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Often when you start a lesson there’s a bit of dead time; whether you’re waiting for all the students to arrive, or they’ve arrived but they’re still getting their stuff sorted out. You need something quick and snappy to get them focused. If you were lucky enough to see Eva Buyuksimkesyan at TESOL France you will have got a number of ideas for warmers, but I’d like to share a couple of things I did today using the whiteboard (credit to Jason Renshaw’s whiteboard challenge for inspiring these):

  • Guided whiteboard writing: write a word big in the middle of the board and ask your students to write words or phrases relating to that word. My choice of word? Snow! See what my students came up with:


  • Next up, I must credit my mentor who oversaw my teaching practice during my PGCE, Linda Ruas: get, can, put, set. Divide the board into 4 sections and write one of these words in each corner. Students then write phrases using the words (in any tense form):

Obviously, you could adapt this to use any four words in particular. They could be verbs, nouns, prepositions… there are a few possibilities.

Would be interested to hear if you have any quick fixes regarding boardwork activities =)

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5 Responses to Quick things first

  1. Lingüista says:

    Great idea, Mike, thanks!

  2. Hi Mike,

    Ever since I first read about Jason’s wandrous whiteboard I’ve been getting the students to write on the board at the beginning of a lesson. Sometimes it’s to spark off a conversation, others it’s to get them focussed on a topic.

    Today was a funny day as yesterday and tomorrow are both bank holidays. One of the girls turned up in a t-shirt covered in English news headlines. So I got the students to copy some of the headlines onto the board, I explained what some of them meant, and then they each had to choose one and make up a story about it. They were only very short stories made up on the spot but for young teens this can be quite difficult. And all because of a t-shirt… By the way, I don’t think she’ll dare wear it again!

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by sabridv, Mike Harrison. Mike Harrison said: Quick things first: wanderous whiteboard meets quick warmer [...]

  4. David Warr says:

    Hi Mike, the “can you…” section makes perfect plants. Looking at the one “can you drive a car?, you could add lorry, bus, tractor even. They might suggest “bike”, which would lead to “ride”, which could lead to horse, elephant etc.
    Do you have a projector in your classroom by the way?

    • admin says:

      Yes, that’s true. Part of taking pictures of the board is also going to serve me as a way to review language. I’ll certainly look to grow a few plants for the students in this class.

      Mike =)

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