Hi everyone, I will be presenting a workshop at the Southern cone Tesol Conference in Curitiba on 18 July at 9.45, room A2.  My workshop is called Design Thinking Activities for the ELT Classroom.  

Here is a blog post I wrote about Design Thinking.  https://www.newroutes.com.br/?s=design+thinking


Looking for activities to do in your lessons this week?  Check out these activities about sustainable actions:  http://blogdisal.com.br/site/encourage-sustainable-actions/





How about doing this experiment with your students?  https://www.facebook.com/inthenow/videos/1021426908007678/


CHECK OUT MY NEW BLOG POST AT DISAL ABOUT BRITISH SLANG:  http://blogdisal.com.br/site/british-slang-jane-godwin/







TIMING: 45 mins

AIM:  To read a short story and acquire new vocabulary.  To discuss gender identity.

Pre activity:  These words are all connected to lions.  Do you know what they mean?  If not, look them up in a dictionary or on google images. 

A lion pride
Lion´s den



Mane Long hair growing around a lion´s neck
A lion pride A social group that lions form
Cub A baby lion
Lioness A female lion
Lion´s den The shelter of a wild animal


While activity:

Read the story and then do the activity that follows.



I have never felt completely comfortable in my own skin.  Whereas other males fell in love with their manes as soon as they started to grow at the age of two, I hated mine. The others took advantage of the status symbol and flirted with the ladies.  They patrolled their territory walking up and down and swishing their thick manes from left to right.  I was different.  I couldn’t bear all that knotted hair under the African sun.

As is the custom for male lions, I was excluded from my maternal pride when I reached maturity at the age of three.  I became a nomad and roamed around sporadically.  Sometimes I was alone and other times I paired up with fellow cubs.  I was good at hunting as I was swift and agile.  However, my mane was always cumbersome and heavy.  It never felt part of me.

During the day, us lions like to nap and laze around.  As soon as the sun begins to set, the smell of our prey wafts towards us and off we go after the poor mortals.  One early evening, I was passing by a watering hole and saw a lioness with her three cubs.  Instinctively, I decided to approach them.  As I drew nearer, I noticed the lioness was bleeding quite heavily.  In fact, she could hardly hold her head up, let alone look after her pride.  I arrived on the scene to witness her passing.  Her eyes were wide open staring into space and her body motionless.

My first instinct as a male lion was to pounce on the cubs and kill them all, which is common behaviour of usurping males.  However, something inside me stopped me in my tracks.  I felt an overwhelming sense of maternal protection, even though these little ones were not mine.

I assumed the responsibility of the three cubs.  Every day that passed, we grew closer and I discovered I really did have a strong maternal side.  It wasn´t easy, but I tried to safeguard my new family against any possible danger.

One morning while looking for a new den, I heard a human´s voice nearby, “Look, John.  We finally found her!  The rare maned lioness!”

From that point on, I knew for sure I was no longer a male!

 Find six words in the text that match these definitions.  Afterwards, to make double sure you have the right words, find these six words in the wordsearch.

  1. To jump suddenly and grasp something/someone
  2. Walk in no particular direction
  3. To move something backwards and forwards and right to left (often related to hair)
  4. Heavy and uncomfortable
  5. To carry through the air (often a smell)
  6. Very fast






1.      Pounce

2.      Roam

3.      Swish

4.      Cumbersome

5.      Waft

6.      Swift



Post activity:

Discuss the following questions in groups of four.

  • Why do you think the lion found his mane cumbersome?
  • What do you think about stereotypes such as boys playing with toy guns and girls playing with dolls when they are young?
  • Do you think there are typical roles and professions for men and women in society?  If so, what would you say they are?  Do you agree with these divisions?
  • “Women wear trousers. Why don´t men wear skirts?”
  • Have you ever seen a film/TV programme/soap opera that addresses gender identity issues, such as transsexualism, non-binary gender, homophobia, etc? Tell your group about it.


LEVEL:  C1  TIMING:  45 mins

AIM:  To learn vocabulary related to a short story and discuss the topic.



Ask the students if they have ever had their shoes shined in the street.  If they have, what tools did the shoe shiner use?

Possible answers:  rags, cloths, polish, brush, a stool to sit on. 

While activity:

Ask the students to read the story called “Shiny Shoes” individually and do the matching vocabulary exercise.  Afterwards, they can compare their answers with a partner.  Give the students the answers (below).


Shiny shoes

Crack of dawn on a well-known street, a shoe shiner 1.perches on the lid of a wooden box in which he brought his tools: a couple of rags, black and brown polish and a horsehair brush. The first customer arrives and positions one foot on the upturned box like a proud 2.stallion showing off his masculinity. Chest expanded and head up. While waiting for the job to be done, this busy executive takes out his mobile and dials a number. He begins 3.bragging and boasting about the latest deal he has negotiated. Switching over to the other foot, the 4.well-turned-out male carries on the conversation looking around to see who is listening. After 5.tossing a coin into the shoe shiner´s cap, he is on his way.

The next one appears. Slightly more 6.dumpy and older than the last 7.punter. He places one 8.brogue on the pedestal and pulls out a newspaper to read from his pinstriped jacket pocket. The shoe shiner covers one shoe with polish and then brushes it vigorously. Up and down, backwards and forwards. Once the excess polish has vanished, he then starts sculpting the shoe with a cloth. Round and round in circular movements.  Five minutes pass and the shoe shiner waves his hand to show he has finished.

Looking straight ahead at eye level, a pair of red 9.stilettos is now coming in his direction.  Clickety clack.

“How much would you charge to make my shoes so shiny I can see my face in them?” says a 10.husky voice.

The shoe shiner runs his eyes up a hairy leg, a frilly skirt and a beehive hair-do framing a brightly coloured made-up face.

“Five soles.”

“Here´s ten for your good work”, exclaims the drag queen just having come from her cabaret act.

The shoe shiner beams.

Vocabulary exercise

Match the words from the story with their meanings.


1. perches throwing casually
2. a stallion a customer
3. bragging and boasting sounding low-pitched and slightly hoarse
4. well-turned-out short and stout (of a person)
5. tossing rests on a seat or object
6. dumpy smartly dressed, well-presented
7. a punter a male horse
8. a brogue a low-heeled shoe with decorative perforations
9. stilettos shoes with long, thin high heels
10. husky talking with excessive pride, especially about oneself



1. perches rests on a seat or object
2. a stallion a male horse
3. bragging and boasting talking with excessive pride, especially about oneself
4. well-turned-out smartly dressed, well-presented
5. tossing throwing casually
6. dumpy short and stout (of a person)
7. a punter a customer
8. a brogue a low-heeled shoe with decorative perforations.
9. stilettos shoes with long, thin high heels
10. husky sounding low-pitched and slightly hoarse


Post activity:

In pairs, ask the students to discuss the following:


  • What time of day does the story take place?  How do you know?

Answer:  Very early morning.  Crack of dawn.

  • Why do you think the first customer is compared to a stallion?

Answer:  Because of the position he is standing: chest expanded and head up with one foot raised showing off his masculinity.

  • Do you think there is any verbal communication between the second customer and the shoe shiner?  Why/Why not?

Answer:  Probably not, because the customer is reading his newspaper and the shoe shiner waves his hand to show he has finished.

  • Why do you think the shoe shiner beams at the end of the story?

Answer:  Probably because the drag queen pays some attention to him.  This seems not to be normal practice judging from the other customers.  Perhaps also because the drag queen gives him ten soles, which was the double of what he asked for.

  • Do you think the profession of shoe shiner is becoming a thing of the past? Why/Why not?

Students´ own answers.

  • How are shoe shiners treated in your country?

Students´ own answers.


LEVEL:  B1  TIMING:  45 mins

AIM:  To learn vocabulary related to a story which takes place in Brazil.

INSTRUCTIONS: Write the following words on the board: manicurist; elderly lady; red cap; petrol station. Ask the class what they think the connection could be between these words in a story. Ask the students to read Part 1 of the story called The Mystery of the Red Cap in a FREE e-book called Four Short Stories to Use in the ELT Classroom at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/587804.

After reading part 1, ask the students to discuss the two questions in pairs. Now ask the students to read Part 2 individually and answer the questions at the end in pairs. Go through the answers with the class and check if they have any doubts with vocabulary.  All the instructions are in the e-book.


LEVEL: B1   TIMING:  45 mins

AIM:  To learn vocabulary related to a story which takes place in São Paulo.

INSTRUCTIONS: Show the students a picture of a helicopter and a black box as below:

Image result for helicopter clipart                                   Image result for black box clip art

Ask the students what the possible connection could be between the helicopter and the black box in a story that is set in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Now ask the students to read Part 1 of the story called An Unusual Day found at this link https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/587804

It is a free e-book.  You just need to download it.

In pairs, the students should tell the story so far to their partner. Then, they should discuss what they think will happen next and how the story could possibly finish. Afterwards, ask them to read Part 2 and then talk to their partner again to check if their predictions were correct.



LEVEL:  A1   TIMING:  10 mins

AIM:  To practise “What is your name?”,  “My name is…”, “How do you spell that?”

INSTRUCTIONS:    This is a good activity for students who do not know each other in the first class.  Write the following model on the board:  “What is your name?”,  “My name is…”, “How do you spell that?” Ask the students to sit in a circle.  Sit with them in the circle and ask the student on your left “What is your name?” He/She should reply “My name is (their name)”.  Then ask “How do you spell that?”.  The student should spell his/her name.  While he/she is spelling it, ask the other students to write the name on a piece of paper.  The activity continues around the circle until everyone has had a chance to practise the questions and answers.  At the end, ask the students the names of all the people in the class.


LEVEL:  B2   TIMING:  30 mins

AIM:  To understand, practise and use 10 phrasal verbs in context.

INSTRUCTIONS: Give a copy of the worksheet below to each of your students to do.

1)  Read the phrasal verbs in the table to understand them better.

Phrasal Verb Meaning
HANG OUT Spend time relaxing (informal)
CATCH UP WITH Meet someone after a period of time and find out what they have been doing
GIVE (SOMETHING) UP Quit/stop doing it
CUT OUT Stop eating something (permanently or for a long time)
FIND OUT Discover
GET ALONG/ON Like each other
FALL OUT Argue and be on bad terms with someone
CLEAN UP Tidy/Clean
COME ACROSS Find something unexpectedly

2)  Now read the phrasal verbs in the following sentences and fill in the gaps.  Ask your partner the following questions and vice versa.  Try to use the phrasal verbs.

  • What do you normally do at the weekends?

I usually just h _ ng out with my friends. We go to the cinema or a bar. Unfortunately I don’t get the chance to cat _ h up with them often as we are all so busy with work.

  • Do you have a healthy lifestyle?

I don’t think I really do.  Something I definitely need to do is c _ t down on the amount I smoke, or even gi _ e it up completely. I would also like to cut o _ t red meat from my diet.   I fo _ nd out that both of those are unhealthy.

  • Do you like the place where you live?

Yes, I live with some college friends. There are several of us in the house so it is crowded, but we get _ long well so we have not had any serious problems. I f _ ll out with one guy who lived there because he played his music too loud, but he has moved out now.

  • Do you like to collect things?

Not anymore, but the other day I was cle _ ning up my room when I came _ cross an old album of football stickers. I used to collect them when I was younger.

Answers: hang; catch; cut; give; out; found; along; fell; cleaning; across.

3)  Fill in the gaps with one of the phrasal verbs from the box.


cut down on          hanging out           get on          clean up      


found out      gave up       came across              catch up


fell out          cut out


  1. I _______________ ______________ with Jenny really well.  We are best friends.
  2. I have a heart problem so I have to __________________ _________    ________ my cholesterol intake.
  3. I like ________________ __________________ with my friends at weekends.  We often go to the cinema.
  4. I hope to ________________ ___________________ with my brother this weekend. I haven´t seen him for ages.
  5. I had an argument with my colleague at work. I _____________ ______________________ with him. We haven´t talked to each other for a month now.
  6. The kitchen is in such a mess. I will have to _____________________ it __________ before we go out.
  7. I ____________________ ________________________ last week that I am getting a promotion at work.
  8. I _________________________ ______________________________ an old photo of my father yesterday. I hadn´t seen it for years.
  9. I´ve completely __________________ ________________________ meat from my diet.  I´m now a vegetarian.
  10. I __________________________ ___________________ the crossword in the end.  It was too difficult for me.

Answers:  1.  get on  2.  cut down on 3.  hanging out  4.  catch up  5.  fell out  6.  clean it up  7.   found out  8.  came across  9.  cut out  10.  gave up.

4)  Write about experiences in your life using the ten phrasal verbs.

 For example:  I am going home at Christmas.  I will catch up with lots of people there…


 LEVEL:  B2   TIMING:  40 mins

AIM:  To discuss the benefits of eating healthy food.  To understand a song related to this topic.

INSTRUCTIONS:  Write “HEALTHY FOOD” on the board.  Elicit some vocabulary related to healthy food from the students and write the words on the board.  E.g.  vegetables, fruit, fresh food, fish, etc.  Ask students what they think the benefits are of eating healthy food.  Show a picture of Jamie Oliver and ask the students if they know who he is (British chef and TV celebrity).

Give the following letter written by Jamie to the students to read.  Ask them to guess what numbers should be in the gaps.

Answers:  1.  forty two  2.  five  3.  two

Hi guys, Jamie here.

I urgently need your help to make a real difference. We’re currently facing a global obesity epidemic, with 1.__________ million children under the age of 2.___________ either overweight or obese across the world. The bottom line is the next generation will live shorter lives than their parents if nothing is done to rectify these alarming stats.

 So I’m asking that you do 3._________ simple things – first, please sign this petition to show your support for compulsory practical food education in schools across the world, then, most importantly, share it via your social networks.

 It’s essential that we arm future generations with the life skills they urgently need in order to lead healthier, happier, more productive lives. I passionately believe this is every child’s human right and I hope you agree.

 If you can help me get millions of people to sign this petition, we can create a movement powerful enough to force all G20 governments to take action. Food education will make a difference to the lives of the next generations, so please help. I can’t do it without you.

 Sign it, share it and let’s inspire governments to do the right thing.

 Big love

 Jamie Oliver x

Ask the students to discuss in pairs what the reasons were for Jamie writing this letter.  Answers:  to make people aware of the current situation of overweight/obese children; to ask people to sign a petition to show their support for compulsory practical food education in schools across the world and share this via their social networks.

Tell the students that Ed Sheeran wrote a song to make people aware of this food revolution that Jamie is passionate about.  Give each student a copy of the lyrics and ask them to fill in the gaps with the words they hear.  The song is at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpqM0WPjgt4

Ask the students to discuss their answers with a partner.  Play the song a second time so they can check. Finally, elicit the answers from the students and write them on the board.


FOOD REVOLUTION DAY SONG – JAMIE OLIVER. Featuring Hugh Jackman, Ed Sheeran, Professor Green, George The Poet, Paul McCartney, Jamie Cullum, Alesha Dixon & Jazzie B

My name is Jamie Oliver, I’m here to say

I wanna talk about Food Revolution Day

Half the world is starving with too little to eat

And the other half die from being obese

How people live the longest is they grow and they cook

Learn recipes from your parents or 1._____________

If you haven’t got a clue about the mess that we’re in

The answer lies here in the words that we sing


Feed the kids right through their stomach and minds


They deserve a better future but some people are 2._____________

It’s a revolution

Educate the nation with a song and a vision


Come on everybody, do the right thing, sign the petition

People in charge aren’t getting it right

Politicians don’t know and now they need to shed light

Don’t rely on the government to fix this plight

No country in the world has ever won this 3._________________

We’re the only ones who can save our lives

Click the link below for the petition to sign

It doesn’t take time so you need to just bear it

Do the right thing, sign it, share it


Feed the kids right through their stomach and minds


They deserve a better future but some people are 4._____________________

It’s a revolution

Educate the nation with a song and a vision


Come on everybody, do the right thing, sign the petition

Yeah, we all have a friend

Someone who’s there from the start to the end

Someone who’s there through the good times and the worse of it too

And guess what? That person is 5._________________

So from now on when you wake up, first thing you do

Make yourself a promise that you’ll eat better food

We better do what we can, this better reach somebody

Why? Cause you only get one 6._____________________

Don’t give up your day job, Jamie

I’m only joking, mate

It’s all for a good cause

We need a revolution, not devolution

Think of bad nutrition

This is a 7._____________________

People, can you see? Come on now



Feed the kids right through their stomach and minds


They deserve a better future but some people are 8.._____________

It’s a revolution

Educate the nation with a song and a vision


Come on everybody, do the right thing, sign the petition


1.       books

2.       blind

3.       fight

4.       blind

5.       you

6.       body

7.       revolution

8.       blind


Level:  B2   Timing:  20 mins

Aim:  to talk about living with less things, but having more quality of life.

Instructions:  Start the class by whispering the following question into a student´s ear “Could you wear only 33 items of clothing for 3 months?”.  This student should then repeat what you said into the next person´s ear and so on until your original question reaches the last student.  Ask this student what he/she heard and compare it with your question.  In English, this game is called  “Chinese whispers”.

Ask students to discuss the question in pairs.  Afterwards, give the students the following worksheet:

1.  Read the following description of a challenge set up by a writer and blogger.


Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.

The Rules

·         When: Every three months (It’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)

·         What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewellery, outerwear and shoes.

·         What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewellery that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)

·         How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.

·         What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

2.  Discuss the following with your partner:

a)  Which 3 pieces of clothing could you definitely not part with?  Why?

b)  Would this challenge work for you?  Why/Why not?

c)  Do you think you have too much clutter in your house/flat?   If so,  do you have any practical measures for decluttering?

d)  Do you agree/disagree with these statements?  Explain why.

  • SIMPLICITY = less stuff,  less work, less expense = more money, more time, more joy.
  • It´s the little things that make life BIG.
  • Owning less is better than organising more.

Based on http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/


LEVEL:  B1   TIMING:  20 mins

AIM:  To teach students (especially researchers) phrases they can use in the introduction of their academic papers.

INSTRUCTIONS:  Give a copy of the phrases below to each person.  Ask them to fill in the gaps.  After they have done this, ask them to compare what they wrote with a partner.  Give them the correct answers.    Tell them they can find more phrases for other sections of an academic article at:  http://www.phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk/


Fill in the gaps to form words.

The introduction

Recently, there has been w_d_  interest in …
In recent years, researchers have become  c_ns_d_ _ _ _l _  
interested in …
The possibility of  ….  has ge_er_ _ e d interest in …..
The effect of …. has been studied ext_ _ s_v_ly in recent years.
A l_ _g-standing problem has been to obtain more information on…

Topic generalizations

There is now much ev_d_ _c_  to support the hypothesis that …
It is g_ _ _r_ _ _ y accepted that…
Education core courses are of_ _ _ criticized for ….
There is now much evidence to s_pp_ _ _ the hypothesis that…

Showing weaknesses in previous research

However, this view is ch_l_ _ _ g _ d by recent data showing…

N_ _ _ rth_l _ _ _, these studies have failed to recognize the…

Showing an unfilled research niche

X…has been extensively studied. However, l_ s _  attention has been paid to…
D_spit_  the importance of…, few researchers have studied…
Research has t_ _d_d  to focus on…rather than…

Outlining Objectives

The p_ _ _os_  of this investigation is to…
The a_m  of this paper is to …
The ob_ _c_i_e  of this study is to elucidate…

Organization of the article

This paper is st _ _ct_ _ _ d as follows ….

The r_ _ _ _n d_ _ of this paper is divided into five sections. Section II describes…

 ANSWERS:  wide; considerably; generated; extensively; long; evidence; generally; often; support; challenged; Nevertheless; less; Despite; tended; purpose; aim; objective; structured; remainder.


4 thoughts on “ACTIVITIES”

  1. Hi Jane!

    First I’d like to congratulate you on your Talk in Braztesol.
    I’ve attended it and learned a lot . I’m really interested in multiplying your ideas.
    Would it be possible? Where can I find those examples you’ve shown in the slides.

    Hope to hearing from you.

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