“‘Twas the Night before Christmas”

Using “’Twas The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore, this explosion book features a series of activities related to different language areas and reading comprehension skills that the students complete as they walk through the poem.

KEY:

2. 1. c 2. f 3. e 4. b 5. a 6. d The children were nestled/ And mamma in her kerchief / …for a long winter’s nap / …there arose such a clatter / I sprang from the bed… / Tore open the shutters

4. 1 – With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
2 – I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
3 – More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
4 – And he whistled, and he shouted, and he called them by name;
5 – “On, DASHER! on, DANCER! on, PRANCER and VIXEN!
6 – On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONNER and BLITZEN!
7 – To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
8 – Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

5. leaves / hurricane / sky / roof / sleigh / toys

6. in a twinkling / turn around / bound / prancing / hoof

7. 1 – He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
2 – And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
3 – A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
4 – And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
5 – His eyes – how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
6 – His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
7 – His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
8 – And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
9 – The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
10 – And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
11 – He had a broad face and a little round belly,
12 – That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

8. a right jolly old elf / I laughed / when I saw him / A wink of his eye / Soon gave me to know / I had nothing to dread

9. He spoke not a word / straight to his work / filled all the stockings / and laying his finger

To assemble the book, follow these instructions:


1. Print the three pages on cardboard paper if possible (although regular paper will do, too!) Cut the three squares.


2. Fold Square 1 (1-4) and Square 3 (7-10) forward, both vertically and horizontally. Then fold the square diagonally outwards, following the line provided.


3. For Square 2 (5-6), the vertical and horizontal lines are folded outwards, and the diagonal line is folded inwards.


4. Place the three squares in the right order. Glue the squares as shown on the worksheet.

Now the students can draw their own book cover with the title!

To correct the activities, you may want to use this version of the poem sung by Noel Paul Stookey from Peter, Paul and Mary:

Enjoy!

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I’m Going Back

“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”

Graphic organisers

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll probably know I’m a huge fan of graphic organisers. These visual displays of ideas, facts or concepts help to organise, clarify or even simplify complex information, ideally improving comprehension and allowing for deeper understanding. They are a great way to encourage active learning, too!

But as a secondary school EFL teacher working in a CLIL programme for several years, I’d say the way in which graphic organisers make content accessible to language learners is their most powerful characteristic. Actually, if I had to choose the one thing every CLIL school needs to focus on for it to work well, that would be the effective use of graphic organisers across all content areas. It is certainly one of the best ways in which we can guarantee that the students learn the concepts being taught despite their proficiency limitations, without the content being watered down. And if the use of graphic organisers is initiated and widely used in the English classroom, then the rest of the areas will automatically benefit from it.

With such a scaffold that is not difficult to use, and which allows students to interact actively with both oral and written texts to demonstrate comprehension, or to make connections, even to plan a presentation or a piece of writing, I’ve always missed it in the course books I’ve used. It’s funny to see the same evaluation activities all over again to check comprehension of the selected texts, and then attempts at incorporating critical thinking skills, communication or creativity on the following page, usually in rather artificial ways.

Graphic organisers can be designed for specific texts and tasks without much preparation, but there are also a series of great resources with ready-to-use organisers that can be used with any type of text. Here are some of my favourite ones:

An excellent collection of editable graphic organisers and templates:

What are the best graphic organizers for promoting critical thinking?

Google Drawings graphics organizers:

Graphic organisers for text structure:

Food waste

1. Write or read the following definition:

“unwanted or unusable material, substances, or by-products”

___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Elicit the word “waste”. Brainstorm different types of waste (electricity, paper, glass, food, wood, water, plastic, metal, chemicals, heat, clothes, etc.)

2. Tell the students you will be focusing on food waste. Why is food waste a problem? Write down a few answers.

3. The students watch a series of short videos with specific ideas or measures to reduce food waste. Each of them has a different focus, from school projects to other types of measures implemented at a national level. The students watch the first three videos and write down the country and/or city where each measure is being implemented and a brief description of the solution that is suggested in each video.

In South Korea, an innovative push to cut back on food waste

Young Singaporeans’ smart answer to the world’s food waste problem.

Insects As A Solution To Food Waste

4. Have the students choose one of these videos based on originality, creativity and usefulness, but also thinking of how feasible it might be to implement the suggested solutions where they live.

5. Repeat the same procedure with the next three videos.

How Rotting Vegetables Make Electricity

Pennsylvania students invent solution to their school’s food waste problem

School Food Waste Solutions

6. After choosing the best idea, have the students discuss which solution they would choose, including its strengths and any weaknesses they can find.

7. Encourage the students to think of specific measures we could try at our school to reduce food waste:
– Which are some of the problems they can identify within the school premises?
– What are some solutions they can put forward to help prevent food waste?
Teams work on a list of solutions and prepare a short presentation to be shared with the whole group.

A fashionable Halloween

Using Gemma Correll’s Ghost Fashions poster as inspiration, within a few days we will be exploring different fashion styles and using them to define unique Halloween characters which will hopefully result in some interesting (and not necessarily spooky!) narrative texts.

1. Share the “Ghost Fashions” poster with the students. Clarify any unknown words or any questions the students may have. Have them choose their favourite fashions and discuss their choices as a whole group.

2. Explain to the students they are going to design a similar poster based on other Halloween characters. Create six teams and give one character to each of them: mummy, monster, witch, warlock, jack-o’-lantern and zombie.

3. The students go over vocabulary related to different fashion styles using this site and this site, together with some picture dictionaries. The idea is for them to revise vocabulary related to fashion and learn new words as they look for inspiration for their own poster. The students choose 16 different fashion styles that they think will help to make their character the most unique.

4. The students take turns drawing their character according to the 16 chosen styles. As they do this, have them discuss briefly what they think each of the characters might be like.

5. Tell the students each team will get one character from each grid and that they will be planning a story with these six characters. Display the posters, have the teams explain the different fashion styles, and use a die to select the characters for each team.

6. Ask the teams to plan a story with the six main characters in mind. Encourage them to use the forest worksheet to plan six scenes and write down or sketch their plan.

7. The students write the story individually or in groups. Simultaneous or roundtable writing could be a good option here, too!

8. Have the students share and compare their stories. If time allows, I may use some of them with my younger students and have them sketch the stories on the forest worksheet as they listen to demonstrate comprehension.

I was thinking of sharing this activity once we’d finished, but then I thought I’d share it now in case some of you want to try it. If you do, it’d be great if you could share some of the posters created by your students!

Greetings from 1980!

A news article published by The Guardian, Greetings from 1980: Dutch postcard finally arrives – 42 years late, is the basis for this activity in which students practise comprehension skills, and both direct and indirect speech.

POSSIBLE ANSWERS:

1. Ludwina Verhoeven told the local broadcaster Omroep Braban that her sister Veronica had sent that card.

2. She said Jan, who is her brother-in-law, had died four years before.

3. She added that her husband, Piet, had left them in February.

4. She explained that was why she thought it was very special to receive that card.

5. “My son has seen local news reports about the card,” Verhoeven said.

6. “I did holiday at Camping Hoeven in 1980,” her sister recalled.

7. “I am not sure why the card was not delivered to me at the time,” she wondered.

8. She confirmed that the address on it was the right one.

9. She went on to say that she still lived there.

10. She also wondered why it had suddenly resurfaced at that time.

11. A spokesperson from the Dutch post office explained that, in the past, when the mail was sorted out manually, cards sometimes got lost.

12. The spokesperson remarked that it could have also been delivered to the wrong address in 1980 and had stayed there until now.

13. “We will be forwarding the card to Verhoeven imminently”, said Camping Hoeven.

14. An employee told the broadcaster that it was in excellent condition.

15. He added that they would probably send it in an envelope.

What if you received a postcard written 40 years ago? Who would have written it? What would the message be? How would you feel about it?

Guest post: Talking about the past

Isabelle Julienne, a reader of this blog, is sharing this game adaptation for students to practise the Past Simple in an engaging, interactive way.

Here are the different games you can play and the procedure for each one of them:

You need a regular deck of cards.

GAME 1: Make up 4 teams, or 4 individual players, and 1 game master. Hand out the “player” sheets and give the deck of cards to the game master. The game master takes out a card, calls out colour and number. All the players check their sheet and the one who has the colour and number reads out the question or statement. The other three players check their sheets to find the corresponding answer or question. Play until the pack of cards has been used.

GAME 2: For this version, keep only hearts and clubs in the deck of cards. Make up 4 teams, or 4 individual players, and 1 game master. Hand out the “player” sheets and give the deck of cards to the game master. The students have to invent questions, using the simple past or any other tense you wish to revise, and write them in the space provided if there is a question mark at the end of the line. The game master takes out a card, calls out colour and number. All the players check their sheet and the one who has the colour and number reads out the question. The other players check their sheets to find who has the same number and colour on the line and must answer the question spontaneously. Play until this pack of cards has been used.

– Isabelle Julienne

Endless stories

The following lesson idea is based on an ‘infinite’ story by Vaskange. The mesmerising way in which he recounts his holidays, through art and feelings, and how these build on one another, seemed too appealing not to use in a lesson.

1. Set the scene by playing the video till 0:02 and asking: “What is this person doing?” Then play it till 0:06: “What is he drawing?”


2. Give out the jumbled sentences in the set of cameras. Tell the students these sentences belong to the rest of the video. The students first complete each sentence with the words provided, changing the form of the words when needed.


3. The students watch the video and put the sentences from each camera in the right order by writing the number. (You may also ask them to guess the order before watching!)

4. Check the students’ immediate personal reactions by discussing the video briefly: “How does the artist feel?”, “What can you tell about this person?” Write down any key words related to feelings and personality that may come up.

5. As a follow-up activity, have the students create a plan for a story that starts “I drew a new story to tell you about my holidays…” This could be an actual holiday they enjoyed, but it could also be imaginary or one they are planning to enjoy in the future (even a walk around Mars will do!) In all cases, encourage the students to plan their filmstrip by thinking of a number of relevant scenes each of which must be closely related to, at least, one feeling. Use the vocabulary shared and/or introduced in 4 to help you brainstorm vocabulary related to feelings, especially those related to happiness and surprise.

6. The students write the different scenes.

7. Can the students create an infinite story similar to Vaskange’s in digital form? (probably not the same technique – a digital storyboard will do, for instance.) Perhaps on paper, and then create a display with the different filmstrips? A brief oral presentation or a gallery walk? QR codes of the digital products with general comprehension questions or a whole-group plenary discussion? How about…?

End product ideas for language projects or tasks

With the gradual implementation of a new education law here in Spain about to start, which includes a competency-based and project-based approach to learning, teaching will revolve around “learning situations” which will typically result in an end product. Nothing we hadn’t been doing in EFL for years, I suppose even more so those of us working in CLIL schools, but it’s now an approach that will be used across the content areas and no matter the type of school you work in.

Whenever I plan a project, I usually start by thinking of the topic first (sometimes following the curriculum itself, sometimes “imposed” by the textbook *sigh*) and an end product that could go with it. It is also true that the final choice is often marked by the interests a particular group of students may have and their specific learning needs. Of course, it is the objectives, and especially the process, that count here, but I think it helps to start with these ideas and build the lesson, task or project around them.

In the document below, I’ve collected a few end product ideas and arranged them in alphabetical order to have a handy reference we can use for inspirational purposes when planning. These are all intended for secondary school students learning English as a foreign language. Some end products are digital in nature, and I believe the rest can all be easily carried out using different types of technology, so I haven’t specified the type of format.

This is a first draft, however, and I’m sure I’m missing loads of ideas. Could you please share any other ideas for end products you’ve tried in the past or you’ve read about? I’ll add them to the document and update it so we can all use it! Please leave a comment below or email me at onthesamepageelt@gmail.com.

Thanks for your help with this!

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UPDATE 3/9/22

Please check the updated document here.