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A bit of this, a bit of that

How to survive the Exam Marathon?

Are you the High School Final Matura Exam or E8 examiner? Are you thinking about becoming one but you have no idea what it is actually like to be one? Are you wondering whether it is worth it or not? Well, here is my very subjective opinion on the work of the examiner. And I do have a long and rich experience working as an examiner of both matura (basic and extended) and E8 (also Junior High School) exams.

First of all, you have to be aware that in order to become an examiner you have to take part in a workshop that lasts the whole day or two and to pass the exam at the end of it. The exam is very practical and checks if you can grade the students’ writing tasks objectively and according to the rules and requirements. If you pass the exam, you become an outright examiner, with a beautiful certificate and your own CKE number. Isn’t it wonderful?

But if you think it means that the CKE will trust you and assume you are a good examiner (after all they taught you, checked your skills and knowledge and gave you this honourable title, right?), you may be slightly disappointed. Actually, you will have to prove a couple of times every single year that you are worth the privilege by writing additional quizzes. So don’t be surprised or shocked. Enjoy every chance to show your real worth and don’t give up.

If you are persistent enough and willing to take part in the Exam Marathon after all, this is what you should remember about in May:

  • forget about the weekends in the next two or three weeks. No picnics, no bikes, no family life, no time for preparing lessons for the coming weeks, no rest. But come on, you are a tough guy anyway.
  • forget about a decent pay rise (this year it is a couple of groszes per test which, considering the inflation rate, is a joke). Keep in mind your mission, torch for education and so on.
  • remember to buy a set of things which are an absolute must while checking the tests: a pen with some black ink (there are a lot of papers to be signed, numbers and codes to be written down, signatures to be left, etc), a pen with erasable blue ink and pen refills (to check the papers with), a pair of scissors (to cut the safe envelopes), a black marker pen to paint out the little squares and a printed set of requirements and rules. No surprises here – teachers have always been their own suppliers.
  • remember to bring something to eat and drink as well. If you forget about it, you will end up checking the tests for 10 hours without a drop of water or a bite of bread. In my case that would mean a splitting headache, irritation and the lack of concentration. So I usually take a thermal mug with coffee or tea, water and some juice. Some examiners bring their own kettles, too. For eating, I do recommend all kinds of finger food – not to waste your precious time which can be spent on checking the papers.
  • remember to bring some paper tissues and a disinfectant as well. There is usually some toilet paper and soap at the beginning of the first day of checking but I wouldn’t count on them in the afternoons or on Sundays. Basic needs? Come on. Teachers are sacrificers.
  • develop your own checking system which will make your work a little bit more automatic. I usually start with dividing the tests into those written by dyslectic and non-dyslectic students. Then I divide them into topics. The next step is signing all the papers, writing the numbers and codes. Then there is grammar checking, essay checking, painting the little squares out and finally writing down the results. Oh, and don’t forget to count the papers after you take them out of the envelope and before putting them back again. If you decide to give a student 0 points, make sure the PKE checks if you are right.

And now, the most important thing of all is that you MUSTN’T forget it’s a student who is your priority. While checking every single work, keep it in mind. If you have any doubts whether you understand what the student has written, whether it is even in English or whether you should give any points for it or not, follow the following universal piece of advice. Make it your mantra from now on:

‘If you have a titchy suspicion that a student was just considering attempting to convey the embryo of his thought, do not hesitate – give them a point. Such efforts have to be awarded.’

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Grab it, teach it - ready lessons

Blue Monday

The third Monday of January is considered to be the most depressing day of the year. But does it really have to be so blue?

This is a lesson that involves a lot of speaking, a reading on different colour idioms and some tips on how to beat the blue Monday blues. Hope you’ll enjoy it and make blue Monday a little more colourful.

https://bit.ly/322QJkK_DEAL

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A bit of this, a bit of that

Matura Christmas Set

Ho Ho Ho, Christmas is coming. And because it’s 6th December tomorrow, I have a little MikoĊ‚ajki present for you. I know oral matura exam is not compulsory this year but isn’t teaching a language about practising communication skills after all (no matter the exam structure and requirements)? I prepared a version for a teacher and student so your students can actually work in pairs. I hope you will have a lot of fun, I mean ‘Christmas is coming’ fun.

https://bit.ly/3Dl3iV7_DEAL

Categories
Grammar rocks

Past Tenses

This is a presentation on the revision of the following Past Tenses: Past Simple, Past Continuous and Past Perfect. It’s in the form of Mind Maps to be completed by your students. The students have to think about the usage, structure and characteristic words of each tense. Then there is some speaking practice after each tense.

This is the second part of the series. The first part is entitled Present Tenses and it’s already on my blog. The last part on Future Tenses is about to be published soon. Hope you’ll like the whole pack.

https://bit.ly/3rk3W2L_DEAL

Categories
Grammar rocks

Present Tenses

This is a presentation on the revision of the following Present Tenses: Present Simple, Present Continuous and Present Perfect. It’s in the form of Mind Maps to be completed by your students. The students have to think about the usage, structure and characteristic words of each tense. Then there is some speaking practice after each tense.

I hope you will like it cause I’m preparing (with my students) the next parts on Past and Future tenses. Let me know in the comments if you would like me to share the other parts with you too.

https://bit.ly/3uqQ2M4_DEAL

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A bit of this, a bit of that Ready, steady, go - the power of warm-ups

Ready, steady, go

It’s almost the beginning of the school year. I hope you are relaxed and enthusiastic about new challenges. I do love the first lessons – making new relationships, students revealing secrets about their passions, observing different personality types in one group, a little bit of stress but also new opportunities. There is some mystery and promise in the first days of September.

In order to make the whole year successful, you need to get to know your students and let them learn a little bit about one another and you. Here are a couple of activities I’d like to share with you today which you can use during the first lessons with your teens and adults. I love those exercises because they are simple, they are fun, they make your students speak English from the very first minutes of the lesson and they demand little or no preparation. They are perfect icebreakers that can lead to or follow the needs analysis.

THIS IS ME…/THIS IS NOT ME… – THE POWER OF PICTURES

All you need is a set of photos. I love using Dixit or Imaginarium cards because they are less obvious, more abstract, and thus more fun. But if you have an elementary group or teach smaller children, you may use less mysterious photos. Each student chooses two cards: one which says ‘This is me’ and the other one which says ‘This is definitely not me’. And then he/she explains how the cards are connected with their personality or passions or the other students have to find out the connections by asking the student questions about the chosen cards. You probably already know this exercise but have a look at my variation of this activity below.

THIS IS ME…/THIS IS NOT ME… – THE POWER OF THINGS

This time the students bring two items to school. The idea is exactly the same as in the previous activity. The students’ task is to prepare a short story or description connected with those items. You may also ask the other students to predict what those items could mean and which one completes the phrase ‘This is me’ and which one is an example of the phrase ‘This is not me’. Encourage your students to bring less obvious objects so that it was not so easy to guess the meaning. Once I brought a needle and some thread to class. On the one hand, it meant I am not an artistic kind of a person, I can’t embroider, knit, crochet, sew, etc. But on the other hand, it meant I’m not a very patient kind of a person, I hate waiting, I make up my mind very quickly. And I told my students a story illustrating this personality trait of mine.

THIS OR THAT?

This is a well-known activity but I love it because it makes your students move, it is a lot of fun and students always look backwards to see who is similar to or different from them. You ask your students to stand one behind the other facing you. And then you ask them questions such as: Tea (pointing to the left) or coffee (pointing to the right)? Mountains (pointing to the left) or sea (pointing to the right)? And the students (and you) move one step to the right or left (or stay in the middle cause they love or hate both). You may also ask more serious questions in order to analyse the students’ needs such as: Homework or no homework? Book or authentic materials? Speaking or writing (with a scared face)? Listening or reading (with a happy face)? I usually end this activity with: Stay at school or go home? The bafflement on my students’ faces – priceless!

LIE, LIE, LIE

This is a variation of the game ‘Two truths and a lie’. Students pick a question or topic. Their task is to answer it in 1-2 minutes but they can only lie, nothing they say can be true. Although it seems quite easy, in fact it is not because in 2 minutes they have to give many details. Give it a try, I’m sure your students will have a lot of fun.

WHAT QUESTION DO I HAVE ON MY BACK?

It is a task for definitely more advanced students because they will have to try to answer the questions not revealing much information, not answering them directly. You will need one question per one student in class or group. You attach one question to each student’s back so that they couldn’t see it. The students walk in class and answer the questions on their friends’ backs not mentioning the key words. The task of each student is to guess their own question on the basis of the answers given to him or her by a couple of students. You could ask questions such as:’ Would you like to have your tattoo made, why, what kind and where?’ The answer could be: ‘Black because it’s classic. The place is not so important but I’m afraid of pain so it can’t be a very sensitive area. I’m not interested in any quotations, that’s for sure. So maybe the face of Hemingway? I love his books.’ The other questions could be: Who is the most difficult person to buy a Christmas present for in your opinion and why? Do you agree that a real man should never cry? Why/Why not? What book would you take to the desert island and why?, etc.

LET ME SEE…

This is a variation of the game ‘Personality test’ that you can find in one of the books with the ‘Recipes for tired teachers’. You show your students the following or similar table (slide 1), you ask them to draw 9 separate pictures not connected with each other but including the given elements in their notebooks. The pictures don’t have to be beautiful or very detailed but they must present something that can be identified. Once every student has finished, put them in pairs, tell them that one of them (in each pair) is going to be a psychologist and interpret the personality of the other one on the basis of their pictures. Only then do you show them slide 2. Tell the students their task is to interpret, so if someone draws a flower in the space ‘This is how you see yourself’ it’s not enough to say ‘You are like a flower’ – they have to think what it could mean – maybe you are cute, gentle, it’s easy to hurt you or you are full of energy when it’s hot and sunny. Then students swap roles – the other one is a psychologist. At the end you ask your students to share one idea with the rest of the class about what they have learnt about themselves from their psychologists. They may choose the interpretation they totally agree or disagree with, the one which was the most surprising or the most freaky one or the one they would like to be true. In this way the students decide what and how much they want to reveal about themselves. I’ve tried this activity with teens and adults, with different level groups and with new and old classes. Always had a lot of fun!

https://bit.ly/3gfjtea_DEAL

No matter what activities you choose to start your new year with, I do hope you will succeed in making and developing strong and friendly relationships with your students. Because that’s what the first lessons are all about – not teaching, giving homework, testing or assessing but getting to know each other, having fun and tightening bonds. Have a great year everyone!

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Grab it, teach it - ready lessons

Cockney Slang

I’ve always been fascinated with the cockney rhyming slang. It is simply so much fun. And this is what learning and teaching English is actually about, isn’t it? I know cockney is not the most useful thing in the world but it’s almost the end of the school year so what about just having a little bit of relax and pure joy of playing with the language? I hope you and your students will simply enjoy this lesson. Let me know if you liked it.

http://bit.ly/3yPAp2g_DEAL

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A bit of this, a bit of that Grab it, teach it - ready lessons Ready, steady, go - the power of warm-ups

Revision Set

This is a huge revision set which you can use with your teenagers before different kinds of exams (E8, basic and extended matura, FCE, etc) as well as with your adult students. It consists of 14 parts, each one corresponding to a different exam topic: Man, House, School, Work, Social Life, Food, Shopping, Travelling, Culture, Sport, Health, Science and Technology, Nature, Crime and Society. In each part you will find 4 tasks: – SNAP: a picture connected with the topic, – VOCAB: eight words or expressions connected with the topic, – CREATE: a photo and a question or writing task – STORY: a topic for story telling

This is a very universal set. And because of it you can adapt it easily to the level of your students and your needs. You may use a certain part as a warm-up only or use it as the basis of your whole lesson. The SNAP and VOCAB tasks are just photos and words or phrases on different levels. So it’s totally up to you and your creativity what you decide to do with them.

I hope this will help you have very effective and enjoyable revision lessons with your students. Let me know whether you have found the ideas useful. So help yourself and bon appetit!

http://bit.ly/3v1zBoA_DEAL

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A bit of this, a bit of that Grammar rocks Vocabulary with a twist

E8 Revision Flippity – 2

Here is the second part of the revision game for E8 and basic matura students who want to practise grammar and vocabulary. This time we are revising the following topics: Travelling, Culture, Sport & Health, Science and Technology, Nature, Crime and Social Life. Have fun.

http://bit.ly/2RxvlyA_DEAL

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A bit of this, a bit of that Grammar rocks Vocabulary with a twist

E8 Revision Flippity

It’s already April but there’s still plenty of time to revise before the exams. It’s a game you can play with your E8 and basic matura students to revise vocabulary and grammar of the first seven exam topics: Man, House, School, Work, Social Life, Food and Shopping. Have fun.

http://bit.ly/3wuH9S9_DEAL