Riddle Me This!

What’s bright orange, red, and yellow, full of marshmallows on sticks, and freezing to the touch? If you’ve read much of this blog, you know I like to use and share simple activities or classroom features that (a) are a source of high-interest, level-appropriate content in the target language and (b) easily engender conversation in the target […]

Optical Illusions

The last post celebrated the role mystery can play in language learning. Optical illusions present us with a genre of mystery that (a) holds almost everyone’s attention for a little while and (b) lends itself to using lots of high-frequency language structures. In addition to whatever words are relevant to a particular illusion, the discussion […]

Making the Most of Mystery

Last year, with input from students, I wrote a mystery one of whose central features is a small, sealed box that the protagonist finds and seeks to open. The desire to know what’s in the box plays a key role in propelling the reader through the story. Last night, I came across a brilliantly simple suggestion from Adam Beck (@BeckMonkeys) for making […]

How To Use Your Windows

I’m taking a sick day from skiing in Sun Valley. The upside is that I can finally write about windows, as promised in the last post, which dreamt of the ideal classroom. Through the window I can see one of my Happy Places–a snowy peak with a ski lift–from another: a quiet lodge with an oversize […]

Preparing a lesson vs Preparing yourself (#Teach2Teach Question 1)

This is a response to #Teach2Teach Question 1 from Garrett, about balancing “teaching” and “planning” (full question below). Special thanks to Amy Lenord and Karen Tharrington for starting the #Teach2Teach movement and to those who have responded to their call! Here is Garrett’s question: “How do all these teachers balance the workload between teaching and planning?  Now that I am […]

What You Can Do, I Can Talk About: Using students’ quirky skills to generate language

In the last post we talked about using party tricks as something to talk about in a target language. In a classroom setting, students’ special skills, including party tricks, are a compelling, useful source of content. Just like with a picture, movie, or story, the teacher can use students’ non-linguistic skills either to target specific linguistic […]

“Whatever” Works: Non-Targeted CI Lesson 4, “Frivolity Is the Mother Of Invention”

My second thought when I see this is “Think of all the classy waffles I could make.” This is the Pixel, a customizable waffle maker; you can create your own design by depressing any of the 81 squares. But my first thought is, “This is Non-Targeted CI gold.” That’s right, golden-brown on the breakfast table is straight gold an hour later. […]