LOW PREP lessons, all in one place

I love lessons and activities that yield high payoff with little or no preparation. I like them even better if they are easily scaled or repeated. As the school year draws to a close, I’ve been seeing lots of requests for such activities, which are, of course, useful not just at year’s end, but all the […]

Good Idea / Bad Idea (Activity + Add-On)

Here’s something you can use as a freestanding activity or as an add-on to almost anything you do in a language classroom. It doesn’t get much simpler: Good Idea / Bad Idea (freestanding version) All you do is a say a sentence in the target language. All students do is say whether it represents a good […]

Using Stock Photo Sites To Generate Language

Consider this picture. Think you could come up with something to say about it in your students’ target language? Think you could ask questions about it that your students could answer? I know you can. A quirky picture is just the thing for getting a lot of bang for your buck when you want students to […]

Justin’s Lesson Plans from NTPRS 2015, Buy-In Guaranteed

NOTE: This post is a feature-fest based on a jam-packed conference presentation. Please feel free to skip around! To me, the perfect lesson plan is one that guarantees buy-in by students, requires little to no preparation, is enjoyable for students and teacher, is flexible and repeatable with the same group of students and across levels, […]

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 […]