Post-confinement teaching

I don’t know about you but being plunged into the world of online teaching felt like learning a whole new job and set of skills overnight. I felt like a complete novice teacher again, and in fact I was. I had to learn from scratch what worked and what didn’t, I watched webinars, read articles, and as always – learnt from experience. It was a challenge, but after two months I’d finally developed a new skill set and was enjoying my zoom lessons as much as my students.

Then something even more challenging happened – we went back to school.

In Geneva schools opened again on 11th May, under strict sanitary guidelines and I found myself teaching half the class at a time (which was often the case because our school has always split at least two thirds of the language class hours anyway), so far so good you may say.

Yes, it was lovely to see everyone again, to have face-to-face (or mask to mask!) contact, to see my colleagues, for students who had weak internet connection to finally join in, to no longer have to spend my evenings scanning chapters for those who’d left their books at school.

However, the new rules mean the teachers must wear a mask when moving around the school. When the students have entered a classroom, we have all disinfected our hands and they have sat in their new socially distanced places then I can remove my mask if I stay standing at the front of the class, at least two metres away from the students. Some classrooms even have plastic screens I can sit behind.

I cannot give worksheets, cards, games, anything in fact to my students. I cannot take in their work, I cannot move around the classroom checking their work, or making suggestions. Students cannot work in pairs, share documents or materials, they cannot work in groups. I cannot move from in front of the whiteboard. A student who has forgotten his/her book cannot share with a neighbour, students no longer have neighbours! The French education ministry has officially declared that results from this period (how was I supposed to mark their work anyway??) are not to be taken into account, and certain students have quickly realised what this entails. However new rules mean we cannot remove a student from the classroom  if their behaviour disturbs the lesson, there are no longer detentions or written sanctions in case of misbehaviour, students who would whisper to their classmates before now need to call out in order to be heard…

My first thoughts when trying to prepare my post-confinement classes were about all the things we cannot do, and I’ll admit that a few of my lessons felt like I’d gone back in time a hundred years or so, me writing on the board and the students copying it ( with me having no idea whether what they were copying was correct or not!).

This is NOT the kind of “teaching” I want in my classroom, it’s soul destroying and boring, I’m continually trying to make my lessons more inclusive; avoiding my students having to copy from the board, giving time for everyone to discretely ask for help if they need it, leaving a box of fast-finisher activities at the front of the class or students to delve into and find a fun activity to be getting on with while the others finish, plenty of “think-share-pair”…

Now we’re down to just “think-“.

So think is what I’ve been doing and I’ll be sharing any ideas I come up with over the next week or so. In the meantime, please share yours below.


Posted in Blethering, Inclusive Practices | 3 Comments

Working from home – like Mr D, quick lesson based on Roald Dahl’s writing shed


Look carefully, describe in detail, would you like to work here? What do you think could/might/should/must be on the desk? Who do you think would work in a place like this? (Your English teacher?!) Would you like to?

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Create a netflix series

What I love about this lesson is that students can really go to town on their strengths, music, designing posters, character study, etc. I often use it at the end of a chapter to bring in everything they’ve learnt, for example this week a class will be preparing a series set in Australia, including at least four animals and I want a superlative in the title/by line.


  1. Decide on and describe the location(s)
  2. Decide and describe the main characters
  3. Explain the main plot, what happens during the series? What problems do the characters face?
  4. Plan and act out the opening scene
  5. Plan the trailer – what is the title and by line of your series
  6. Design the poster
  7. Find the signature music
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What is the difference between travel & tourism? – A TED talk comprehension activity


I was looking through some TED talks today, which I often do when I want some inspiration (for life as well as class!) and came across this brilliant guy who travelled from Washington D.C. to Antarctica.

I thought I’d share the comprehension questions (with answers!) for you in cas you’re interested, I’ve left it in simple word format so you can play about with it!


Open RoadTEDtalkquestions

Open RoadTEDtalkquestionsOpen RoadTEDtalkanswers

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Paper Chains – an ELT activity


Not just for Christmas decorations – although why not, if you use festive colours!

Cut up a pile of rectangular pieces of coloured paper – say 15cm x 5cm and write a word on each one, you can use them to revise the grammar or vocabulary of your choice:

  • write an irregular verb on each one – the students/teams who produce a correct phrase using the verb in the past glue the ends together or add it to their chain.
  • Write a variety of words from different lexical groups, students have to make a chain for each group.
  • Write a variety of words, students have to form a link between two words ( they’re both found in the sea/are square…) to, well, form a link between the paper slips.

Then decorate your classroom!

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How to sew a button and other useful lessons to teach in ELT class

The great thing about teaching English is that it’s just an excuse for learning lots of other stuff. This week I’m sure my students went away having actually learnt something useful, here’s what we did:

  1. Ask the students how to sew on a button, brainstorm any vocabulary and then show them this video
  2. Brainstorm a list of other tasks students don’t necessarily know how to perform, changing a bike tyre, etc.
  3. Students “research” how to do the task they choose, i.e. watch a youtube video on how to…!
  4. They then “teach” their new skill to the rest of the class.

You could always get them to research at home and then actually perform the task in class while they explain, maybe easier to do with a button than a bike!!

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Portmanteau words

I love these! You know words like brunch, smog, and our favourite at the moment – Brexit!

Rather than teach a lesson on brexit I thought it would be more fun to do one on portmanteau words, there are loads, some of which – electrocution or ginormous for example, that I didn’t realise were until I prepared this activity.

What we did:

Very simple really, I gave the students some examples, there’s plenty here, or get them to search online. They chose their favourites and presented them to the class, we particularly liked floordrobe – a word that spoke volumes to many!

Next, students came up with their own and we voted for those we preferred, mine was the verb to glock, meaning to glance at the clock, especially students doing it towards the end of the lesson, as in “I knew the bell was about to go when I saw a couple of students glocking”.

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Mood boosters for fast Finishers

It’s been a while since I posted so I thought I’d offer you a little gift for being so patient with me.

I love using Fast Finishers activities (the book is a bit of a giveaway!!) and here are some FF tasks that will boost the mood of your students!!

Mood Boosters for Fast finishers is a collection of autonomous activities you can download, cut out and leave in a box at the front of the class, students who finish an activity can come and collect one of these cards and keep themselves busy AND boost their wellbeing while the rest of the class continue with the original task.


Write a nice note to someone.



Write the name of 3 people you love & describe why.



Describe a day you were proud.



What is the hardest things you’ve ever done?



If you could give $1 million to a person or charity who would it be & why?



If you were a teacher, what would you teach?


Start a gratitude list & add to it whenever you have time.



Write about 3 things you can do well.


If you could give anyone a present now, what would you give to whom?



What treat can you give yourself after class?


Write a joke in English.



What was the last thing to make you laugh?



What is your goal and what one thing can you do today to get closer to it?



If you could do one thing today to help someone, what would it be?


Describe the clothes you wear when you want to be happy?



Write a list of things you would do to cheer up a sad friend.


Write a list of “feel-good” films you would recommend to your classmates.



Write a “happy tunes” playlist of songs that make you happy.


Write about the last thing you did to help someone else.



Who is your hero and why? Now write a list of all the things you have in common with this person.


Hope you find them useful 🙂

Posted in Fab ideas, fast finishers, last minute plans, wellbeing | 1 Comment

CPD for busy teachers

With conference season in full swing, I just know I’m going to walk out of the next talk thinking about how I really must make more time to keep up to date on my professional, and therefore personal development. Often I then do nothing until the next event, however this time I’ve actually got together some ideas for squeezing some food for thought into a busy timetable.

Nothing makes me so happy about commuting to work as the time to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. Having got through the entire Game of Thrones, Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, Stephen Fry, I’ve now turned to educational podcasts on my morning journey.

The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast is brilliant, the 10 minute teacher podcast is compiled by Vicki Davis aka @coolcatteacher, I also love the creative classroom as well, and of course TED talks need no introduction, and these ones are particularly related to education.


The British Council provide a wide range of short, useful courses.

Finally at you can read short articles on a variety of ELT related subjects .

Please leave a comment letting me know if this has been useful to you, and more importantly please share your own CPD tips!


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Exit Cards

The end of the lesson is as important as the start, although you wouldn’t think that from my planning – or execution! While I plan great starts, warm ups, lead-ins etc the end of the lesson is usually accompanied by me yelling last minute instructions to my students as they bolt to their next class, still clutching the last worksheet I flung at them!

This is why I love exit cards, particularly all-purpose exit cards like these, just stick them on cards and let students pick from a hat 10 minutes before the end of a lesson, or use them for homework.

draw a mind map of today’s lesson

set the HW

how would you use what you learnt today in real life?

Tweet what you learnt

Write three key words in the class watts app

Write 3 questions about today’s lesson to ask the rest of the class

Write a question for the teacher

Write down how you would teach this lesson differently

Make a word search of today’s lesson

2 minute brainstorm/writing jog on today’s lesson

Blurb – sell this lesson

2 true 2 false phrases about this lesson

Give yourself mnemonic device to remember today’s lesson

2 stars & a wish for the lesson

Draw a picture representing something you learnt

If I was teacher I’d ask the class…

An anagram of something from today’s lesson

Describe the lesson in exactly 20 words

3 different ways to remember what you learnt today

Write a question that was answered in class today

Predict what we’ll do next lesson

Talk for 1 minute exactly about today’s lesson

Write a slogan for the lesson

a mark out of 10 for this lesson,show your teacher with your fingers

Write a three word definition of something studies today

Choose a song/film that represents today’s lesson

Write a multi-choice question about the lesson



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