Scrap paper energisers

I presented this workshop at the TWIST 2016 conference in Warsaw, and I’ve just realised I never put it on my blog. Better late than never!

About my presentation

Every staffroom I’ve been into has a huge pile of scrap paper in it somewhere. We’re responsible for the death of a lot of trees! Don’t let those deaths be in vain: try these activities to energise your classes, diminish the pile and assuage your guilt.

Here’s a pdf of all of the activities:

Here are links to all posts tagged ‘scrap paper’ on my blog.

My’ ideas/activities

The ‘my’ is in inverted commas, because they’re probably adapted from activities I’ve learnt from other people. If you think that person was you, please do comment!

Do you like…?

Good for: getting to know you, introducing functional language, extending conversations

  1. Give each student a piece of scrap paper.
  2. They write three things they like, e.g. chocolate, taking photos, learning languages.
  3. When they have finished, they screw up the paper and throw it towards a spot you indicate.
  4. Elicit and drill the phrases: Do you like…? What about…? And…? along with the answers: Of course, who wouldn’t? and Sorry, no.
  5. Demonstrate the activity. Take one piece of paper from the pile, open it, and ask a student the first question, e.g. Do you like chocolate? The student should choose one of the two answers. If they say Of course, who wouldn’t? ask the next question. If they say Sorry, no move on to another student and restart the process. Stop once you’ve demonstrated with two or three people (and hope you don’t get it right first time!)
  6. Students take one piece of paper each, exchanging it if they have their own. They mingle and find the person who’s paper they have, writing their name on the paper. Once they have both found their person and been found, they can sit down.
  7. As a follow-up, students work in pairs, telling their partner who they found out about (preferably without looking at the paper).

Russian roulette

Good for: revising vocabulary, testing what students already know, last-minute cover lessons

  1. Choose a category, e.g. food.
  2. The teacher writes down (in secret) a word from this category on a piece of scrap paper, e.g. apple.
  3. While doing this, students work in small groups to brainstorm as many words as they can in this category, writing them on scrap paper, and try to guess which word the teacher has.
  4. Nominate one student from one group to say a word. If it’s the same as your secret word, they lose a point. If it’s different, they gain a point.
  5. Continue with other groups. If they repeat a word or can’t think of one, they also lose a point.

Adapted from Lindsay Clandfield, TEFL Commute podcast, season 4 episode 2: Substitute.

Head drawing

Good for: revision of vocabulary sets or prepositions, introducing a topic, speaking practice, laughter!

  1. Give each student a piece of A4 scrap paper. Make sure they have something to lean on.
  2. Students put the paper on their head. They can’t look at it.
  3. Dictate a scene to the students. To make it more challenging, move around the picture. For example:
    My living room is large and rectangular. In the bottom right corner if you look at it from above there is a door to the hall. The door to the balcony is in the top left corner. Next to the balcony door there are two windows, also on the left-hand wall. In front of the window there is an armchair. Facing the window is a fireplace. In front of the fireplace is a table with four chairs. Under the window and next to the armchair there is a small square coffee table, with another armchair on the other side of it. The bottom wall, near the door to the hall, has a sofa next to it.
    [Other possible topics: a monster/robot, a Christmas scene, a desert island…]
  4. Students compare their pictures and try to remember the teacher’s description.

Error correction running dictation

  1. Throughout the lesson, collect some of the mistakes the students have made. Write each one on a piece of scrap paper with enough context to make it easy to work out what the correct sentence should be. If you want to, include some examples of good language.
  2. Stick the paper to the walls/board on one side of your classroom. Arrange the students on the other side, so the room looks something like this:
Six columns, each with a seated student at the top, a table below them, and a circle to denote a running student below that. The bottom of the image shows three texts for them to run to

3. When you say go, the running student goes to one of the errors, remembers the sentence, runs back and dictates it to their partner as is. Once they have done this for half of the errors (e.g. four out of eight), they switch roles. When they have finished all of them, they work together to correct the errors.

4. When finished, allocate one error per pair. They should write the correction on the paper they dictated from. After you’ve briefly checked them, pairs walk around to confirm they were right.

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