5 Engaging Ideas to Test Before the Next School Year

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” —Albert Einstein

As many of us end the semester with this year’s students, it is important to take time to reflect on our teaching year and celebrate the magical moments. We should also think about the ways we will improve our instructional practice next year.

Below are 5 ways innovative teachers are improving their curriculum to better engage their language learners. Test out a few of these ideas over the summer to decide which you would like to try next year.

1. Visual Sketchnoting

Sketchnoting is becoming the most popular way to take notes. Learners sketch out their notes, highlighting the main points and ideas they took away. They transform their notes into artworks by using various colors, lettering, icons, shapes, arrows, doodles, and drawings. Be inspired by the sketchnotes of language teachers, Sylvia Duckworth and Silvia Tolisano who also share how to begin sketchnoting. Find more resources in my note-taking bookmarks, including one of my favorite sketchnotes by Rebeca Zuniga based on Rusul Alrubail’s article, Blogging for English Language Learners.

Sketchnote on paper or on a tablet using various apps like Paper 53, Bamboo Paper, Inkredible, and Adobe Ideas. Use a stylus pen to easily write on your tablet. You can make one or find some inexpensive ones on Amazon. Try sketchnoting a Ted Talk, an article you’ve recently read, or podcast. Sketchnoting is a wonderful way to get your creative juices flowing and is brain-friendly. You don’t have to be an artist. Feel free to share your sketchnotes with us by leaving a link in the comments section.

2. Digital Badging

If you’ve ever been part of the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, you will remember the excitement of receiving a patch marking your achievement of a skill. Teachers are using the same principle to motivate their learners to practice their english outside the classroom by giving them badges for different tasks like sketchnoting or playing a language game. Try creating a badge for tasks assigned as participation or extra credit. Use tools like Open Badges, Credly, and Makewaves to create and distribute badges. Find more resources in my Digital Badging bookmarks. If you are on Twitter, join us for #Badgechatk12 on Monday’s at 6pm Eastern. Don’t forget to share your digital badge with us in the comments section.

3. Curation

Get your students to present their research as visual masterpieces. Students can use free tools, like Blendspace, Educlipper, Pinterest, Scoop.It, and Storify to bookmark and categorize videos, articles, pdfs, images, and audio pertaining to a topic. These tools take social bookmarking and research to the next level by allowing students to place their research in the order they like within a board or gallery. These galleries display videos and images of the research and are visually pleasing. Use one of these tools to curate resources for a topic or unit. Share your gallery or board with us in the comments section. Discover more ways to help your students become digital researchers in this post, Research Writing with Digital Tools.

4. Infographics and Infopics

Data visualization helps language learners comprehend research, science, or math. With tools like Piktochart and Canva you can create visual posters of your data or any information. Try creating an infographic for one of the topics or display the class rules or netiquette as an infopic. Find inspiration in my Infographics bookmarks. Feel free to share your infographic with us in the comments section. In class, try having your language learners create a survey and display the results as an infographic.

Check out ESL Library’s Visual Learning posters

5. Coding

Many schools are getting students to learn to code and program. Students learn how to give instructions by creating code and seeing the instruction come to life. Students can create games and learn code with programs and sites like Scratch, Hopscotch, Code Monkey, Code.org, and Code Academy. Try creating a game with code and share it with us in the comments section. In class, have your students create games for their peers to play.

Which idea will you try?

If you want to receive more of Shelly’s tips for online resources for teaching English, check out these posts!

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