The science and technology editors at The Atlantic magazine gathered together 83 of the most interesting facts that they had learned during 2018. I decided to show this list to my upper-intermediate and advanced ESL students and ask them to choose the five topics that they would most like to learn more about. A total of 18 students completed the task. Here are the topics chosen most often with the number of people who selected them in parentheses:
1. Some people think that quantum computing will bring about the end of free will. (5)
2. Don’t worry if you forget all the facts you read in this article by tomorrow—that’s normal. (5)
3. Thousands of horseshoe crabs are bled every year to create a miraculous medical product that keeps humans alive. (4)
4. Some people think tennis balls are green while others think they’re yellow, and the disagreement has a lot to do with how our brains perceive color. (4)
Seven topics received three votes, 14 received two votes, and 23 received one vote, meaning that 4 out of the 82 topics (one was deleted from the list) received at least one vote.
Kelly specializes in "alternative seating" and I'm a huge fan of hers. I dream of implementing her schemes in an adult English-learning environment. Visit her blog Coffee Shop Classroom.
I didn't create this game, but I've found that it's the best single ice-breaker for a new group. There is usually a good deal of tension on the first day of a class as the students size up each other and this new teacher, so a funny slant on a well worn activity is a good way to get the ball rolling and to let them know that I'm not afraid to mix things up.
My students have heard the term "poker face" and some of them can explain the concept. I tell them -- tongue in cheek, naturally -- that lying is a key to career success and a skill they need to polish if they want to get ahead. I ask them who has the best poker face. This inevitably leads to uncomfortable smiling (reverse psychology at its finest) and a disconcerting realization that the other students are going to be listening intently to their autobiography, and therefore they need to get these sentences right.
The exercise is simple: after watching the teacher demonstrate, each student writes down four sentences about themselves, of which three are true and one is a blatant lie. They then read the four sentences with their best poker face, after which the other students guess which one is the lie. Singing along with Lady Gaga is optional.