Tried and proved works!

Find-your-match reviewing game 總複習遊戲-句型篇

It’s that time of the year when everything is chaotic and you need to find a way to wrap up the semester with efficiency and a bit of fun! Find-your-match can help your kids to revisit those learned material AND have all 4 skills covered. The review game I’m going to introduce here is pretty straight forward. Nothing fancy but it does the work. 微笑

Grade level: basic- intermediate

Teaching props:

  1. Summery page of the textbook
  2. scrap papers for each student
  3. stickers
  4. hats or similiar containers as sentence collectors, in my class, I use a hat and a box

Teaching goal:

  1. Students can read the sentence slips they have and find the one who has a matching question (or answer) slips.
  2. After the pair is located. They go to the teacher to replay the dialogue again.

Game plan

  1. Have students to read through the index page, or summery page, depends on your textbook layout. I have them read through the page and ask a few questions as a warm-up.

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Index page

2. Then I have boys to pick 4 questions from the page and girls to pick 4 answers and write them on the paper slips.


3. I’ve had my new camera projector ready this time and promptly did the show-and-tell. You’ll need to leave a fair bit of time here to make sure they know what to do.


4. Have your sentence collectors ready! I’ve got a cowboy hat to collect questions and a box to collect answers(See the pictures below). Send two of your kids to collect the paper slips from everyone. You may also want to write down the hint on the board.

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Make sure they don’t mix the Questions with the Answers.


5. Now you have two sentence collectors full of paper slips. Send two kids to start dispersing Question slips to girls and Answer slips to boys. You may have each pupils to have 2-4 slips as a start. Leave a few minutes for them to examine and practice the sentences they received. Usually I make sure each of them have at least 3 paper slips in their hands.

6. Have children mingle with the others and find the one who has the answer of their respective question, or the one who has the question that lead to the answer.

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7. Once they find their partner, they should report to you as a pair. They replayed the dialogue in front of you again. If they pass, I give them a sticky dot.

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8. Have them recycle the paper slips in another container. Once they’ve used up all the paper slips in their hands, they go to the hat or the box to have more paper slips to practice.  

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This is a fun and engaging activity and kids get to listen and speak numerous times in the target language.

Later on, you can even have a quick fix-the-problem writing activity as a follow-up.

There are a few things note-worthy in this activity:

1. It seems to motivate lower-level kids to learn/imitate from their peers.

2. The sticky dots can be the ticket to fit in your classroom management scheme. They love it.

3. They love digging their hands in the hat/box to try their lucks! It’s really nothing mysterious but the gesture itself gives off a fun vibe.

4. While the drill obviously has it’s own merit in terms of reading comprehension, it does help kids to familiarize matching Question sentence & possible replies.

Caution: Be prepared for a classroom with lots of constructive noise. 微笑


Finding tranquility through chaos-2 classroom management schemes

Classroom management hasn’t been an big issue for me for years until this school year, which marks the 10th year of my teaching career, that I decided to change my role to a homeroom teacher.

I then realized that I need to come up with a plan that cope with my new scenario, that I’ll have to stay with the same group of kid every day for a year. Unlike my prior 9 years of 40-minute management scheme, this new ‘battle field’ requires new strategy.

Clip chart system

So I finally put the ‘Clip chart’ system into practice and I’m so glad how it turns out! You can take a look at the original Clip Chart manual here (downloadable). You can also find the Clip Chart pinterest board here.

I then made my own Clip Chart

This is how it looks like in my classroom

The inventor of this system, Rick Morris, is apparently an experienced educator. His attention to details including, advising teachers to write boys numbers on different sides of the clips from girls. The reason is simple, so that kids can easily find their clips and make this act a less interruptive movement during the class.

So how does it work? To put it simply, MOVE-RECORD-REWARD

1. MOVE– Everyone starts from the GREEN ZONE (READY TO LEARN) everyday.  my kids get to move up a baby step if they get the answer right, clean up their desk without being reminded, show signs of great improvement…etc. They get to do the giant leap, meaning to move up to the next color, if they can present their ideas in a complete sentence, if they’ve been innovative in problem solving, if they got caught doing something great! I have them move down their clips when they don’t hand in their homework on time, or being disrruptive in the class…etc.

2. RECORD– to make the system a long-term sheme to encourage good behaviour, I have a trust-worthy kid to record their daily score on a sheet and public it in the classroom bulletinboard. They learn two things from here, 1, you can always start fresh in the next day. 2. success is built on long term engagement.

3. REWARD– I prepared a box of stickers. They’ll get to choose a sticker from the box once they accumulated to 90 points. That sounds a lot but they get the idea of keeping up the good work. On top of the sticker indicates the benefits they earned, such as 50% off homework, free nap time, free choice of lunch partner.       Tt

The result in my class? Marvelous! I didn’t know that every kid, regardless of how he/she performs usually, they all long for the moment to move up and surpass theirs/peers records. Additionally, it visualize rewarding and punishment in a rather postive way.

I FORGOT folder

I forgot folder

I have those forgetful kids to fill in the form of the I FORGOT folder so we have a reference when discussions needed. You know how often they claim innocence even they knew what they’ve done for the entire semester!

I usually leave it on the counter so kids get easy access to it. Last Saturday during the school carnival, a dad of a boy in my class came in and browse through the classroom, without being prompted, he picked up the folder and saw his boy’s name on the record sheet more than ten times. He then realized that I haven’t been espeically strict to his boy and immediately he took the parental responsibility to discipline his child on-site.

So here are my two helpful classroom management sheme and I’ve been keeping up my promise of writing every Tuesday! Let’s hope I get to blog routinely!

Changing lanes and marching on- what I have learned from working with YLs

In my opinion, there are two kinds of people that work like mirrors and oftentimes they unknowingly help us learn more about ourselves. Our partner can do that, he or she reacts on our thoughts and actions and in a way, they reflect our image. Our students can also do that, they are the great reminders of ideas and concepts you’ve taken for granted as time goes by. They help you realize what you are good at and areas you need to work on. Be it adults or children, what we teachers can learn from our students are usually the key for better teaching and learning.

I’m undergoing a transitional phase in my career since this semester, walking away from my comfort zone as an EFL teacher for 10 years and start fresh as a homeroom teacher is no easy step. It’s a bazzar feeling to start learning to teach like a NQT after 10 years but the experience is truely amazing. I learned more about these ‘little people’ and in a way my students taught me how to fit in the new role. I felt like seeing teaching from fresh perspectives and learned quite a lot from my children. So to celebrate my halfway up to the first year as a homeroom teacher, I’d like to share some thoughts about teaching little devils young learners.

Remix teaching material

Textbook is usually the last thing I have kids to put out at the end of the class. I believe that textbook, regardless of its formality and quality, is supposed to be a guideline, a tangible object for students/teachers to fall back on; while real learning takes place in a more ‘untangible and messier’ way. I often remind myself to embed at least three different teaching medium in a 40-minute session. The combinations can be various; they can be good-old-fashioned blackboard drills, interactive whiteboard games, or individual writing games. It’s the teachers’ interpretation of the language material that connects the textbook with real life. The ritual of opening the book at the end of the class serves the purpose of organizing/rephrasing prior ideas into clear concepts and logics. At the meantime, it’s also a good idea to do some individual quiet work so children have the time to reflect on learnt material.

Embed learning strategies in teaching


Have children organize teaching material with graphics and diagrams. You can always start from a simple T-chart then gradually progress to more complicated charts such as a Venn diagram. The practice not only reinforces vocabulary but also personalize the language material. Moreover, learning strategies were embedded so children can start developing their own learning system. And it’s all part of the scheme of nurturing successful learners’ autonomy. Visual clues should be put out all year round and update them in an appropriate manner.

Having fun is always the best motivation

Little people learn from doing, they learn from enjoying the sense of achievement. For children, singing and dancing is always the best trick to get them involved in the class, however, it’s the ‘extra mile’ you lead them to afterwards decides if the fun part compliments the learning. Even the roll-calling task at the beginning of the semester can lead to a meaningful and active learning process(Read sample lesson plan here and here).

Step back and wait for it

For many Taiwanese EFL teachers, the challenge we face everyday is that true beginners sit side by side with advanced students, yet they share the same classroom, under the guidance of the same teacher in the same time frame. Our long tradition of cramming school system, meaning after-school English education, makes sure public school teachers have a hard time setting reasonable goals and make effective lesson plans. After years of battling with the reality, I finally realized that teachers also need to step back and let the material sit in for a while. Not just for the students, but also for the teachers, to have time to do individualized learning activities. This is especially important if the routine learning hour does not meet the requirement of sufficient language exposure. Patience and keen observance can help you pick up the holes and patch them up before they got too big.

Helping them to take ownership of the language

Needless to say, this is where language learning started to make sense for learners. However, for YLs, especially in an EFL country, taking the ownership of the language material may require a long time. In this case, try customizing the available material. I’ve had my kids grouped in teams made their own team songs AND draw matching posters (Read OUP project here). We end up creating 5 different lyrics and accompanying posters from 1 song. My children even claimed, ‘It’s MY song!’ Additionally, making alphabet books with local themes also encourages applying the language plus easier to do differentiated teaching (See alphabet books sample here).


Teachers need to experience the ‘FIRSTS’ as well

After years of teaching in the same context/position, we all need a break from fixed routine and maybe a couple of new thinking caps. If changing lanes is too dramatic for you, try to do experiments in your class. Try out the methods/projects you’ve long known exist but never get to put them into practice. Engage in local/international-wised projects so you can do your lesson planning from a new angle(See my International Exchange Project here). I’m especially fond of this interview of Jamie Lee Curtis’ , where she said that we adults should have our share of ‘firsts’ to ‘celebrate the everyday bravery’. So I’m embracing my journey as a new teacher start from 2012. I was reborned again in that sense! Haha!

Jamie Lee Curtis Interview

English for late boomers補救教學分享

I’ve got a last minute call to do a presentation over remedial teaching in the subject of English. Luckily I’ve been blogging about my catch up program at the last school year so retrieving those data is no problem. Compiling them, however, is never easy.


24th EFL/ESL blog carnival!

Well, it has been several weeks since school started and I’m still as busy as a bee!

But it’s the carnival time of the year again! This is the third time I submitted my blog post to the carnival and I’ve since enjoyed so many more interesting reading and ideas of teachers from different parts of the world!

The theme this time is about back-to-school ideas/ice breakers/ fillers. I’m very happy to be included again! Thanks to A Journey in TEFL’s organization, there are a bunch of good readings waiting to be ponder and experimented!

I try to document things that went well in my classroom as often as possible but sometimes it is very difficult to just sit down and write! Gotta write more often and believe me writing IS therapeutic!

Do check out the 24th EFL/ESL blog carnival for lots of practical ideas! Mine is on the first of the list:-)


End-of-the-semester activity_2nd grade & 4th grade

Well, it’s a bit odd to post this at the beginning of the semester but I didn’t get the chance to finish the post until today!!:-P

How do you wrap up a semester in your last few sessions? As subject teachers, sometimes it is a bit challenging to plan a decent learning program at the end of the semester when everything is so hectic and kids are restless. This semester I tried something different with my 2nd graders and 4th graders. They enjoyed the last few sessions and I get to document the things we did together. A win win lesson plan!

Activity: Song poster

Year group: 2ND GRADERS (EFL)


  1. 3 copies of Eating the alphabets for each group. Preferably 1 between 2 kids


  1. glue sticks and scissors
  2. large posters/magazines/used textbooks
  3. ready-made posters by kids
  4. OUP everybody up material

Teaching goal:

  1. kids can start to read English books other than textbook
  2. kids can acknowledge/relate food from different parts of the world
  3. kids can start to do independent search for unknown words
  4. kids can help out each other in the process


weekly round up-some successful tricks/activities

Another week passed and I’m about to start booking the accommodation for my summer trip in U.K. Very much looking forward to it but  work has to be done before play starts:-) So here are some quick note of the little activities I enjoyed with my little friends recently.

Activity 1- crossword for catch-up program

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It was the week of the midterm. I figured kids would need to stretch out a bit after a long day, so we have a crossword card game together. The word cards are from the textbook we are using and I often found packs of them left behind by kids after class. I collected them in a box and have kids categorize them. The blank ones are wild cards. I have 14 kids in this catch up program and most of them shown high interest in this game.

Some variations I did during the process:

1. I have kids pair up since some of them tend to be stuck quite often. Pairing up seems to motivate them more and encourage team spirit at the same time.

2. Later on I have each pair to start their own game and see who gets bigger ‘territory’. They seem to strive on that though they apparently need more work on their vocabulary.

3. Organizing word cards can be a pain in the neck sometimes but you can turn this tedious job into a learning game as well. Have them pick out all the vowel cards or have them sort out the word family letter pairs and bag them (you do the talk, they do the work and learning:-). You can make a list of how you want them to organize the cards and have teams race against each other to see who gets to finish the task first.

Activity 2- the brown bag game

We were covering the vocabulary of stationery. I have several items(eg. pencils, erasers…) in a McDonald bag and have my 2nd graders to guess what’s inside the bag. I get to use a lot of English that is not in the textbook yet can be heard and said everyday. This is a perfect scenario for promoting L1 in the class.

To start the conversation, I have kids feel the item through the bag. You can highlight the word ‘feel’ and ‘shape’. I even brought in the question ‘Do you need a hint?’ and after a few rounds some kids started to say ‘老師給我們一個hint!’(Miss Tsai, please give us a hint!) Ha, love it when you see learning happens so naturally!

Possible themes to generate from this activity:

  1. Dialogue: Is it a …..? Is it round/triangle/square? / Can you write with/eat/play it?
  2. Vocabulary: food, clasrm objects, verb(write/eat/play/draw/color/…)

Activity 3- concentration on the letter A

I found this poster when I tried to declutter my clasrm last week. I must have copied the chant somewhere online and I used it in my 2nd graders this week. It was fun and brings out a lot of rhythm and phonemic awareness.

Here’s the chant:

Concentration on the letter A!

Apples begins with the letter a

Concentration on the letter B!

Banana begins with the letter b

and so on so forth…

At first I have kids clap their hands with me when we recite the chant from a to d, then I’ll start the question ‘what starts with the letter e?’when we do the E part. They started to understand the rules of the chant after a few rounds.

I’ve had several word/picture cards displayed on board and kids are to pick out the word/picture cards when I said ‘concentration on the letter __’

This is a great way to turn a chant to a game. I’ve had the poster displayed in the classroom so kids can use it as a reference whenever we have that extra 5 minutes!