Survival Tips for Teaching Kids English: 40+ Resources #GAETC13

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 10.52.05 AMFrom the What Works for Language Learners Category

“For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.” ― John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things

This week I am in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia, presenting at the GAETC conference. It is one of the most organized and interesting conferences I’ve been to and they’ve had some incredible presenters/keynotes.

I had six sessions which you can read about here, Here are the resources for the Survival Tips for Teaching Kids English session in case you missed it. At GAETC, I tried collaborative note-taking with the 400 audience. We all took notes on one Google Doc. Scary, I know! However, it ended up being a great experience and many helped create notes and stories. Check out the document here, Thank you to Jennifer Burke @jdkburke, Paige Odell @odie2teach, Amy Pietrowski @amylpie, and others who helped with the collaborative note-taking experience.


Download these slides!

Some of the Survival Tips

  1. Channel in your inner child! Have the ability to act silly! I often dress-up when reading books, play charades, make silly voices and faces, and sing and dance!
  2. Wear the right gear! Don’t dress to impress! Dress for a mess!
  3. Use a variety of techniques to animate readings.
  4. Children love to play pretend games!
  5. Have lively music that is easy for the children to understand and that you will enjoy singing very loudly to!
  6. TPR- Total physical response is a must for every lesson. Find out more by reading this post.
  7. Puppets are great for children, especially when you incorporate the puppet in every lesson.
  8. Play board games, physical games, and online games- We play Twister, bingo,English Raven’s games, and more!
  9. Include stories from great children’s authors and make the reading time fun. Check out my class wiki for various books and the themes they support.
  10. Use colorful flashcards and play games with the flash cards.
  11. Color with a purpose! Give children a task to see if they can follow directions, such as telling a child to draw a circle and color it yellow. Without direction, I’ve had children color on the wall and on me!
  12. Build your survival kit. Add masking tape, a ball, playdoh, a timer, etc.
  13. Incorporate drama activities such as mime and improvisation games.
  14. Felt boards are great for having children piece together what happened in a story or to learn new vocabulary.
  15. Finger plays like the Itsy Bitsy Spider work wonders. Read this post on how todigitalize your finger plays using Blabberize.
  16. Trust kids with technology! My five year-old students complete online activities each week which I put in a wiki. Kids love technology and will repeat what they learn.
  17. Explore the outdoors.
  18. Use realia- My students play Bingo with pennies from the USA. Introduce real world objects to students from an English speaking culture. Play Show-and-Tell!
  19. When all else fails, have fun!

More Resources

These are more resources to help you teach young learners.

My Slide Presentations

A list of YL blogs and Sites


Use one of these resources or ideas and share with me how the experience went with your learners.

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Why the PopuLLar Project is Popular with Teens

What’s great about the PopuLLar project and how can you and your students get involved?

It’s a project that is ‘Owned’ by the students who work autonomously and collaboratively; teachers are facilitators and guides to the project process.

It uses the students own love of music as the motivator and we know teenagers love their music. Their music is personal and an important part of their lives. Teenagers are overwhelmingly engaged with music, 92% of 14-17 year olds own an Smartphone or MP3 player and they listen to an average of nearly 2.5 hours of music per day. We also know that there is a huge need to motivate secondary school students, in particular, to learn languages, focus digital competencies and be creative.

What do the teachers involved do?

Well actually the teachers do very little. They introduce the project to the students, stand back and let them run, and run they do. They can ask teachers for help, if they want, and you can help them with facilities to record and edit.

What do students do?

The project asks students to write their own lyrics to songs of their choice. They then translate their songs in to the target language they are learning; this will require adaptation to the music of the chosen song. The students then record their song (audio or video) and share it with other students all over Europe. The receiving students then have to comprehend the songs and translate into their native language and record their version for sharing.

The first groups of students in Czech, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the UK have completed their videos with incredible results, see the 2 examples: The kids have thrown teachers out of the project and are learning autonomously.

PopuLLar-Piloting in Brno, Czech Republic

PopuLLar – Buongiorno Principessa – Piloting in Spain English

Each participating school will have a page on the project wiki to share their videos and to choose other videos to work on

All the resources to use the project are freely available in 6 languages on the project website It is best to start by showing the students the step by step guide

PopuLLar,, is a European Union, funded, education project designed to harness music, the primary social interest of secondary school students, in to their language learning.


Statistical evidence (Source University of Hertfordshire’s Music and Entertainment Industries Research Group Summer 2009)

The most important entertainment type for 14 – 17 – 90% music
The size of the average digital collection is 8,000 tracks = 17 days
Average of 1,800 tracks on a pocket MP3 player or phone.
92% of 14-17 year olds own an MP3 player

Teenagers listen to an average of nearly 2.5 hours of music per day.
(Source: The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine)

Note: Thanks to Joel Josephson for letting me know about this project!

Involve your learners in this project and have them record their first music video.

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The Teacher’s Survival Kit for Lesson Planning! Tips & 1000s of Free Lesson Plans

Goal 16: Plan An Engaging Lesson of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators

 I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. – Socrates

Lesson planning is stressful and time-consuming, but is important in giving us an action plan for the entire school year. The way we design our curriculums and the activities we use will determine how successful our learners will be in grasping new knowledge. Lesson design and planning is important. We have our often mandated objectives as the seeds of our curriculum. They act as the vision, goals, and foundation. From the objectives, spring forth activities and ideas. They are the roots of our curriculum. Within the garden of learning is the students’ gained knowledge put into use. We can have very colorful and robust gardens of learning if we plan lessons and activities that support creativity, hands-on and real-world learning. At the same time, I realize that many of us have to ensure students pass tests and achieve learning objectives. The design of our lessons can help us achieve both. However, I realize that many of us lack the time in designing lessons to meet every objective. Luckily, I’ve been connected to 1000s of great educators on social media for the last 3 years and have found various free lesson plans. The idea is we can use some of these great ideas then we will also have the time to design other lessons with enthusiasm versus being burnt out trying to design fantastic lessons for each class. I hope you will find the following tips and resources valuable in the forthcoming school year!  The majority of these lesson plans have a focus on teaching language learners because that is my subject area but many of the resources also have lesson plans for various subjects. Tweak to match the needs of your students. Watch the recording of my recent webinar on this topic here!

A Few Tips …

When planning a lesson, I think we need to keep objectives in mind but there are other factors that make up a great lesson. Anthony Gaughin conducted a fantastic webinar on this topic that you can access here. He talks about a GREAT lesson having these elements:

G- group dynamic

R- relevance to learners’ lives and needs

E-emergent language and ideas focus

A- attentiveness

T- thoughtfulness

To this list I would add flexibility. We need to leave room in our lessons for our students to take the learning where it needs to go. Access his slide presentation here to discover more! We can use Anthony’s thoughts as a basis for designing lessons that engage students.


Some of us will need a framework from which to build our lessons. Some of us need more structure, while others can map out our ideas. As an experienced teacher, I prefer less framework and I like to map out my lesson. The problem with relying too much on a structured lesson is that it leaves no room for flexibility. However, I could appreciate learning to structure lessons and design them to a tee in order to build confidence and learn what I should prepare for mentally.

Structured Templates:

Another idea:

Map our your lesson plan in a mindmap

More Lesson Planning Tips:

1000s of Free Lesson Plans

Here are a few places to find free lesson plans to teach English in any subject or to any age level! You can also access these in my PearlTree of Bookmarked Sites. The PearlTree will be updated regularly as I come across more lesson plan databases.

Lesson Plan Sites for Other Subject Areas

Bookmarked Resources

Lesson Plan Resources ELT and Teach Meet International Online 2012 in Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)
Every Friday I conduct a Free Webinar thanks to American TESOL. Please check the Livebinder for times, video archives, and more.

The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators

As part of The 30 Goals Challenge I would like to inspire you to accomplish these goals:

Short-term- Design at least one lesson plan differently than you have in the past. Incorporate Anthony’s ideas and don’t spend tons of time planning. Instead, focus on jotting your ideas down in a mindmap or in a way that leaves room for your students to take the learning where they want to go. Eventually, you’ll get used to not planning every minute of your lesson and you will find you have much more free time!

Long-term- Make it a habit to map out lessons versus spending tons of time on the template and details of the lesson. Reflect on how implementing these changes helps you grow as an educator. Also, note the impact on your students.

Important News

  • Lisa Dabbs and I have decided to change the hashtag to #30GoalsEdu.
  • This year we are focusing on 1 to 2 goals a week in order to have time to really reflect on the tasks and respond to each other’s posts and enhance our support system for each other.
  • Check out my Pinterests for other posts with this goal or ask me to add yours!

Did you reflect on this goal? Please leave a comment that you accomplished this goal by either posting your own video reflection on Youtube, using the hashtag #30GoalsEDU, posting on the 30 Goals Facebook group, adding a post to the GooglePlus page, or adding a comment below!

Be inspired with these Inspirational songs, videos, quotes, and more on my Pinterest board, Inspiration for World Changers!


Try any of these lesson plans this year and tell us how it went.

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10+ Getting to Know You Activities for Teens & Adults

“It is a fact that in the right formation, the lifting power of many wings can achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.” ~ Milton Olson

Many of us are beginning new classes with new learners. The first days of class are very important for helping our students begin to build relationships with their peers. Getting to know you activities are fun and help us ensure we have a semester full of lasting memories. For teenagers, it is a great way of preventing problems, such as bullying and clics as teens find it more difficult to be consistently mean to a friend versus a stranger. For adults, these activities promote a classroom culture of trust and respect. Adults struggle with learning because they aren’t used to making mistakes in front of strangers. When they get to know each other these strangers become friends and they begin to feel more confident making mistakes. For language learning, it is important our learners make mistakes in class so that they can learn from them. Beyond these benefits, these activities will motivate your students to use language related to their real world experiences. In this way, they personalize their learning. Watch the recording of my recent webinar on this topic here!

Getting to Know You Activities

1. Who Am I?

  • Each student tells a favorite food, place of travel, or whatever you choose to have them answer.
  • The students record these answers or write them on a piece of paper. Do not have them add their names.
  • Put all recordings or slips of papers in a bag.
  • Students reach in, grab one, and find the person who submitted the answer.

2. Speed Dating

  • Divide the class into 2 rows and seat them across from each other. One row will stay seated the entire time and the second row will move.
  • Create a scenario such as this one that you will tell your students before the lesson.
  • Scenario for adults: The company is partnering co-workers for a special project. You must figure out who you’d be most compatible with since you’ll work with him/her for the year.
  • Scenario for teens: You will work with partners for an upcoming project. You must figure out who you’d be most compatible with since you’ll work with him/her and you want to have a fun and successful project.
  • Each student is handed a card with everyone’s names and where they can jot down similarities, differences, and more about each person. Prepare these ahead of time.
  • The teacher starts the timer for 1-2 minutes and each student tries to find out as much about the other person by talking.
  • Then they switch to the next person.
  • They must mark down 3 people they’d like to work with and write a short paragraph explaining why.

3. Show and Tell

  • Students divide into small groups of 3 to 5
  • Students choose pictures from their mobile devices
  • They explain the meaning behind the picture

4. Meaningful Mementos

  • Students bring in small objects that are meaningful to them
  • They introduce themselves by explaining how the object represents them
  • You can instruct them the day before to collect 3 to 5 of these objects in a plastic cup to bring to class.
  • The class will sit in a circle and each student takes a turn to take out the object and explain the significance of that object

5. Two Truths and a Lie

  • Divide the class in a circle or have them sit on pillows on the floor.
  • Students tell 2 truths and 1 lie about themselves.
  • The other students guess which is the lie.

6. Old Photos Revisited

  • Students bring in photos from their past
  • They hang them on the board
  • Students write down the name of who they think it is
  • The owner of the photo talks about the memory

7. Bucket Lists

8. Goal Collages/Vision Boards

  • Vision Boards is the term given when working with adults. They write down their visions and goals for achieving success in their lives and work settings.
  • Students write down goals they want to achieve by the end of the year
  • Then students create a poster or online poster of images and inspiring statements that will help them achieve their learning goals
  • These tools are great to make online goal collages or vision boards: ThingLink, Vuvox, Glogster, Webdoc, and Muzy
  • Check out this idea explained here!

9. 3,2,1 Introduction

10. Create a Google Search Story

  • This cool tool allows students to quickly make a video online by using Google search. They can choose Creative Commons music to accompany the video. This short video is posted on Youtube.
  • Students get into pairs, watch their videos, and discuss

11. Create a Museum of Me

  • This cool tool allows students to see beautiful videos of their Facebook activity. Each student must have a Facebook account for this to work.
  • These videos are not published anywhere, but if the student allows it there will be pictures included on their Facebook page. I did a Jing of mine so I would have it for keeps.
  • Students get into pairs, watch their videos, and discuss
  • Many teens and adults regularly visit their Facebook accounts and this activity can be a way to motivate your learners to tie in their social media activity to their learning.
  • This would also be a great way to begin a lesson about digital footprints and how to begin creating positive ones.

12. Getting to Know You Surveys

Bookmarks of Tools

Find many more icebreakers listed here!

Check for examples of tools in my PearlTree of Resources: Digital Storytelling!

Digital storytelling in Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)

Every Friday I conduct a Free Webinar thanks to American TESOL. Please check the Livebinder for times, video archives, and more.


Try any of these ideas with your students this year and tell us how it went.

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Interview: Tyson & Rocco Seburn & the Klingon Scandal

Tyson and Rocco

Tyson Seburn (@seburnt) is an incredibly multi-talented ELT star in our Personal/Passionate Learning Network! In Canada, he stays busy running his own website, CourseTree, managing an industry book distributor, conducting webinars, and teaching in the International Foundation Program at University of Toronto. Avid tweeter and blogger, his current area of interest is purposeful integration of online technology in the classroom. When Brad Patterson challenged us to interview our PLN, I quickly jumped at interviewing Tyson because we share a common bond, parents of doggy kiddos who have their own Facebook page. As the mommy of a social media puggy, Rosco, I understand the challenges Tyson must face as the proud daddy of a mini pincher socialite, Rocco. After our interview, Rosco decided to conduct his own interview with Rocco.

The 5 Standard Questions

For this challenge, each of us asks the following questions:

  • If your students were to label you with 3 adjectives, what might they be?
  • What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
  • If you weren’t a teacher, what might your profession be?
  • What do you find most difficult about the teaching profession?
  • What was the last book/movie you read/saw, and what have you seen/read way too many times?

Pt I Video Interview With Tyson

In this interview be warned that Tyson and Rocco have caused a scandal within the Star Trek community! You’ll have to watch to find out how!

Pt II Video: Rosco’s Interview With Rocco

Find out the secrets of being a socialite dog. Rosco, the pug, gets the dirty scoop! No pun intended ;-)

Other entries in this Blog Challenge:


Interview a member of your PLN! Make sure you ask the same 5 questions then put your own spin to it.

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