Christmas presents with a difference: a video lesson plan

Merry Christmas teachers! After what’s been another challenging term we’re entering the home straight and will soon be sending our students on their merry way for the holidays. Once end-of-term exams and report cards are out of the way, thoughts sometimes turn to a festive lesson or two. With that in mind I’ve prepared a video-based Christmas lesson as an ‘off the shelf’ option. A students’ worksheet is available here (Word format for editing) and there are some teacher’s notes and answers here.

The lesson is based on a 2020 Commercial from the American telecommunications company Xfinity and features Steve Carrell as Santa Claus. The video combines the themes of Christmas and the pandemic, both still relevant in 2021!

The video is humorous and vocabulary rich, both in terms of its Christmas vocabulary and the phrasal verbs and other idiomatic language in the script. There’s plenty to exploit and I think the topic also offers plenty of opportunities for the students to talk about their own experiences. This lesson plan is designed for students of a B2 level and above: why not give it a go?

 

Building leadership qualities in teens

Follow me, I know the way! 

In this two-part blog series, we’re going to talk about leadership.

But first, a bit of context. Giving centre stage to real world competencies (like leadership) is at the heart of Spain’s new educational law, the LOMLOE. However, the conversation around competence-based teaching and learning has been developing for quite some time. Pearson’s employability framework developed in 2019 is a useful resource for teachers looking for both research and practical guidance on teaching and assessing key competencies..

One of the competencies outlined by the framework is leadership: check out the full report if you’re feeling studious or the executive summary for an overview. And of course, keep reading this blog post in which we’ll look at how we can develop leadership in our teens. Let’s begin!

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LOMLOE: Making our classroom an inclusive place to be

We all like to feel included. To feel that we belong, and that people care about us. To feel that we’re listened to and to feel that we’re represented. To feel that we have the same opportunities open to us that others have, regardless of our circumstances. And our students have a right to all these things.

Inclusion has been on the agenda in education for many years. Consider the names given to Educational laws and acts: The ‘No Child left behind Act’ (2001) and its successor the ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ (2015) in the USA, or ‘Every Child Matters’ (2003) in the UK. The right to education of every child in accordance with the UN Convention was set out back in 1989 and Quality Education is the fourth of the 17 UN sustainable development goals.    

Inclusion in education is already well embedded here in Spain and is one of the five pillars of the new education law, the LOMLOE, which is coming into force.

In this blog post we’re going to look at what inclusion means and provide resources that will help us be inclusive in our teaching practice.

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Back to School: the ice-breaking, rule-making, goal-setting blog post

Doesn’t time fly? It seems only yesterday that I was putting my kids to work on the front of a pedalo while sunbathing on the back, but September is almost upon us and that means it’s time to go Back to School.

As Will Rogers said, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ Now, this isn’t a blog post advertising my latest shampoo range and we can and should make continuous improvements, but the quote does broadly hold water for our context as the first few lessons set the tone for the rest of the year.

These are some of the vibes I like to try to give off at the start: “Hello! I’m your teacher. I’m fun. I care about you as people. I’m organised. I have high expectations of work and behaviour.”

As far as I can I want to establish a climate in class in which students feel safe and at ease with me and each other and that they know where they’re going.

With the above in mind, in our first lessons back we may include 1) ‘Getting to know you’ activities 2) Rules and expectations 3) Course content and goals. This blog post will deal with these three areas.

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LOMLOE: a look at the new Education Law

Change. It’s something teachers everywhere are well-versed in, particularly given the events of the last 18 months. Another change coming into focus for teachers in Spain is a new Education Law, the LOMLOE. The stated aim of the law is to ensure the provision of a quality education with equal opportunities for all and one all. The Law aims to help equip young people with the necessary competences to meet the demands of the global and digital world of today and tomorrow: to meet the demands of societal change 

In the blog post we’re going to look at the reasoning behind the new law and the key competences that it outlines. In future blog posts, we’ll look at what the law means for the English curriculum and look at what we can do in the classroom to develop the competences the law outlines.   

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5 books for your students to read this summer

Summer’s (nearly) here and the time is (nearly) right, for dancing in the street! After what’s been a challenging year in so many ways, teachers and students alike are looking forward to a well-earned summer break. But before we dismiss our class, we might set them a task or two to keep up their English: summer’s long over here! Last year I wrote a post with ten top tips for summer activities. In the coming weeks, my colleague Anita Derecskei will be looking at getting our students working autonomously on their writing and speaking and then grammar and vocabulary. But today, I’d like to suggest that classic summer activity: reading a book. And I’d like to share five of my favourite stories to suit different tastes and levels. But this is just the tip of the iceberg – click here to see more!

  1. The Twits

This Roald Dahl classic is one of my son’s favourite books, I must have read it to him a dozen times, I never get bored of it and neither does he. It’s hilariously funny and The Twits are deliciously evil! Imagine putting a ‘Skillywiggler’ in your wife’s bed and telling her ‘It’s got teeth like screwdrivers!’ We repeat this line every time we see a big insect in the countryside. Give it a go with your young learners: you won’t regret it!

 

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Structuring a grammar class…and five top practice activities

Link

Grammar lessons sometimes get a bad press. Perhaps that’s because in the past the lion’s share of the grammar class has been devoted to an explanation and mechanical practice activities. Those things are necessary, but redressing the balance with more meaningful communicative activities can lead to our students coming to our grammar lessons with more of a spring in their step…and they’ll learn the grammar better too!

In the blog post we’ll consider a procedure to teach grammar (Part 1) and move onto five top activities to practice the grammar taught (Part 2). Let’s begin!

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Speak Out for Sustainability – Get Involved!

As English teachers we know a thing or two about preparing our students for the future. For starters, we help develop our students’ communicative competence in the language itself. We look to integrate other skills too, such as digital literacy, critical thinking or the ability to collaborate with others in a team. But as well as ‘preparing’ our students for the future, we can also give them the tools to go out and shape that future for themselves.

Speak Out for Sustainability, a project recently launched by Pearson and BBC Studios is a project with our students’ futures in mind. It’s a project which has at its heart the goal of making that future sustainable. And we aim to do that by raising awareness of sustainability issues and inspiring action and interaction among teachers and students alike.

Read on to find out more…

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Helping our students recognise paraphrase in exams (and beyond)

I hope you enjoy this blog post and find it useful. I trust you’ll like this article and get something out of it. I’m hopeful you’ll appreciate this piece and deem it helpful.

This post is about paraphrase. Paraphrase is something our students will use in real life, for example when telling someone about something they’ve read or heard (such as in mediation), or when reformulating when they sense someone hasn’t understood what they’ve said.

And moving to receptive skills and exam questions, spotting paraphrase in a text is often a key to getting the answer right. Indeed, these GSE descriptors indicate what a learner at a B2 level should be able to do:

It is an (exam) skill that we can help our students develop and in this blog post we’ll be looking at how both by using course material and in other ways.

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Supporting International Women’s Day in the classroom and beyond

8th March is International Women’s Day. It is a day on which we celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality, all with the aim of forging a gender equal world. Here at Pearson Spain and Portugal, we’d like to mark the day in a number of different ways.

Lesson materials

Firstly, we’ve prepared a reading lesson for your intermediate teens. The focus of the lesson is celebrating women’s achievements. Click to download the student worksheet  and the teacher’s notes. Feel free to adapt and use the material as you wish.

In the lesson, students will read about a scientist, a sports star, a billionaire business executive and an activist, all of whom are women. Unless we’ve been very careful as teachers, our students are likely to have been exposed to more male role models in these categories than female.

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