Monday, September 30, 2013

Roll a story

This kind of activities are suitable for those who have no idea about a story line but want to be creative. 

Directions: Roll the dice THREE times, once for each column, to mix-and-match different story elements. Record each story element on the graphic organizer, along with any additional ideas.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What I have learned from NECTFL conference

The Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages was held in Baltimore from March.7 to 10. I have attended the conference in my student rate. And I would like to share my experience and what I have learned from the conference.

The first impressive session I went is a Mead Fellow Session: Teacher Training Program for Teaching Chinese as a Second Language. Actually its targeted audience is higher education teachers. But I also benefited from this session from his culture shock part. The presenter illustrated the differences between Chinese classrooms and American ones from the aspects of school law, privacy, sensitivity, instructional changes, etc. 

The second session is The Zen of Content-Based Language Teaching. I did not get any idea before I got to the session. What is Zen? What! Students could understand Zen before they have a higher proficiency of Chinese? Ms. Lin told me that it is totally a success. They knew that. They can learn Zen and they felt the classroom environment is really relaxing. What is Zen? Zen is eating, sleeping, washing dishes, wearing cloth. Zen is everything. Also, there are many activities that the teacher uses in her classroom. I wanna explain two of them. The first is creating Chinese Haiku by students. Here are requirements for Chinese Haiku: three lines; rhyme is not necessary; not limited to the number of words; express Zen spirit. Ms. Lin also gave us some examples from their students' free style Chinese Haiku.
1. 你让泡绑你

2. 找不到宝贝

3. 如果你要成佛

4. 安心后

5. 我见山,是山

6. 不说也是说,不做也是做

The second one I wanna share is skit. It is an interesting part for college students. Ms. Lin asked students to record their video outside the classroom and show the video in the classroom.

Another session I would like to share is Integrating 21st Century Skills into Standard-based Chinese. As a graduate student now, I know standard-based, which is 5Cs. But I never know 21st century skills. They are Life and Career skills; Learning and Innovation skills; Information, Media and Technology skills; and Core subjects and Themes. 

NECTFL Teacher of the Year Session is so amazing. Ms. Lee showed us Chinese Teachers' Bag of Tricks. I like it. She described several game-like activities to us about how to motivate students and involve them. 
1. An ice-broke activity - create a book and self-introduce

2. Use a piece of paper to summarize what learnt

3. Build a house and introduce your family. You can use this in the family topic. This is really fun. 

4. Go Fish. Use these small cards to play "Go Fish". Everyone got 5 cards. One talks to whom next to her, "do you have football?" or "do you like playing football?". If the other doesn't have football in one's hand, one would say "no ,I don't like playing football.". And the first one get one from left cards. 

5. The same materials with the 4th. All cards should be face down. Flip one, and memorize it. The other student flip another one. If you remember that, flip two same. Another game is bingo game.

6. Wild wind blow. The teacher says "Wild wind blow, wild wind blow." Students ask "Blow what?" Then the teacher says "Blow whom wearing white clothes." Then those who wearing white clothes should stand up and blow to another place. The one who does not get a seat is out. 

7. Heart Attack. The teacher puts pictures on the desk one by one. But the teacher should say different words with the picture shows. Only if the teacher says the same words with the same picture. Students can put their hands on the picture and he owns all the pictures on the desk.

8. Body parts and position can be taught in this way!

Let's go through to another session. This session integrates technology to second language teaching. The first is sketchup, with which you can design a house or room by yourselves. The second one is Google map. You can show a trip in front of your students. The third one is iMovie/Photo story. You can create your own stories with audio, visual, etc. 

The next session I attended is from Noah Geisel, the Teacher of the Year by ACTFL. He described his culture and communities activities in his session. And now I'm considering a topic which combine culture and second language learning together. It's a wonderful and fun topic. Here is the link: here's Noah's culture RAFT:

Next I wanna share the session:Acquiring vocabulary: It's not just flashcard. Here 's the link:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Body parts activity - build a panda

Today I am teaching body parts to my students. In order to integrate culture to language teaching, I introduced panda to the whole class. They were all interested in panda. One of my students said that is that bear plus cat? Lol. 

Then, I told them to use their body parts cut to build a panda. Here are their masterpieces!!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Elmer the elephant craft

Elmer is a great book for kindergarten kids to read. It says how our differences make us great. But the most interesting part is the parade. Ask your students to make their own Elmer and other elephants and lead a parade!

Padlet Wall provides an electric wall for anyone to post any sentences, audio or videos. Students do not need to log in.

Pair Up Activities

1. Appointment book

A teacher friend of mine does an icebreaker at the beginning of the year called an "appointment book." It's like the bingo game, except kids have a sheet that lists the days of the school week. They have to find someone they don't know well and share...(fill in the blank, their favorite movie, their best day) etc. They must sign the same day on each other's pages. Once they are done playing, they must tape it into the front cover of their Interactive Student Notebook (or binder, or desk lid?).

Then, throughout the year, she says, "OK, now get with your Wednesday partner..." Everyone is matched and it is pretty random due to the nature of the icebreaker.

2. Index Card

One system that works well when you have a little time to spend (about 5 minutes to match them up) is index cards. I have a set of 36 cards I made at the begining of the year. I put matching stickers on every set of two cards and then I had them laminated.

I put them face down on the table and have them come up in groups to pick a card. They then have to find their sticker match. Simple and the kids seem to like it.

I use how ever [many] sets as I need depending on absent students. If I have an odd number, I put one odd card in the mix and who ever gets that card waits till the end and can pick which ever group they want to be in. 

3. Puzzle

A friend of mine gave me a cute idea. We usually work in 4's but you could do the same thing for 2's. She cut the beautiful pictures from an old calendar, had them laminated, then cut them into puzzle shaped pieces. 

4. Clock partner

I just recently started using "clock partners". I made a clock that has a line next to 3, 6, 9 and 12. Then students went around and chose people to be their 3, 6, 9 and 12 o'clock partner. Now it's really easy because I can just say ok, get with your 3 o'clock partner. 

To avoid complaning and all that comes with partners, as a class we created "partner rules" that are posted in the room at all times. Whenever I have an issue I refer to the rules and they know if they break one of those rules then they do not get a partner the next time we work together.

5. Snowball Fight

Use snowball Fight at the beginning of the class. And I am teaching a second language, so I will use a picture and a corresponding word to pair students up.

6. Shape partner

I have always taught lower grades and have used 4 shapes (circle, square, star, triangle) on a paper with a line next to them. At the beginning of the year, I had kids take their paper and fill in the partners. They could choose one person from their group (I usually group my desks into 4 or 5 in a group) but the other shapes had to be filled in from other groups. If I was your square partner, then we put my name on your paper next to the square and your name on my paper next to the square. It seemed to really help because I would say "find you star partner and do..." and it cut back on those responses, "I don't want to work with _________." 

7. Mingle mingle

We do "mingle mingle" from SPARKS (PE) curriculum. Basically, the kids all walk around and "mingle mingle mingle" (said like the tune of the conga line dance), and then I call out how they should group up or pair up "3 back to back, birthdays in the same month" or "pairs, wearing the same color shirt." Sometimes they get to choose, sometimes I choose the parameters. The kids love it, for the most part, and if they complain, I do not let them choose their own partners next time. When they have worked together well for many times in a row, I will let them mingle and choose their own partner another time. 

OR I will have them line up by age or birthdate or some other line, then pair them with the people next to them, or count off or something else.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ice Breaker Activities

1. Snowball Fight

Every adult who grew up with snow loves a snowball fight, no matter how old or young they are. Well, almost every one of them. This snowball fight doesn’t send icy shivers down the neck of your jacket or sting your face. It’s just fun, memorable, and effective. And you don’t need mittens. One, two, three…fight!

Ideal Size

This game would work with any size.

Use For

Introductions, recapping learning, quiz prep, or any time you need to “test” retention.

Time Needed

As long as you can stand it. 20-30 minutes is ideal.

Materials Needed

Paper from your recycle bin would be perfect if one side is blank.


If used for introductions, give each student a piece of paper and ask them to write their name and three fun things about themselves. Have them crumple the paper into a snowball. Divide the group into two teams on opposite sides of the room and let the snowball fight begin!
When you call stop, each student is to pick up the nearest snowball and find the person whose name is inside. Once everyone has found their snowman or snowwoman, have them introduce him or her to the rest of the group.
If used for recapping or test prep , ask students to write a question regarding the topic you want to review. Provide each student with several pieces of paper so there is abundant snow. If you want to make sure certain issues are covered, add some snowballs of your own.
When the snowball fight is over, each student will pick up a snowball and answer the question in it.
If your room accommodates this, it can be nice to keep students on their feet during this exercise since they’ll be picking up snowballs throughout it. Moving around also helps people retain learning, and it’s a great way to energize a classroom.


Debriefing is necessary only if you’re recapping or prepping for a test. Were all topics covered? Which questions were the hardest to answer? Were there any that were too easy? Why is that? Were they gimmes or was it because everybody has a thorough understanding?

2. People Bingo

Bingo is one of the most popular ice breakers because it’s so easy to customize for your particular group and situation, and almost everyone knows how to play it.

Ideal Size

Up to 30. Divide larger groups.

Use For

Introductions in the classroom or at a meeting.

Time Needed

30 minutes, depending on the size of the group.

Materials Needed

Bingo cards. See instructions below.


If you know your participants, make a list of 25 interesting traits that describe different aspects of them, things like, “plays the bongos,” “once lived in Sweden,” “has a karate trophy,” “has twins,” “collects children’s art,” “has a tattoo.”
If you don’t know your participants, make a list of more general traits like “drinks tea instead of coffee”, “loves the color orange,” “has two cats,” “drives a hybrid,” “went on a cruise in the last year.” You can make these easy or difficult depending on how much time you want the game to take.
There are lots of places online where you can type in your traits and print your own customized cards. Some are free; some are not.
  • Teachnology has a card maker that allows you to shuffle the phrases on each card.
  • allows you to customize with your own words or use their suggestions.
If you’re making your own, bingo cards have five boxes across and five boxes down. B-I-N-G-O! A simple table in Word does the trick. Fill in the boxes on a master and make copies. Leave room for signatures.

When you’re ready to play, give each participant a bingo card and a pen. Explain that the group has 30 minutes to mingle, introducing themselves, and finding people who match the traits on the card. They must put the person’s name in the corresponding box or have the person sign the appropriate square.
The first person to fill five boxes across or down yells BINGO! and the game is over.
Ask participants to introduce themselves and share one of the interesting traits they learned about someone else.

Sample Bingo Card

The image shown here may be difficult to read, but it gives you an idea of the layout of the card.


Debrief by asking for volunteers to share how they feel differently about the others in the group now that they know a few things about them. When we take the time to get to know each other, barriers dissolve, people open up, and learning can take place.

3. Marooned - Who Would You Take With You?

This ice breaker is a great introduction when people don’t know each other, and it fosters team building in groups that already work together. I have always found people’s answers to be very revealing about who they are as a person.

Ideal Size

Up to 30. Divide larger groups.

Use for

Introductions in the classroom or at a meeting, and as a team building exercise.

Time Needed

30 minutes, depending on the size of the group.

Materials Needed



Give people a minute or two to think about this question: If you were marooned on a deserted island, which three people would you want with you? They can be dead, alive, or imaginary. Ask participants to introduce themselves and share their choices with the group. Start with yourself so they have an example.


Hi, my name is Deb. If I were marooned on a deserted island, I would want Tim with me because he’s smart, strong, and fun, and I love him. He would know how to make a shelter and find food, and we’d have wonderful conversations. My second choice would be someone who tells great stories, like Garrison Keillor or Eoin Colfer. And my third would be Solomon Burke, the blues singer, so we’d have soulful music.


Debrief by asking if there were any surprises in the group and if anybody has a question for another participant. You will have listened carefully to the introductions. If somebody has chosen a person related in any way to your topic, use that person as a transition to your first lecture or activity.

4. Speed Dating - 2-minutes mixer

You may have heard of 8-minute dating, where 100 people meet for an evening full of 8-minute dates. They talk to one person for 8 minutes and then move on to the next person. Eight minutes is a long time in the classroom, so we’ll call this ice breaker a 2-minute mixer.
A 2-Minute Mixer is also a great way to prep for a test.
Ready? Go!

Ideal Size

This is a great mixer for large groups, especially if you don't require that everyone talks to everyone.

Use For

Introductions in the classroom or at a meeting, especially when you have space enough to move around.

Time Needed

30 minutes or more, depending on the size of the group.

Materials Needed

A clock or watch and a whistle or some other noise maker. You can also provide canned questions if you want, but it’s not necessary. Adults don’t have any trouble making conversation on their own.


Ask people to get up, pair up, and chat for 2 minutes with each other about whatever interests them. You’ll be the timer. When 2 minutes are up, you’ll blow your whistle or make some other sound loud enough for everyone to hear. When they hear your signal, everyone is to find a new partner and chat for the next 2 minutes.
If you have flexibility, allow enough time for everyone to have 2 minutes with every other person.
If using this at the beginning of a course or meeting, combine it with introductions. After the mixer, ask each person to give his or her name, and share something interesting they learned from someone else during the mixer.

For Test Prep

To use for test prep, prepare note cards with a test question written on each card. Distribute to students. While mixing, students ask each other their questions, and then move on when time is up.
One of the benefits of this exercise is that research shows studying in various locations helps students remember better. Chances are good that students will remember who they discussed a question with during the 2-Minute Mixer and recall the correct answer during the test.


This mixer doesn’t require debriefing unless you hear surprising anecdotes that relate to your topic.

5. Photo Scavenger Hunt

A picture is worth a thousand words. Almost everyone has a photo or two in their wallet or on their phone, especially when you’ve got a room full of adults, or even better, baby boomers with grandchildren. The photo hunt is on!

Ideal Size

Any size works.

Use For

Introductions in the classroom or at a meeting.

Time Needed

30 minutes; longer if you make a longer scavenger list.

Materials Needed

Scavenger hunt lists. Make your own and print the number of copies you need. Your list will look something like this:

_____ Blonde toddler

_____ Family portrait

_____ Senior portrait

_____ Graduate in cap and gown

_____ Child on a bike

_____ Family or lovers at the beach

_____ Baby’s first photo

_____ Family dog

_____ Family cat

_____ Twins

_____ Child laughing

_____ Child crying

_____ Grandparents

_____ Girlfriends

_____ Bride and groom


Hand out your scavenger checklists. Give the group 30 minutes to find someone with one of the photos on the list. Encourage them to find a new person for each item.
If using for introductions, ask each person to give his or her name and share which photo they liked best and why.