Monday, December 16, 2013

Add Some Fun To Your Lessons

One of the most valuable tools I have in my English teaching arsenal is my tablet. If I've prepared a lesson plan on fruits & vegetables but then a student asks what a giraffe looks like, rather than trying to act it out (Yes, I've tried this. It didn't work.) I can pull it up on my tablet and the student understands instantly.

If I want to reinforce the spelling and pronunciation of new vocabulary words we can look at paper flashcards all day long. But playing a game of hangman, doing a wordsearch, or using Quizlet flashcards on the tablet takes it to a whole different level.

And if a student needs a break? Yes, they can sit quietly ... or they can play Turkey Smash or some other silly game.

But tablets are expensive and can be cumbersome to take around with you. So I decided on the highly rated, Hisense Sero 7 Pro, it was $130 at Walmart, and at 7 inches can be used by 1-3 students at a time. I'm really glad I bought it, I think it adds a lot to my English lessons.

Monday, December 9, 2013

You Don't Always Have To Reinvent The Wheel

I currently teach two English Conversation Circles classes a week. That means I am responsible for two lesson plans a week. And since the classes are different levels, and since I hadn't found a book or coursework that I liked 100%, I have been basically writing two unique lesson plans a week for the past 6 months. (So that's why she is hardly blogging.) Most of the lesson plans have been a hoot to teach, and I doubt my students would have learned these things anywhere else, so it was totally worth it.

Here are some of the things I've taught:

* All about the Portland Timbers Soccer team (including the official team schedule)
* The prep school in the US that was selling T-Shirts that said, WTF (We're The Falcons), and the uproar it caused.
* How Dolce & Gabana created a perfume marketed for babies
* One about bullying that used Pixar's For The Birds, short.

And while it has been an extremely creative 6 months, I am a little tired. Enter my savior ...

The Oxford Picture Dictionary

and its best friend

The Oxford Picture Dictionary Low Beginner Workbook.

The dictionary is chock full of clearly labelled and categorized pictures, and the workbook has worksheets that go along with these pictures. It has been very helpful for my beginner students, and my advanced students like it too. I always supplement the lessons with other photos of the objects we are talking about, or the items themselves, if portable (dish, plate, napkin, etc.). I also use flashcards, word searches, or hangman (the android app I have on my tablet is especially fun for small groups) to really cement the vocabulary words.

While using these books has cut my prep time per lesson from 3 hours to 1 hour, I'm sure I'll need to do some unique lesson plans again. But for now, I'm just going to focus on the wheel that someone else invented for me. Especially since I may have private students very soon.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Back in May of 2013 I stopped lifting weights. I know this because the last day I charted was May 20th and the chart has a layer of dust on it. Why did I stop? The allergy shots made weight lifting too hard. I couldn't breathe, and it was just too hard to do. So I stopped.

One could argue that all of my swimming is considered strength training, but I wanted more. I missed these workout sessions. So last week I started again. When I told my massage therapist that I had started again, she asked why. Was it to bulk up? Was it to tone? I answered ... because it makes me feel good.

For now, I'm going simple. Not EASY, mind you, just simple. I am following Chalene Johnson's "Sculpt 30 Class "routine from my TurboFire DVD set. (I bought it in 2011 and am still loving it!) I'm also using my red SPRI tubing.

Once I get tired of this routine, I can also try the "Tone 30 Class" and "Bonus Burn Circuit 1" but I'm guessing that by then I'll be back to my notebook of favorite workouts using weights. Either way, I'll continue to be happily sore and growing stronger by the day!