They will answer a question about a language skill or sub-skill according to the suit they get.
If they answer correctly they will get as many points as the number of suits on the card.
If their answer is wrong, other learners have the chance to get half points on the card if they answer correctly.

If learners pick up KING, they will lose 1 point.
If learners pick up QUEEN, they will double the points of the next question.
If learners pick up JACK, they will miss a turn.

Sample questions for the B1 level

My learners had a whale of a time because they had the chance to revise the topics of the exam without getting bored.
If you try this activity out, please let me know!

sabato 28 marzo 2015

The power of mobile apps - No3 FaceGoo Lite (a lesson plan)

I got the idea for this lesson from a TV game show I used to watch a couple of years ago. It was successful with my students because it made a thorny grammatical issue seem funnier and easier.

Learners: Teenagers - Adults
Level: Intermediate
Time: 90 minutes

1) Show the learners the following picture
Speculate about who he might is by using modal verbs of speculation e.g. it might be, it can't be, it must be, etc.

2) I reckon you and your students cannot guess who he is, that's why you need to listen to this man talking about himself.
[I used a text to speech online software to create the tape, click on the link to download it]

By now you know who he is, don't you? Yes, it's Brad Pitt.

3) Hand in the handout above and ask the learners to answer the following questions

4) Tell the learners to underline the verbs in the speech bubbles meanwhile draw on the board a two-column chart.
Ask them in which tenses they are. The answer is: PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE & PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS.

4) Ask students to report the sentences in the right column and then together try to understand why you use whether present perfect simple or past simple.
In my case, I used a smart board and this was the result:

5) It's time to check if your learners have understood the difference.
According to the number of the students you can decide if they will work individually, in pairs or in groups of 3 or 4. In my case they worked in groups of 3.
Each group has a biography of a famous living person but there are 10 missing verbs. They need to fill in the gaps with the right verbs conjugated in the right tenses. Finally, they need to guess who the celeb is.

6) Monitor the learners while they are working and give them tips (e.g. "Do you know when the action happened?") or help them with the vocabulary.

7) Now it's learners' turn! (In class or as homework)
a) Download 1picture of a famous living person.
b) Write a short biography (80-100 words) about him/her using present perfect simple and past simple  (You can use to get some information.)

c) Edit the picture with the mobile app FaceGoo Lite (Free Android/iOS)

d) Record your voice while while you give hints about the mysterious famous person. Remember to use the 3rd person singular. 
e) Students listen to each other's biographies and try to guess who the mysterious celebs are.

I hope you and your students will enjoy this lesson. If you try it out please let me know in the comments ;-)

Larissa and Inspector Z - A challenge

In the previous posts you could read about the mysterious kidnapping of James, you know who kidnapped him and why, but how is the story going to end?

Write the end of the story
1) Use at least 6 phrasal verbs. If the verb is the same even better. ;-)
2) The piece of writing must be about 100-150 words long.
3) It must contain dialogues.
4) Send it to by 18th April 2015.
5) Teachers and students can take part to the challenge working as a class.

The stories will be posted on my FB page and the one with the highest number of likes will be made into comic strips. 

Good luck!


And the winner is... Lucy Morin and her class of intermediate students from "English & Caux" in Normandy, France.
Well done, guys!

venerdì 6 marzo 2015

Larissa and Inspector Z - Phrasal verbs with fun (part 3) COME

Ready for a new episode?
You will find the previous ones here

2) GET

Ask your students to sum up the story so far in pairs.
Give them a list of the phrasal verbs which appeared in the previous episodes. They check the phrasal verbs off when they use them so they can realize how many they remember.

1) What did James find?
2) What did he do?
3) What were Larissa and Inspector Z going to do?


Ask your students to come up with ideas about rescuing someone in pairs or in small groups.

Next week a new episode

giovedì 26 febbraio 2015

Larissa and Inspector Z - Phrasal verbs with fun (part 2)

Last week I created the first episode of the comics series "Larissa and Inspector Z" My students and my followers enjoyed it so much that I decided to continue writing it.

This week the focus in on some phrasal verbs with GET.

How can you use it in class:

 Give your students a copy of this comic strips and ask your students the following questions:
- Where was James?
- Who kidnapped him? Why?
- What did James feel like?


Ask your students what will happen next.
*They can also write their ideas on a board on  so that next week will be able to check who was the nearest to the exact version.

Students create flashcards with the meaning of the new phrasal verbs learnt using (free mobile app, too).

Next week a new episode!

giovedì 19 febbraio 2015

Larissa and Inspector Z - Phrasal verbs with fun

In order to teach my upper-intermediate students some phrasal verbs useful for their Cambridge FCE exam I decided to create a comic series. Larissa and Inspector Z is a comic series which is useful for teaching and learning phrasal verbs in context with fun. I got inspired by the amazing Sylvia Guinan who wrote a post about using storytelling for teaching exam classes.
How can you use it in class:
1) Give your students a copy of this comic strips and ask your students to answer the following questions:
- Why did Larissa visit Inspector Z?
- What happened to James?
- What did Inspector Z find out?

2) In pairs students will try to work out the meaning of the six phrasal verbs. 
Get feedback from students. Write the phrasal verbs on the board with their definition/meaning so that everyone can see them.

3) Students predict what will happen next.

4)Homework: Students write sentences using the TL.

Next week a new episode!

domenica 1 febbraio 2015

The power of free mobile apps - No 2 ThingLink

Here I am with the second post of the series "The power of free mobile apps".

Today I'd like to share with you some activities your students can do by using ThingLink (available on Web, Apple Store and Google Play).

What is ThingLink?

 Choose or take a picture with your phone’s camera and add interactive tags on your image such as YouTube videos, videos from your phone’s camera, twitter handles and text.
You can share your pictures with friends on Facebook, Twitter and Email.
If you sign up on the website as a teacher you can create a class and get email and password for your students to use.

Register your students

You can manage your groups
Grammar - Free practice - beginners/elementary
If you are teaching present continuous students can practise the TL by describing the actions of the people in a picture. 
What I did: My adults students chose a painting they liked and they described it.
See an example here The Luncheon of the Boating Party

Literature -  Biography of a writer (any level)
[Remember you can add videos and links ;-) ]

CAMBRIDGE PET/PET for SCHOOLS - Speaking part 3
During this part the examiner gives you a colour photograph and you have to talk about it for about a minute.
Learners are often reluctant to speak in class especially shy students in large classes. By using ThingLink the learners can record their voice while describing the picture at home. 
What I have been doing: At the end of each class I ask my students to take a picture about the topic we have learnt in that session (e.g. sport, entertainment, the natural world, etc.) and describe it. In this way not only will they pratise their speaking skills for the exam but they will also revise the TL. 
[Remember that your video recording can be up to 30 seconds long so you must split your description in two parts]

If you have more ideas and activities to share I would love to post them here!

lunedì 12 gennaio 2015

The power of free mobile apps - No 1 PicCollage

Dear followers,

Happy New Year! 

I am so glad to be back! I'd like to start this new year with a new series of posts. If you have been following my blog for a while you will certainly know I love teaching by using both tech and daily life objects, that's why I am going to share with you my classroom experiences and ideas about a free mobile apps every month. 

Free mobile app No 1

Description from Itunes

"PicCollage is THE coolest collage-maker in town! Join 80 million people who use PicCollage to combine photos, Youtube videos, funky fonts, sassy stickers and cute cutouts to create the prettiest collages you'll ever see on a mobile device. We have stickers from Maroon 5, Beats Music, Universal Pictures, and LA-based independent designer, Sara M. Lyons. Check out our Contests section and create a visual response instead of just a plain text response. Share with your friends and followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and iMessage. You can also PRINT your collages into greeting cards or postcards to send to your loved ones anywhere in the world!"
Activity 1
Warm-up/Ice-breaker activity - level beginner
Ask learners to take pictures of the things around the classroom or the school they already know and then label them.

Activity 2 
Free practice (homework) - level elementary
After teaching countable & uncountable food nouns I asked my learners to take pictures of food items they had in their house. I asked them to create two different collages: one for countable nouns and the other for uncountable nouns.
This activity gave me the chance to check whether my learners had really understood the difference between countable & uncountable nouns since in their native language the distinction is not the same.
In this example one of my learners took pictures of countable nouns but as you can see there are three items which have uncountable nouns. 
How to give my learner effective feedback?
I shared this picture with all the other students without saying who had taken it. I told them that the collage was about countable nouns but there were three odd ones and they had 3 minutes to find them out. They worked in pairs and then we had collective feedback.

Activity 3 
Exam-oriented activity - Cambridge First for Schools (B2 level) Speaking part 2
From the Cambridge website - "The examiner gives you two photographs and asks you to talk about them. You have to speak for 1 minute without interruption and the interlocutor then asks the other candidate to comment on your photographs for about 30 seconds. The other candidate receives a different set of photographs and you have to listen and comment when they have finished speaking. The question you have to answer about your photographs is written at the top of the page to remind you what you should talk about."

As homework I asked my learners to take two pictures of people who were learning and put them together with PicCollage. When they came to the lesson I printed the pictures out and they swop the photos they had taken and they answered the following question:

What are the advantages of learning in these different ways?

If you have other ideas I will be pleased to add them here!