Creativity in the exam classroom – Combining skills Pt1

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It’s been a month full of excitement for Greek TESOLers with two amazing conventions in Athens and Thessaloniki. For me, conventions are always a learning opportunity – a chance to broaden my teaching horizons, experiment with new activities, open the windows of my mind to new ideas and of course meet people I admire and respect.

This year, I had both the pleasure and honor to be presenting a workshop on how we can shake up the environment of the exam classroom and shape a class reality that can benefit both students and teachers. For those of you interested in creativity in the exam classroom, you can find the link to my ppt over here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2sNptTyBGHcM2ZwOVVETl95eG8/view?pref=2&pli=1

Although my workshop focused on the 4 main skills (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), I know how challenging it often is to work on all 4 of them separately. Since time is of the essence, here is a first look on how we can combine different skills.

Reading

  1. Reading + Speaking – Different resolutions debate: Hide the text’s ending and present your class with two different courses of action the main character could choose from. Ask them to choose Option A or B and then divide your class in two groups. Ask them to come up with reasons to support their choice and then hold a class debate on which solution is the best.
  2. Reading + Writing 1 (Thematic Vocabulary) – Word Magnets: Scientific texts are usually the most challenging to present in class. An interesting way to present new vocabulary and work on your students’ prediction skills is to use word magnets. The tool I love using for my magnets is this one: https://tripticoplus.com/?
  3. Reading + Writing 2 – Writing a new text: Tired of the gapped text activity? Once you finished working with the text, ask your class to write a new text using the gapped sentences only.
  4. Reading + Speaking – Interview: Ask them to write questions to interview the characters in the story. This could also turn into a speaking activity if you split your class to interviewers and interviewees.

Writing

  1. Writing + Speaking – Stage a 5′ -10′ Essay: This activity was inspired by a list of tips for writing a drama essay I found here (a great blog with lots of suggestions on drama activities). Group your students in teams of 3 and ask them to write a short  essay in parts. Then, have each one of your students assume the role of an essay part and act their essay out in class (introduction – main body – conclusion). The same activity could be used with story writing as well!
  2. Writing + Vocabulary -Creating a Writing prompt: Put words in envelopes referring to people, places and a type of writing (e.g. Wolverine, Aristotelous square, festival review). Then, ask your students to put themselves in the examiners’ shoes and write their own writing prompts.
  3. Writing + Reading -> Rewriting stories/fairy tales: Apart from practicing their reading skills, students also have the chance to add their own touches to the story and act them out in class, too.
  4. Speaking + Writing – Story cubes or Words/Story prompts in the bag – It’s as simple as it sounds! Students choose words/prompts from the bag and spend 5 minutes writing a short text with all of them.
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