Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TED-Ed On English

Here's a short list of some TED-Ed videos about the English language and literature that may be useful in class.


From The Writer's Workshop playlist, this one on apostrophes is particularly good. There are others on semicolons, Oxford commas, regular commas, and so on. We think this is great material for writing and grammar classes.


This video explores how the plural -s came into the English language. Many of the videos in the Playing With Language playlist explore English from a historical linguistics perspective, which may help students in more advanced levels make sense of the many irregularities in the language.


Teachers in reading classes may enjoy using videos from the Reading Between The Lines playlist. This video on tragedy helps students understand the components of the form and why its legacy endures - and the Walter White imagery drives the point home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Teacher Ideas: Travel Stories


It's summer so you and your students may have more wanderlust than usual. Encourage students to talk about their travels in class! Thank you to Kevin for another submission to the Teacher Ideas series (submissions welcome!)

Travel Stories, by Kevin Lathrop

I encourage students in level four Saturday to see learning English as an adventure. Not that they need such encouragement. To a one, Saturday students are fully aware of the challenges and embrace them wholeheartedly. Otherwise, they wouldn't be in class bright and early on a Saturday when they could be home taking a break from hard schedules. In level four Saturday students read and listen to and watch stories of people who have traveled to New York and other parts of the country from around the world. There is talk of differences encountered, surprises both good and bad, adventure. On the last day of the semester, students brought stories of their own travels.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Activity Roundup: 2 Kinds Of People, OldNYC, and It's All Greek To Me

Here are a few ideas to get you started in the summer term!


2 Kinds Of People is a blog created by an illustrator from Portugal. Every few days he (or she!) publishes a new illustration that divides people into two camps. Do you watch your favorite programs on a TV or a computer? Are you more analog or digital? The whole blog is lighthearted yet thought-provoking and full of fun conversation starters. Some ideas for teaching:

  • Assign different illustrations to different groups of students. Ask the students to work with their groups to write a description of the illustration, including what the key difference in the illustration is. 
  • Then, each group of students can select a person to describe the illustration out loud to the class. 
  • After each description, take a class poll. How many people eat their pizza crust first? How many people eat their pizza pointy part first?

OldNYC is a project that maps old photographs from the New York Public Library's Milstein Collection onto the layout of the city. Some ideas for teaching:
  • Ask students to think about their home, their workplace, or any other location they frequent. Have them find a historical photo near this location - then, have them take a photo with their phone of the same location as it looks today. Assign a compare and contrast essay describing the two photos.
  • Select the pin on the Brooklyn Bridge, and flip through the many photos in chronological order. Have the students tell the story of the construction of the bridge based on what they see in the photographs. (There's a lot of internet research that could be done to support this topic.)

Lastly, I created an activity to go along with a short clip from All Things Considered. This activity is appropriate for students in intermediate and high levels in any skill area, given that there is a focus on current events, vocabulary generation, vocabulary research, a common idiom, and listening comprehension.