Looking backward and forward

It’s usually in January that we talk about that month’s namesake Janus, the Roman god who peers simultaneously into the past and into the future. Myself, I’m most drawn to that split gaze around the end of the academic year, when the events of this one are still fresh and the possibilities of the next burn bright. Whether you’re […]

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 […]

The Perfect Classroom

What do you love about your classroom? What do you hate about it? If you don’t have your own, what do you love or hate about the ones you travel to? I have to be honest: the only thing I’ve really loved about any classroom I’ve ever taught in is the students in it. Given that […]

“I don’t know how to teach” (#Teach2Teach Question 3)

This is a response to #Teach2Teach Question 3 from Jennifer, about troublesome experiences (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 Jennifer’s question: “What has been your most troublesome experience with teaching and how did you handle it?” It’s difficult to […]

9 Ways To Happify Your Class

Is your class a Happy Place? Your students don’t have to be happy, and they certainly won’t always be, but they’ll probably acquire language better when they are. Most of the reasons why a student would be unhappy are out of your control, but many aren’t. Here are some ways to happify your class in service of language acquisition. […]

A Celebration of Connectedness

The value of professional networks is so frequently touted that it seems almost abusive to mention it again. But I will, because this fortnight has been especially fun, illustrative of the quirky connectedness in the world of teaching and learning.  If the references or connections are insignificant to you, no problem! I’m thankful for and honored by them for their […]