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Brainstorm

How you do it

Elicit information from learners about a given topic. At lower levels, model and supply a few ideas to get the activity started. At higher levels, allow learners time to generate their ideas. Teacher can record answers on the board or assign a student to do that task. This activity helps to show what the students already know and allows them to contribute to the class. It can also be used for a post assessment.

Good for using as a pre-writing, pre-listening, or pre-reading activity.

Variations

Can be a whole-class activity or learners can be assigned to small groups or pairs.

Information generated from the learners can be sorted, categorized, etc. in follow-up activities. This is also a good way to generate vocabulary words.

Progressive brainstorming - teacher asks students to make a list or respond to a specific prompt.  After students jot down their ideas, teacher asks students to pass their paper to the next group or student. The process is repeated until the paper is returned to it’s owner.  The owner(s) look(s) at all the additions and reflect(s) in an appropriate manner.  Variation: The paper can rotate or the groups can rotate. This can be done in groups, pairs, or individuals  

Pathway skills

Critical Thinking Skills

  • thinks creatively
  • reasons

Resource Management Skills

  • communicating

Working with others

  • respects individual differences
  • contributes to group effort

Categorize

How you do it

At a lower level the teacher assigns categories and helps learners sort and put data into those categories. At higher levels, students can be instructed to create their own categories. Students can first brainstorm many ideas around a topic or problem using post it notes. Then, they can group them together into categories. Categorizing helps students understand the data in a more academic way.

First model how to sort with something very familiar such as clothing that can be sorted by color, gender, formal/informal, what season/weather you would wear it, etc.

Variations

Categorize visuals: Students sort pictures or realia into relevant groups.

Get pictures from magazines, sales fliers, catalogs, and/or the internet.

Pathway skills

Critical Thinking Skills

  • thinks creatively
  • reasons

Resource Management Skills

  • organizing
  • analyzing

Cloze Activity

How you do it

Teacher gives students a text with missing words (classic cloze activity has every seventh word missing) and students insert missing words into the text.  This activity is often used for vocabulary and grammar teaching.

Variations

At lower levels, students often draw from a word bank or have very few words to insert. Sometimes, only letters are missing.

Pathway skills

Literacy Skills

  • Predict information

Compare/Compare and Contrast

How you do it

Teacher provides a framework or way to organize data so that students learn about a concept by comparing (and / or contrasting) it to something else. This activity is often done with the scaffold of a graphic organizer.

Variations

Pathway skills

Critical Thinking Skills

  • thinks creatively
  • reasons

Debate

How you do it

Teacher gives students topics to debate conflicting points of view. Students research and organize different sides of an argument and present and defend their positions.

Variations

At higher levels the students can take charge of the debate process. At lower levels the teacher needs to scaffold the process.

This can be done in two groups, with each group presenting a different side. Another option is to form two groups to discuss and prepare for the debate. In the prep group, students will discuss what their position is, brainstorm what to say to defend their position, and guess what arguments the other side will bring so they will be prepared. Then in pairs, one from each group debates.

Lower levels may compare and contrast two sides of a topic.

Pathway skills

Critical thinking Skills

  • Thinks creatively
  • strategic Thinking
  • Reasons

Working with others

  • respect individual differences
  • communication

Dialogue

How you do it

Students practice a scripted dialogue. Repeated practice can be achieved through a variety of steps, gradually moving students towards using the dialogue independently:

  • Have students close their eyes and listen while the teacher reads the dialogue.
  • Follow along as the teacher reads it.
  • Listen and repeat line by line.
  • Then teacher takes role A, all the students take role B. switch roles
  • Then half the class is A, the other half is B, switch roles
  • Then all the females are A, males are B.
  • Then students practice in pairs.
Variations

Rather than using a published dialogue, learners can generate a dialogue at their own level using pictures and gestures.

  1. Teacher chooses a situation relevant to the topic being studied and defines the roles involved.
  2. Instead of presenting a prepared dialogue, the teacher uses pictures and gestures to elicit the dialogue from the class. The teacher accepts all suggestions from the learners and encourages them to work together to provide the correct target language. Teacher takes one role, and the class takes the other role to elicit the entire dialogue.
  3. Repeat the dialogue with each half of the class taking on one of the roles.
  4. Provide handouts of the pictures for pair work with the dialogue.

Ways to vary for difficulty:

  • follow up with substitution exercises.
  • have learners write out the dialogue.
  • discuss alternative ways to say the same thing.
Pathway skills

Working with others

  • Teamwork
  • Works well with others
  • Contributes to group effort
  • communication
  • communicates verbally
  • listens actively

Discussion

How you do it

Teacher presents a topic to be discussed openly by the whole class. This topic can be general or specific. Usually some pre-work can be done to bring out vocabulary and context.

Variations

Small groups: learners discuss a topic together, notes are taken, and then they share their conclusions with the rest of the class.

In small groups, each learner could have a role, e.g. leader, recorder, timekeeper, etc.

Pathway skills

Working with others

  • Respects individual differences
  • Negotiates
  • Teamwork
  • Contributes to group effort
  • Works well with others
  • Exercises leadership
  • Communication
  • communicates verbally
  • listens actively

Field Trip

How you do it

Field trips involve visiting locations to bring classroom learning to life. Examples of field trips could include libraries, Skill Source Center, or the local hospital.

Teachers need to prepare the students for the trips so that they have a learning purpose.  This includes giving them background context, vocabulary, things to look for, etc. Afterwards you need to continue the learning by drawing on the field trip experience. Be sure to take pictures, or have students take pictures to use in follow-up lessons.

Variations

At higher levels you could ask for a person at the location to be the ‘tour guide.’ At lower levels you could try to find a translator or ESL friendly tour guide.

‘Field Trips’ can also be virtual or on site- walking around the building or neighborhood if possible/relevant.

Pathway skills

Working with others

  • Teamwork
  • Contributes to group effort
  • Works well with others
  • Communication
  • communicates verbally
  • listens actively
  • observes carefully
  • matches non-verbal cues to verbal messages
  • interprets non-verbal cues

Fill out a Form

How you do it

Use a real-life form (e.g. job application, medical history form, rental application, credit card application) or create a simplified version. Demonstrate (via projection) using your own information or invented information from a model. Provide opportunities for students to practice filling in the form using their own information or model information (for sensitive or personal topics).

Variations

For beginning levels, use simplified forms and/or provide forms with some of the information already filled in order to scaffold.

Provide opportunities for students to practice with both paper and electronic forms.

Allow students to practice on a paper form before filling out an electronic version.

Pathway skills

Resource Management Skills

  • Managing information
  • locating
  • organizing
  • communicating

Literacy Skills

  • comprehends written material
  • conveys information in writing

Find Someone Who

How you do it

Ask students to find other members of the class who have had a specific experience related to the lesson topic.  For example, in a lesson on socio-cultural practices in the workplace, use statements like, “Find someone who has attended an office party. Find someone who has received an award at work. Find someone who has signed a condolence card at work.  

Ask students to walk around the room and write the name of the student(s) who have had the experience. Students should  continue circulating to complete asking the questions and matching a student to each experience.

This is similar to an Information Grid but questions are listed on the page with a line to write in the name of the student who has had the experience.  

Variations

To vary the difficulty, you can either provide students with the complete questions, or with cue words that encourage them to construct the appropriate question forms themselves.

This can also be used as a ‘Getting to Know You’ activity with general questions about a person’s experiences.

Pathway skills

Working with Others

  • communication
  • communicates verbally
  • listens actively

Flashcards

How you do it

After introducing vocabulary, encourage students to create flashcards for identified key lesson vocabulary or for vocabulary that they identify as important.

   

Variations

Flashcards can simply be a word on one side, definition on the other. Rather than text, students can draw pictures or used photos cut from magazines.

For more advanced students, flashcards can include additional information beyond a simple definition of the word. Additional information could include: pronunciation, collocations, part of speech, synonyms/antonyms, connotations, word family.

Students can use flashcards to quiz themselves or they can use them with a partner.

Pathway skills

Self Management

  • working independently
  • self evaluation

Resource Management

  • managing information

Focused Listening

How you do it

Focused listening activities give learners an opportunity to practice listening to speech in authentic situations.

 

  1. Select materials that simulate real life situations (e.g. weather forecasts, traffic announcements, conversations, etc.).
  2. prepare students for the material they will hear by describing the situation and speakers.
  3. provide exercises that require students to listen for specific information (e.g. cause of a delay, a changed gate number, the estimated delay time, tomorrow’s weather forecast, etc.)
  4. provide clues to help students understand.
  5. check comprehension
  6. provide multiple opportunities to listen to the same passage.
  7. provide a chart or grid that students need to fill out with the information listened to
  8. provide feedback.0-------------------------------------------------------

 

Variations

Ways to vary for difficulty:

  • length of audio clip
  • number of speakers
  • visual support
  • amount of information to listen for
  • task students are asked to do with the information they hear
  • report back
  • summarize
  • synthesize
  • make an inference
Pathway skills

Critical Thinking Skills

  • reasons

Working with Others

  • communication
  • listens actively

Graph

How you do it

Graphing is a way to visually represent data.  Teacher provides the resources and models as appropriate different ways to represent data using a graph.  For example, using graphing paper, learners could create a simple graph (x and y axis) and identify points for given data.

Variations

Variation: Create any type of graph (bar graphs, pie chart) depending on the type of data and appropriate way to represent Could use pen and paper, MS Word or Excel, Google Docs or Spreadsheets..

Pathway skills

Critical thinking skills

  • Strategic thinking

Resource Management

  • Analyzing
  • Organizing
  • Communicating

Graphic Organizer

How you do it

Provide graphic models to help students organize information.

Graphic organizers can be used for a variety of purposes during different stages of a lesson. For example,

  • brainstorming
  • comparison/contrast
  • hierarchy
  • cause/effect
  • sequencing

Some graphic organizers are commonly associated with a particular stage of a lesson. For example, mind maps can be used as a prewriting activity to help students organize their thoughts or during the building background stage to elicit what students already know about a topic in a brainstorming activity.

Venn diagrams or T charts can be used as a post reading activity as a tool to analyze the text. It is important to provide explicit instruction and model how to use each type of graphic organizer.

Templates for a variety of graphic organizers can be found here: Education Place. Gliffy.com and ReadWriteThink.org

Variations

At lower levels the graphic organizer could be simplified with lines for students to write on. At higher levels the graphic organizers would be more sophisticated.

Pathway skills

Resource Management Skills

  • Managing information
  • organizing
  • prioritizing
  • analyzing
  • planning

Group Polling

How you do it

Group polling is a way to gather information and opinions from the class. It allows students to see trends and gain a better understanding of their classroom community. Polling is good for student needs assessment, or eliciting opinions on complicated topics.

Students can interview each other using info grids or single questions, then collect the data together.

Simple polls can be done by a show of hands, or by using free polling software, such as PollEverywhere.

Poll Everywhere

For an example, see this short video on polling with cell phones produced by REEP:

YouTube video on using Poll Everywhere in class

After group polling, it can be valuable to examine the data that has been collected and organize it into a chart or graph.

  • Once the data has been organized, you can practice using language frames to talk about it (e.g. Most people…, some people, half the class, etc.)
  • Students can then put the results into a narrative form, either written or spoken.
Variations

Ways to vary the difficulty:

  • Number of questions or “polls”
  • Provide questions or have students generate the questions
  • Familiarity of topic
  • Fact vs. opinion polls
  • Could be as simple as just voting, yes or no; true or false. For very low level literacy, colored cards that are held high could be used for agreeing or disagreeing.

Pathway skills

Resource Management Skills

  • managing information
  • locating
  • organizing
  • prioritizing
  • planning
  • using
  • analyzing
  • communicating

Literacy Skills: Reading, Writing, Math

  • predict information
  • create and use chart/graph to represent data visually
  • use math language to talk about data

Group Problem Solving

How you do it

A group problem solving activity allows learners to practice the skills of persuading, compromising, agreeing, and disagreeing.

  • The teacher presents a problem or situation and provides some possible choices or solutions.
  • Learners work in small groups to come to consensus about which solutions/choices are the best.
  • Each group presents its decision and reasoning to the whole class.
Variations

Ways to vary the difficulty:

  • provide possible choices or solutions OR ask the groups to generate all of the possible solutions
  • ask learners to rank possible solutions and provide reasoning for the ranking
  • organize a debate and ask groups to defend their decision
Pathway skills

Critical Thinking Skills

  • thinks creatively
  • makes informed decisions
  • strategic thinking
  • solves problems
  • reasons

Working with Others

  • respects individual differences
  • negotiates to resolve conflict
  • teamwork
  • works well with others
  • contributes to group effort
  • communication
  • communicates verbally
  • listens actively

Information Gap

How you do it

An information gap activity allows learners to practice asking and answering questions. It provides an authentic reason for communication as learners are forced to understand each other and to make themselves understood in order to complete a task.

In an information gap activity, learners have different sets of information. They must share their information which in incomplete with a partner in order to complete a task.

  • Teacher prepares a master handout that can be used to delete different pieces of information on two sets of handouts. Handout "A" will have some information deleted that handout "B"will provide. Handout "B" will have some other pieces of information deleted that handout "A" will provide.
  • Class is divided in pairs, one learner with "A" and the other with "B". Learners must ask partner questions to get information necessary to fill in missing information.

For example, when setting up an interview, one learner can be a job seeker and the other a receptionist setting up the appointment. Give the job seeker a sheet with their personal weekly schedule and give the receptionist a sheet with appointment slots.  

Variations

Ways to vary the difficulty:

  • use pictures instead of text
  • use authentic materials--community college class catalogue, schedule of job seeker workshops offered by local employment center
  • vary the amount of information required to complete the task
  • giving and following directions: One student can orally give directions to a classmate who will try to follow the directions.

    Ways to vary the difficulty:

    • use pictures instead of text to decrease the difficulty

    • use authentic materials to increase the difficulty--community college class catalogue, schedule of job seeker workshops offered by local employment center

    • vary the amount of information required to complete the task (less information missing to decrease the difficulty)

Pathway skills

Working with Others

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • communicates verbally
  • listens actively

Information Grid

How you do it

 Information grids are a structured way for learners to gather information from each other and practice asking and answering questions.

  • Practice the questions that learners will ask each other.
  • Provide a grid with the questions in the boxes across the top and the same number of rows as the number of people you’d like learners to “interview.” The question boxes can contain complete questions or cue phrases depending on the learners’ level and purpose of the activity. You can also ask learners to fill in the questions themselves after going over them as a whole group.
  • Model asking the questions and writing down the responses with a learner.
  • Learners interview each other and record answers.
  • Depending on the class size, results can be tabulated on a master grid on the board or tallied orally. In some cases, you can use the information collected to create a chart or graph to represent the data

Variations

Information grids can be used at all levels as teaching, evaluation, and needs assessment activities. They can be used with a variety of topics and can be created by the teacher and/or learners.  They are open-ended, so that students can work at their own pace, and the teacher can stop the activity after a certain amount of time.

Ways to vary the difficulty:

  • vary the number of questions to be asked
  • vary the number of people learners must interview
  • provide picture prompts for the questions
  • provide answer stems for the responses
  • have learners write one word responses or complete sentences
  • allow learners to circle one of 2 possible responses, rather than writing the response
  • provide the complete questions or provide cue phrases that require learners to produce the correct question form on their own
  • ask learners who finish early to write out the responses in complete sentences on the back of their paper

Pathway skills
  • Managing information:
  • locating

  • Literacy Skills:
  • Create/use chart or graph to represent data visually and in words.

  • predict information (visual literacy)

  • use “math” language to talk about the results (e.g. Half the class takes the bus everyday. Two thirds of the class speaks Spanish.)

Jigsaw Listening

How you do it

A listening jigsaw is very similar to a reading jigsaw, just substitute listening passages or video clips for reading passages. The main idea is that learners first work in homogenous (like-ability/interest) groups to gather information that is delivered at their skill level or their area of interest.  Next, they get into heterogeneous (cross-ability/interest) groups to share what they’ve learned and work together to solve a problem or complete a task. This is an activity that focuses on fluency, as learners share their information and negotiate to complete the task.

Listening Jigsaws can be simple and quick, requiring very little preparation.  You can also spend a little extra time for a more complex activity. Here are three examples.

 

Recording your own:

  • Teacher records 2-4 dialogues using a smartphone, a web service like Vocaroo, or using software like Audacity. Share the audio file in PowerPoint, on a wiki page, or in a Google Doc. It can be helpful to pair the audio with a picture.
  • Learners listen to one of the dialogues, take notes and/or answer comprehension questions then bring the info from their dialogue to a mixed group.
  • The mixed group uses the information from each member to solve a problem, make a decision, or complete a task.

 

Using multiple video clips:

  • Teacher finds 2-4 video clips.
  • Learners watch one of the clips, take notes and/or answer comprehension questions, then bring the info to a mixed group.
  • The mixed group uses the information from each member to solve a problem, make a decision, or complete a task.

 

Using pre-recorded audio or video:

  • Teacher plays one dialogue,  listening passage, or video clip in the classroom.
  •  Teacher assigns different groups to listen only for specific information. Learners listen for their assigned info, then bring that info to mixed group.
  • The mixed group uses the information from each member to solve a problem, make a decision, or complete a task.

Variations

  A good way to get multiple dialogues at multiple levels is to choose an already published dialogue of medium difficulty for your class. Then modify it for lower and higher degrees of difficulty. Some factors that influence the difficulty of a listening passage include: speed, length, number of speakers, complexity of grammatical structures, idioms, and different English varieties and accents.

Pathway skills

Working well with others:

  • Teamwork: work well with others
  • Respect individual differences
  • Negotiates to resolve conflict

  • Communication:
  • listens actively
  • communicate verbally

 

Critical Thinking:

  • solves problems
  • thinks creatively
  • strategic thinking

Jigsaw Reading

How you do it

A text is split into multiple sections. Learners are assigned in groups to work on reading different sections and to become an “expert” on that section. They may answer comprehension questions and take notes about their section. The experts from each group meet with each other in heterogeneous, or mixed, groups to share what they learned and use their combined knowledge to complete a task.

Rather than one text split into multiple sections, groups could each be given a different text on the same topic.

Variations

Ways to vary for difficulty:

  • length of text
  • provide textual support (pictures, headings, glossaries)

For the highest levels, students can be given a specific topic or question to answer and research the answer, then report back in jigsaw format.

Pathway skills

Working well with others:

  • Teamwork: work well with others
  • Respect individual differences
  • Negotiates to resolve conflict

  • Communication:
  • listens actively
  • communicate verbally
  • comprehends written material

  • Literacy skills
  • locating information in a text
  • comprehends written material

  • Critical Thinking:
  • solves problems
  • thinks creatively
  • strategic thinking

Label

How you do it

Given a picture or diagram, students label it. This can be done individually, or collaboratively in pairs or small groups. It can be used to assess student’s prior knowledge, apply, or assess what they have learned.

Ex. Labeling body parts, signs, tools or equipment, maps

Variations

Ways to vary the difficulty:

  • number of things to label, difficulty of vocabulary student is expected to use.

Pathway skills
  • Critical Thinking:
  • reasons

  • Communication:
  • listens actively
  • conveys information in writing
  • observes carefully

Line Dialogue

How you do it

This activity gives learners the opportunity to practice short dialogues over and over again with different partners. It also encourages peer teaching.

  • Learners form two lines facing each other.
  • Learners in LINE A have cue cards. These cue cards are used to elicit responses from learners in LINE B.
  • LINE A remains stationary, repeating the same questions while LINE B looks at cue cards, responds, and moves right. The last person moves to the beginning of the line.
  • Continue until everyone in LINE B has responded to everyone in LINE A. All pairs are talking at the same time.
  • LINE A gives cue cards to whomever is opposite in LINE B. Repeat the procedure.

For an example, see this short video on line dialogues produced by REEP:

https://youtu.be/AynQRAv5R3E

Variations

Ways to vary the difficulty:

  • use pictures or text for the cue cards
  • provide the complete question on the back of the cue card, or require learners to produce the correct question formation on their own
  • ask questions that require one word answers or answers in complete sentences
Pathway skills
  • Self Management Skills:
  • shows flexibility and adaptability
  • takes initiative
  • follows procedures

  • Working with Others:
  • Teamwork:
  •  works well with others
  • contributes to group effort
  • Exercises leadership
  • Communication:
  • communicated verbally
  • listens actively
  • comprehends written material

List

How you do it

Lists can be used to generate vocabulary that students already know related to a topic. Lists can be generated individually or in small groups. At lower levels the list can be pictures, at higher levels it can be words or connected text.

The teacher facilitates how the learners generate information that fits a particular activity or category on which they must focus.

Variations
  • At the literacy level, students can generate a list of words they know based on an initial letter or sound.
  • At a higher level, students can list items based on importance

(ex. students can list workforce skills, salary, benefits, etc. in terms of importance)

Pathway skills
  • Critical Thinking Skills:
  • thinks creatively
  • strategic thinking

  • Resource Management:
  • prioritizing

  • Working with Others:
  • negotiate
  • respect individual differences
  • team work
  • communication

Make the Abstract Concrete

How you do it

These are any kind of creative activities that aim to help beginning language learners understand abstract concepts or understand that an image or word represents a real thing.

It often involves hands-on activities and incorporates a variety of learning styles- auditory, visual, kinesthetic.

This kind of activity can take many forms. An example might be for the teacher to pantomime a concept. Another example might be setting up a series of subway and bus stops in the room and demonstrating the concept of using a transfer slip to go from one bus line to another or from subway to bus.  or showing how germs spread by putting glue and glitter on a pencil and passing it around.

Variations

In helping students understand concrete ideas and items, teachers use a variety of images, puzzles, etc. to do so.

Pathway skills
  • Self Management Skills:
  • demonstrates a willingness to learn

  • Resource Management Skills:
  • Managing information
  • analyzing

  • Working with Others:
  • communication
  • interprets nonverbal skills

Match

How you do it

Matching is an activity that helps reinforce vocabulary or other language learning. For example, students match definitions and words or examples; they match questions with answers; they match pictures and words.

To facilitate a matching activity, the teacher passes out strips, one per student, and directs students to find another student with a matching strip. This activity can also be one with small groups or pairs.

Variations

Matching can be adapted to all levels by varying the difficulty of the vocabulary or language structure on the strips.  

Pathway skills
  • Self Management Skills:
  • working independently
  • self evaluation
  • Critical Thinking:
  • solves problems
  • reasons

  • Resource Management Skills:
  • locating
  • organizing

  • Working with Others:
  • Teamwork:
  • works well with others
  • contributes to group efforts

  • Communication
  • active listening
  • asks for clarification
  • team work

Peer Dictation

How you do it

Peer Dictation is a partner activity in which one learner reads an assigned passage aloud while the other

learner writes it down. There are many different ways to structure this type of activity, but peer dictation activities can be adapted to all levels, and require the students to practice all four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Be sure that the learners have reviewed the relevant vocabulary and grammar  structures sufficiently before attempting this activity. If the content is not meaningful to the learners, this will be very difficult.

Variations
  • Peer dictation can be adapted to all levels by using very simple dictations focusing on the correct spelling of names, telephone numbers and simple sentences to more complex sentences to entire paragraphs.

  • Instead of writing words or sentences, students can also listen and manipulate  pictures based on commands.

Straight Sentence Dictation

  1. Give Learner A a list of sentences specific to the current unit. Give Learner B a sheet of blank spaces for each of Learner A’s sentences.
  2. Learner A reads the sentences to Learner B, who writes the information down in the blank spaces.
  3. Partners switch roles.
  4. Afterward, partners correct each other’s’ new sentences.

The Messenger and the Scribe

  1.  Tape a short text to the wall board in the classroom. Text can range from simple sentences to multi-paragraph readings depending on the level.
  2. Divide the class into pairs, and designate one member of each pair the “scribe”, and the other member of the pair the “messenger.”
  3. The messenger will walk to the wall/board and read the first bit of text. The messenger will return to

his/her partner, and dictate that portion of the text to the scribe from memory, who will record it on a piece of paper. The messenger may help with spelling, etc, but he/she cannot take the pen or pencil from the scribe.

  1. The messenger will continue to go to the board memorizing pieces of the text to dictate back to the scribe until the scribe has rewritten the entire text.
  2. Once the activity is over, learners can compare their story to the text from the board to check for mistakes.

Different Forms of the Same Paragraph (Cloze Activity)

  1.  Learner A and Learner B are each given a paragraph with different words, partial or whole sentences missing. Together, their hand-outs create one complete paragraph.
  2.  If Version A is the hand-out containing the first words of the paragraph, instruct learners with Version A to start. Learner A will read while Learner B fills in the missing information from his/her hand-out. As soon as Learner A reaches a point of missing information, Learner B will continue dictating his/her portion of the sentence or paragraph while Learner A writes down the missing words. This process will go on until each learner has the same completed paragraph.
  3. Once the activity is over, Partners A and B engage in peer correction and discuss the paragraph as a whole.

Different Paragraphs of a Story (Cloze Activity)

  1. Learner A and Learner B are each given a different hand-out. Version A has a complete first paragraph, and an incomplete second paragraph. Version B has an incomplete first paragraph, but a second paragraph.
  2. Learner A reads the first paragraph aloud to Learner B, who fills in the missing information from the first paragraph. Learner B then reads the second paragraph aloud to Learner A, who fills in the missing information from the second paragraph. By the end, each learner should have a complete story.
  3. Learners can compare sheets to check for any mistakes, discuss the story as a whole, and answer comprehension questions.  

Picture Dictation

By having learners use pictures, peer dictation can be incorporated at very beginning levels.

  1. Give Learner A a handout with picture, for example a person or a face).
  2. Give Learner B a handout with a list of commands.
  3. Learner B reads the commands and Learner A performs the command. For example, Learner B can tell Learner A to, “Put an x on the elbow. Circle one foot.”
  4. Learner B checks Learner A’s picture for accuracy.
Pathway skills

Communication

  • communicates verbally
  • listens actively
  • comprehends written material
  • conveys information in writing
  • observes carefully

Presentations

How you do it

Presentations are a way for learners to demonstrate knowledge, practice academic/workplace communication skills, and gain confidence.  Teacher provides parameters for the presentation, models what is expected of the learners, provides a criteria for assessment, and gives guidance for the audience. Learners present a topic to the class using multi-modal techniques.

Variations

Variations could include:

  • powerpoints/google slides
  • videos,
  • posters
  • oral presentation

Pathway skills

Critical Thinking Skills

  • Thinks creatively

Resource Management Skills

  • Manages information (organizing, planning, communicating)
  • Understands and uses technology

Working with others

  • Communication (verbal and in writing)

Process Writing

How you do it

Process writing is a technique to help learners create a written product that can be shared. Process writing follows the following steps:

  1. prewriting activities, such as brainstorming, organizing ideas, discussion
  2. create outline
  3. create draft
  4. peer review
  5. edit and revise
  6. finalize and publish

Teacher plans activities that guide students through each stage of the process.  See example lessons: http://our-voices.pwcs.adulted.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/integrated_home.phtml?gid=1580533&sessionid=e98c646d34d3451077346183fa0de9ab

Variations

At lower levels students may create picture stories.  At higher levels they will write connected text.

Publishing variations include:

  • creating a class book
  • create a class web page
  • display on bulletin board
  • blog

Pathway skills

Critical Thinking Skills

  • Thinks creatively

Self Management Skills

  • Working independently

Working with others

  • Working collaboratively
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Conveys information in writing

Resource Management Skills

  • Managing information
  • Organizing

Self Management Skills

  • Follows procedures

Ranking

How you do it

Ranking is a way for learners to prioritize or show relationships between words or concepts.  Teachers direct students individually, in pairs, or small groups, to rank concepts or words according to a given criteria.

Variations

This can be done online using the free Visual Ranking Tool https://engage.intel.com/docs/DOC-51727#set%20up%20a%20new%20project 

Pathway skills

Resource Management Skills

  • Prioritizing
  • Analyzing
  • Organizing

Realia Use

How you do it

Using realia is an effective way to teach vocabulary, especially at the lower levels, but it can be used at any level. Realia appeals to different learning styles as students can see and touch the item.  Teacher brings or directs students to bring everyday items to class to teach and practice vocabulary.  

Teacher holds up/points to an item and provides the name of the item.  Teacher provides practice activities  and refers to the item throughout the lesson to reinforce learning.  

Variations

Teacher brings in a variety of realia items (or pictures), each numbered. In small groups, students try to determine a variety of things about each piece (i.e. what the item is called, what it is used for, how many people in their group own one or have used one before,) Students can discuss orally, or discuss and write down the information. As a whole group, review items to clear up any confusions.

Teacher puts an item in a bag.  Student reaches in the bag to feel the item and guess what it is.  

Pathway skills

Working with Others

  • Communicates verbally
  • Observe carefully

LIteracy Skills

  • Predict

Record (Audio or Video)

How you do it

Recording is a way to receive feedback and for students to develop meta awareness skills. Teacher records students (or has them record each other).  Students then watch and self-assess their language skills.  

This can be used as a practice before an oral presentation, for role plays, to practice pronunciation, etc.

You can record audio or video using cell phones, or use Google Voice for audio recording.

Variations

Google Voice- Teacher sets up a free Google Voice phone number. Students call the number and leave a message. The teacher receives it in email format with a transcription and an audiofile.

Pathway skills

Self-management Skills

  • Self evaluation

Resource Management Skills

  • Analyzing
  • Using information
  • Understands and uses technology

 Research

How you do it

Teacher provides resources and parameters for students to locate and synthesize information on a given topic.

Teacher needs to provide sufficient detail so that students stay focused on their topic.

Teacher needs to provide a purpose for the research.

Research typically culminates in a project such as a presentation or written report.

Variations
  • Students  choose their own topics
  • Students  research web sites - these are webquests
  • Students interview others to gather information
  • Students use simplified materials at lower levels and authentic materials at higher levels depending on what they are researching

Pathway skills

Resource Management Skills

  • Managing information (locating, prioritizing, organizing, using, analyzing, communicating)

Response Writing

How you do it

Teachers have students write for a specific purpose or on a topic.Then papers are exchanged, and students respond to the other student’s writing. Roles can be assigned, for example employee writing to ask for time off and supervisor responding.

Variations

Email or text: Students can write and respond via email or text.

Dialogue journal in which peers or the instructor/student write back and forth in an ongoing written dialogue.

Progressive Story - teachers hand out papers that could have a photo or an initial phrase/sentence.Each student writes something about the photo or phrase and then passes it on to the next student who continues the story or add information. This continues until everyone in a group has contributed. Various stories can be created at the same time.

Pathway skills

Self-Management Skills

  • working independently

Resource Management Skills

  • Managing information- analyzing and communicating

Communication

  • comprehends written material
  • conveys information in writing

Role Play

How you do it

Role plays can be used to practice speaking and listening skills within real contexts and encourage spontaneous speech.

  1. Put learners in pairs. Assign each learner a role and provide them with a cue card.
  2. Learners carry on their conversations in their own words using the ideas on their cue cards.

Cue cards should include the learner’s role and their objective for the conversation. For example,

Cue Card #1

You have been working at a grocery store for one year. You are asking your boss for a pay raise.

Cue Card #2

You are the supervisor at a grocery store.

Role plays are used after students have had extensive practice with the vocabulary through dialogues and other activities.

Variations

Ways to vary for difficulty

  • don’t provide cue cards
  • use pictures in addition to or instead of text of cue cards

Students can work in trios, with one student audio or video recording the role play using a phone to then review and analyze.

Pathway skills

Working with others

  • Communication
  • Asking for clarification
  • listens actively
  • communicates verbally
  • Respects individual differences
  • Negotiates to resolve conflict

Self-Management Skills

  • Shows flexibility and adaptability

Skim and Scan

How you do it

The teacher tasks learners with finding specific information in a text or to get the gist of the text. Skimming and  scanning involves looking for information rather than reading for comprehension.  This can be adapted to different levels by increasing the lexile level of the text.

Variations

Skim and scan can also be a pre-reading activity, for example, learners look for new vocabulary or other information to make predictions.

Pathway skills

Literacy Skills:

  • Locating information in text
  • reading for gist

Self Management SKills

  • works independently

Resource Management Skills

  • Managing Information
  • Locating

Think Pair Share

How you do it

Teachers give students a question, problem, picture, or agree/disagree statement to ponder. Students independently Think about it. Then students Pair up with a peer and share with their partner. Each person prepares to share their partner’s ideas with the whole class.

Share- Back in whole group, each student introduces their partner and share their thoughts

Variations

Think-Pair-Share-Square: have pairs work with a second pairs (quads) rather than the whole class.

Think- Pair- Create- Share

As pairs share, have them note similarities and differences, and then create a new answer that incorporates the best of each person’s ideas.

Pathway skills

 Working with others:

  • Respects individual differences
  • Teamwork
  • Works well with others
  • Communication
  • communicates verbally
  • listens actively

TPR

How you do it

Total Physical Response (TPR) is a technique in which the teacher says a word or gives a command, and students respond physically. An example of TPR would be put your pencil under the table, beside your book, above your head. Or to review body parts- touch your elbow, knee, back, etc. Playing the game Simon Says is an example of using TPR.

Variations

This technique allows learners at lower levels to embody their response rather than spoken language. It targets listening skills and allows the teacher to assess comprehension.

Pathway skills

Self management skills

  • follows procedures

Communication

  • listens actively

Video

How you do it

Show a video and have learners do pre, while, and post activities. The pre activity should introduce the topic/context by drawing on learners’ past knowledge or experiences.  Predicting activities are also appropriate. “While” activities are tasks performed while the learners are watching the video to help them focus on vocabulary, phrases, or ideas. “Post” activities extend and expand the learning.

Variations

Sound off:  teacher turns off the sound and learners must suggest what actors are saying (create the dialogues) or what is happening.

Picture off, sound on:  learners can hear the video, but not see what is happening. They can draw a picture of what is happening, decide who is speaking, guess the location, etc.

Pathway skills

Literacy skills

  • Predict information

Working with Others

  • Communication
  • listens actively
  • conveys information in writing
  • observes carefully

Language Experience Approach

How you do it

(From CAL.org/CAELA) The language experience approach (LEA) is a whole language approach that promotes reading and writing through the use of personal experiences and oral language. It can be used in tutorial or classroom settings with homogeneous or heterogeneous groups of learners. Beginning literacy learners relate their experiences to a teacher or aide, who transcribes them. These transcriptions are then used as the basis for other reading and writing activities.

The LEA is as diverse in practice as its practitioners. Nonetheless, some characteristics remain consistent:

  • Materials are learnergenerated.
  • All communication skills-- reading, writing, listening, and speaking--are integrated.
  • Difficulty of vocabulary and grammar are determined by the learners own language use.
  • Learning and teaching are personalized, communicative, creative.

The most basic form of the LEA is the simple transcription of an individual learner's or group’s personal experience. The teacher sits with the learners so that they can see what is being written. The session begins with a conversation, which might be prompted by a picture, a topic the learner is interested in, a reading text, or an event the learner has participated in. Once a topic evolves, the learner gives an oral account of a personal experience related to that topic. The transcriber may help the learner expand or focus the account by asking questions.

Variations

Variation 1: Choosing the experience or stimulus. In collaboration with the learners, choose a prompt or activity that can be discussed and written up in some form. This might include pictures, movies, videotapes, songs, books or articles, class projects, field trips, holidays or celebrations, or an activity designed for this purpose.

Variation 2: Organizing the activity. Develop a plan of action with the class. This might include what you will do and when, and what you will need. The plans can be written on the board to provide the first link between the activity itself and the written word.

Variation 3: Conducting the experience. The following activities might be done in the classroom or in the community.

For example:

  • Preparing food (sandwich, French toast, salad, popcorn)
  • Making cards (thank you notes, get well cards, holiday cards)
  • Class projects (simulations, bulletin boards, skits) 
Pathway skills
  • Working with Others
    • Respects individual differences
    • Negotiates to resolve conflict
    • teamwork
    • Works well with others
    • Contributes to group effort
    • exercises leadership
    • Communication:
      • communic ates verbally
      • istens actively

Taking field trips (to the bank, market, malls, library, city hall) Mapping the school or the neighborhood.

Gallery Walk

How you do it

A gallery walk is very similar to a graffiti activity (see below). It's a way for students to respond to a prompt and / or share their work with each other and the teacher.  It's also a great way to get students up, moving, and engaging in conversation.   

First, display student work or prompts (questions, problems, etc.)  in stations around the classroom in a way that is conducive to being viewed by pairs or small groups. This is the "gallery." Then, have students work independently, in pairs, or in small groups to "walk the gallery" and provide feedback or answers to the prompts. You may want to time how long they stay at each station and / or provide different color markers for individuals/ pairs / groups. There are many ways to use a gallery walk in a lesson when you want to engage students in conversation:

  • After reading a story to discuss ideas, themes, and characters
  • After completing a lab to discuss findings and implications
  • To examine historical documents or images
  • Before introducing a new topic to determine students’ prior knowledge
  • After students have created a poster or any other type of display project
  • To generate ideas or pre-writes

These ideas come from http://www.theteachertoolkit.com/index.php/tool/gallery-walk

Variations

Graffiti

The items posted around the room do not have to be questions, but can be ideas or concepts or even math problems. Large sheets of paper or chart paper are placed on the walls of the classroom. Students write their responses, draw pictures and record their thoughts on the given topic on the graffiti wall. Students are encouraged to use colored markers to make the wall interesting and to identify each student’s work/response.

I Like, I Wonder, Next Steps

Use a Gallery Walk format for students to get feedback on their work.  Hang student products, such as drawings, visual representations, poster projects, etc. Students, individually or in groups, rotate around the room and provide feedback to the creator of the work. Students are required to record one thing they like about the work displayed, one thing they wonder about it, and one thing the creator could do next or improve. This can be done before work is submitted to the teacher so that students may use their classmates’ feedback to improve their products. Students can write feedback on chart paper posted by each work, or they can use three different colored sticky notes (one for each category) to write their feedback and stick it directly onto the student product for instant feedback.

Gallery Run

This is a quicker version of a Gallery Walk. The questions posted at each station are lower level questions involving knowledge or comprehension. Students don't need to spend as much time discussing questions at each station, so they rotate them through at a quicker rate.  You can post many more than 6 questions so students get much more practice.

Pathway skills
  • self evaluation
  • displays professionalism
  • thinks creatively
  • communicates effectively