Activity Page

“Let’s Synthesize!”

by Meriç Gülcü

 Welcome back everyone! Well, another term has just started and it is that time of the year when most of us will be teaching 102. We have lots of serious stuff to teach and tons of papers to grade and let’s accept it: we all need to take some time out of our busy schedule to have fun and so do the students! Therefore, I want to share with you an activity I learned in one of the in-service training sessions at METU. I use it as a pre-writing activity right before I teach synthesizing but it can be used as a warm-up too. It works really well and I believe that it gives the students an idea about what synthesizing is in its general sense. So, here we go:

Level: Intermediate and above

Time: 15-20 minutes (but it can change according to the number of the students you have)


  • 5 or 6 A4 papers with pictures/drawings of everyday objects on them. You may choose any object that you like but I personally use the picture of an umbrella, a pillow, a mobile phone, a bottle opener and a tea cup (the more irrelevant the objects are, the funnier the activity gets). If you are good at drawing, you can draw them on the board as well.
  • Scotch tape

Before you begin: If you have time, you can ask the students to come up with a definition of synthesizing and elicit a few real, every day examples where we use synthesizing skills. Then, put the pictures of the objects on the board or draw them yourself.


  • Put the students in groups of 2-4 depending on your class size.
  • Ask each group to choose 2 objects and ask them not to tell the objects they have chosen to other groups.
  • Give the students a few minutes to think about the properties of these objects. They can brainstorm and take notes as a group as well. You may guide them with the following questions:
    • What do the objects look like? What are their physical properties?
    • How do these objects feel when you touch them? Are they soft, hard, cold, warm… etc.? Do they smell or make noise?
    • How do they make you feel? Happy, sad, relaxed… etc.?
    • What do they mean to you?
    • Why do we use them?
    • Do the objects have anything in common or are they different? etc.
  • Ask the students to “create” something new with their group members by combining the objects they have chosen. You can ask them to give a name to their new “product”. They should also think about its function as well. Remind them that they can draw it too.

At that point, I give them an example of “bopener phone” which is the combination of a bottle opener and a phone. It is a phone in the shape of a bottle opener and can be used in bars/restaurants as a decorative object.

  • Give the students 5 minutes to work in their groups.
  • When time is up, ask them to share their ideas and list them on the board. Later, they can vote and choose the most creative one. Depending on the time you have, you can ask the students to explain why they voted for that specific object.

This activity can be used with students at any age and level and they find it really enjoyable. It also links well to the next step where we focus on the “academic” side of synthesizing.

Here you can find the materials.

I hope you enjoy the activity as much as I do! J



by Burçin Hasanbaşoğlu

Discussion Bingo

Level: Intermediate and above

Materials Needed:  A Bingo card for each student

Preparation: First, introduce the discussion language to the students in the class. Then, prepare the Bingo cards by writing the discussion language in the grids (3×3 or 4×4). Duplicate the cards for each student.

Estimated Time: 50 minutes


  • Students work in groups of 5-6.
  • Give each student a Bingo card and tell them that they will play Bingo while participating in the group discussion.
  • Remind students of the rules of the game, Bingo, which are applicable to this activity:

When you discuss the topic, you will present your arguments. You may or may not agree with your friends. When you agree, you will show your agreement with the expressions used for agreement. And when you disagree, you will use the disagreement language. When you use these expressions, you will tick them off. When you use all the expressions on your card, all of them will be ticked off on your card. So you will shout “Bingo”.  

  • Give the class the topic. (E.g. The government must hire foreign doctors to provide a better service to patients.)
  • Groups play Bingo while discussing the given topic.
  • Closely monitor the groups.


  • You may first elicit the discussion language (i.e. the expressions used to show agreement and disagreement) and put them on the board. Then, you may give students a blank Bingo card and fill in the card with the expressions they would like to use in the debate. This will give students autonomy over the language to be used.
  • You may give students the expressions for agreement and disagreement as well as the expressions used while asking a question on slips of paper. Students in groups may first categorize them under “expressions used for agreement”, “expressions used for disagreement” and “expressions used for asking questions”. Then, they may select the ones they like and put them on their blank Bingo cards. In the photos below, you see this version of this activity.

  • You may prefer to give each student a different Bingo card with different expressions or the same Bingo card with the same expressions.
  • This Discussion Bingo might serve as a good vocabulary practice as well if you construct your Bingo cards with the vocabulary items you want your students to practice.

Personal Comment:

Students at any age find this activity enjoyable because this activity is game-like and they become so eager to use the words/expressions on the Bingo card that they do not feel inhibited while speaking.



Sample Bingo Card








by Elif Şeşen

As the add-drop period will soon be over and as our class lists are about to be finalized, you may now need an activity that helps students to get to know about one-another in a fun speaking session. This activity; therefore, tries to achieve 2 major objectives:

  1. To get students learn about their peers
  2. To make them speak in English for 2 full class hours

This is not a theme-related speaking session as students may find it hard to speak about theme related topics without doing some prior reading or research. This is, rather, students’ talking about themselves and; thus, requires no background or general knowledge.

You’ll see below in the attached document 22 questions followed by some related sub-questions and useful phrases students may make use of when answering those questions. Therefore, each card is composed of 3 sections:

  1. The main question
  2. Follow-up questions to keep students talking
  3. Useful vocabulary items or phrases

You can choose the questions you prefer or go with the whole document if you like. The number of question bags you’ll use in the class will also depend on the number of students you have in your classes. For a class of 24; for example, you may need 8 bags in which you can prepare 12-15 questions.

The activity proceeds as follows:

  1. Before you go to class, you need to prepare, for each group, a set of small question cards (preferably on colorful paper) and to put each set in one box or bag. For example, I asked my students to form groups of three and gave each group a bag full of questions on colorful paper slips. Students, in their group, take turns to choose one question from the box and start answering their questions. From then on, be ready for a noisy classroom!
  2. When you feel like they spend enough time in their groups, you can regroup the students so that they get together with new friends. What I did was to regroup 3 groups at the same time to prevent people from talking to people they’ve talked to before.
  3. When they change groups, make sure they leave their questions back in the boxes as we, definitely, don’t want questions to change bags to prevent overlap of questions.
  4. If students choose the same questions in their new groups, you can tell them to put them back in the box and go with the new ones.

Because there are always new people to talk to and new questions to talk about, this activity can last about 2 full class hours.

As a follow-up step, when we finished group chats, I asked the students to come up with one sentence that gave us information about one of the friends they talked to.  In other words, they chose a person from the class and told us something they learned about him or her.

Here I share with you the questions, and you’re welcome to use them in your classes 🙂

I would appreciate receiving feedback from you, if you use the idea :)Thank you!


by Burçin Hasanbaşoğlu


The input delivered in thick textbooks and long lectures fails to fully suit our students. It is because students today have shorter attention spans and they are mostly visual learners. They are “accustomed to the twitch-speed, multitasking, random-access, graphics-first, active, connected, fun, fantasy, quick-payoff world” (Prensky, 2001, p. 6). Thus, they find the traditional teaching formats a bit foreign, old-fashioned and tiring.

And this is where microlearning comes into play.

What is microlearning? “Microlearning refers to short forms of learning and consists of short, fine-grained, inter-connected and loosely-coupled learning activities with microcontent” (as cited in Buchem & Hamelmann, 2010, p. 2). The content delivered in microlearning is typically designed in rich-media formats to engage learners.

If microlearning is such an engaging medium, then why not make use of it for our students who are mostly visual? If microlearning gives information in chunks, why not make use of it for our students who have short attention spans?

After we were introduced to microlearning, we thought of some ways of incorporating this idea into our teaching. Then, we came up with the idea of TEACHING WALLS…

Our students come and visit us in our offices. They spend some time in the corridors. Why not turn this passive activity into a learning experience? For this, we designed and found on some educational websites some instructional posters, which seem to be in line with our courses’ objectives. The following are the topics covered in our posters:

  • Tips for a Good Essay
  • Proofreading Essays
  • Introductory Strategies for Essays
  • Concluding Strategies for Essays
  • How to Avoid Plagiarism
  • Tips to Avoid Plagiarism
  • How to Paraphrase
  • Presentation Facts
  • Reading Strategies
  • Presentation Teasers
  • How to Avoid Gap-Fillers

We used Canva while preparing our colorful posters and we really loved the software! If you haven’t tried it before, you should see how great the site is yourself! Then, we printed the posters on A3 to A1 sized paper so that students could easily read what is written.  And finally, we posted our posters on the walls of our corridors.

Now we see students in the corridors reading our posters. In the 5-10 minutes they spend in front of our offices, they now have a glance at the posters.

We hope in such a short time, more and more students will find something valuable, learn or reinforce their learning with the help of TEACHING WALLS!


Quick Tip: 5 Tips for Successful Icebreakers

by Walton Burns
Audience: ESL or EFL teachers at all levels

You probably do an icebreaker on the first day of class. They’re great for getting to know your students and helping them to get to know each other. An exciting getting-to-know-you game is also a fun way to start off the class. But a bad icebreaker can devolve into the students chatting all through class or revealing more than they intended about themselves. Here are five simple tips to help your icebreaker go well.

  1. Keep It Simple

Students are stressed out on the first day of class. They’re absorbing a lot of new information and thinking about their workload for the term. They’re also feeling out you and your teaching style. Some students may have trouble understanding your speech at first, so an overly complicated activity is only going to add to the stress. If your students need to choose their favorite 18th century novel, look up the color of their shirt on a chart, and then plot the position of the stars with a sextant, you might need to simplify the activity.

Unless your students are very advanced, an icebreaker should focus on concrete, immediate, and personal information, such as where they are from or who the tallest student in the class is. Students shouldn’t have to think too hard about what they’re going to say. A simple icebreaker should also have a minimum of steps. Most take the basic three-step form: Ask, Answer, Report. Finally, each step should be short and clear so that it can be easily understood, and easily written on the board.

  1. Keep It Moving

As with any activity, set time limits. Many icebreakers involve students talking in pairs or small groups. That can lead to some small talk, which is a great way to get them bonding. But if you let them, your students will probably chat all class long rather than moving on to work. And it’s not a bad idea to leave them with something to talk about outside of class, too. One of my best first days ended with all the students going out to lunch together to continue their small talk from the opening activity.

  1. Keep It Respectful

Students reveal personal information in getting-to-know-you activities. Make sure that other students are respectful. Shut down any disrespectful comments, whether intentional or accidental, quickly to show that your class is a safe place. Actually, icebreakers are a good chance to teach students what is appropriate to say about other people or share about themselves. I remember a Russian student proudly announcing that her partner looked very healthy because she had gained a lot of weight. She had no idea why anyone would be upset that they gained weight!

  1. Keep It for Day Two?

Some teachers prefer to do the ice breakers and team builders on the second day. Instead, they use the first day to do testing or jump into the content of the class right away. If you are doing testing, the first day is probably the best day for it (although you can probably fit in a quick icebreaker, too). If you start teaching from day one, students walk away feeling they have accomplished something.

  1. Keep Doing Them

Students will continue to get to know you and each other throughout the year. Their lives will change, as will their interests and expectations from the class. So don’t limit your use of getting-to-know-you activities to the beginning of the academic year. Pull out an icebreaker every now and again and keep the rapport going.

Please see free downloadable worksheets which may help you build a strong rapport with your students.






Walton Burns is a teacher and award-winning materials writer from Connecticut who began his career teaching in the South Pacific and then moved to Kazakhstan. He is the chair of the Materials Writers Interest Section, and his latest book is 50 Activities for the First Day of School. 


Burns, W. (2017). Retrieved from


Many of us often complain about problems in sentence structures we see on student papers. However, we may not find the time to focus on sentence structure but we all feel that this is, unfortunately, an urgent necessity. Now that we will soon ask our students to revise their papers, PDU finds the opportunity to share with you some documents that you may use to increase awareness about sentence structures. Below attached are a power point that progressively explain sentence structures and some documents that you can quickly share with your students. For those who don’t have time for such a study in class, handouts can be shared extensively as the answer keys are also attached. Hope you find the materials useful..Just download the documents and make use of them as you wish in the way you like…

What is a sentence (ppt)

Understanding Sentence Structure

Sentence Structure-Worksheet

Identifying Sentence Elements



Burçin Hasanbaşoğlu


Before we drive to school early in the morning on freezing winter days, we often let the car engine run for some time. Before we do sports, we do some stretching exercises. Before we perform in front of a crowd, we do some vocal warm-ups. In all these cases, the initial step is vital for optimum performance in the following activity. The same is true for our students. To ensure a fruitful term in which students comfortably communicate and thus reach optimum performance, we need to use an icebreaker that suits our group of learners. Here are three icebreakers that I enjoy using with my students on the first day of the term:

1.If I were a Dictionary Entry:

Level: Elementary and above

Materials Needed:  Paper and pencil

Preparation: None

Interaction Patterns: Individual work, whole-class activity

Time: 30 minutes


  • Tell students that they will introduce themselves, but not in a conventional way:

“Now we will get to know each other, but I want to make this a bit different. Let’s write a dictionary entry for our names and introduce ourselves in this way. But I want everyone to be as creative as possible. At the end of the activity, I want you to remember others’ names and something about those people. If we write dull and ordinary entries, no one will remember us! So let’s write interesting entries. I have written one for my name. If you want, let me read it for you:

“Hasanbasoglu, Burcin:  (proper noun): A summer-lover human being who is not so fond of cold Ankara winters”

  • Students write their own entries and then share them with the class.
  • Collect the entries at the end of the activity and prepare a class dictionary with hard cover using those entries. You might want to make a copy of this for each student as well.

Personal Comment:

  • Because students are free to express themselves in the way they want, they tend to come up with quite interesting entries as a result. They write quite memorable entries, which helps others remember their names and even the entries the next time they meet.
  1. Me Too:

 Level: Elementary and above

Materials Needed:  A box of toothpicks (10 for each student)

Preparation: None

Interaction Patterns: Group work, whole-class activity

Time: 30 minutes


  • Students work in groups of 5-6 and sit around a table.
  • Each student gets 10 toothpicks.
  • The first student states something interesting they have done (e.g. bungee jumping). If there is another student who has also done that activity in the group, that student puts one toothpick in the middle of the table and says “Me too”.
  • The second student says something and if there is somebody else who has done it, that student also puts a toothpick in the middle.
  • The procedure continues until a student in the group runs out of toothpicks.
  • At the end of the game, ask the class to list the activities done by one student only in each group, if there is any.


  • You may turn this activity into a competition and encourage students to find activities they think the others have not done, which will prevent the others from putting down their toothpicks. The aim of the competition might be to use all the toothpicks they have.
  • Instead of toothpicks, materials such as pennies or scrap paper might be used.

Personal comment:

  • This fun activity helps students to use “me too” in a practical way and grow their vocabulary.
  1. Lie Detector :

Level: Elementary and above

Materials Needed: None

Preparation: None

Interaction Patterns: Individual work, whole-class activity

Time: 40 minutes


  • Put three sentences about yourself on the board and ask the class to guess if they think they are true or not.

Note: All the sentences may be true; one or two may be true and the rest may be false; or all may be false. Here the key point is whether the sentences will attract attention and thus will increase interest.

E.g.                This is my first year in teaching.

                        Before I started teaching, I used to work as a pharmacist.

                        I learned English in Australia.


  • Students go over each statement and guess whether they are fact or fiction, which enables you to tell them something about yourself.
  • Then, students write three “true or false” sentences about themselves.
  • Students, one by one, read out the three “facts” about themselves and the class tries to guess if they are true or not.

Personal Comment:

  • This simple activity is always fun since students share interesting facts about themselves and they get to know each other better.
  • Even the silent students tell the group something about themselves, which is generally not the case in standard “introduce yourself to the group” activities.

MAY 2016

“Vocabulary Bingo Game”

Elif Şeşen



As we are approaching the end of the semester, I thought sharing with you a vocabulary recycling activity would be a good idea.  If you have some time, before the semester ends, to do some fun recycling activity, you may want to try my bingo game:)

For this activity which approximately takes less than one class hour, you will have to print and duplicate the bingo cards that are attached below this description. Depending on your class size, you can determine the number of bingo cards that would be duplicated. I have prepared 6 cards. If you wish to do it as a group work activity, 6 groups each of which is composed of 4 members would be a suitable setup for a class of 24 students. You may also prefer to do it as a pair work activity, maybe, for which you would have 2 pairs working on the same card. So, please do the necessary calculations and proceed as follows:

Another little thing you would have to do before going to class  would be to cut the definitions provided in the attached document into slips of paper. One definition, one put all the definitions into a bag and you are ready to go!

After you distribute the cards, students draw lots from the definitions bag and read out loud the definition. If the groups/pairs think that they have the word that matches the definition, they cross out the word on their card. As the definition is being read, you will have to note down the word somewhere, too, in order to be able to check bingo cards. The group that yells out “bingo” will have to show you their card and you will take sometime checking if the words crossed out on their cards are the ones whose definitions were picked from the bag.

The winner group can be awarded with little surprises like chocolate bars. But be prepared in case more than one group win at the same time..This is about how many groups share the same card.

This activity can also be used as a contingency plan. One last reminder is: please note that the words recycled in this activity are the words covered in the book, and may not reflect the lists we studied this semester.

Hope you enjoy the activity!


Bingo Card 1:


Bingo Card 2:


Bingo Card 3:


Bingo Card 4:


Bingo Card 5:


Bingo Card 6:


Definitions (to be turned into slips of paper):


April 2016

“211 – Theme: “Marketing “-Introduction to Unit 3”

Derem Çanga


This is how I cover the theme marketing (unit 3) in the course book. I start with the first slide as a lead-in. I ask the students to guess the word to be used to complete the quotations. After I elicit the word ‘advertising’, we match the words on the second slide with their definitions. Then, I tell them that a very important component of advertising is the slogans and ask them if they know which brands use the slogans on slides 5-11. Then, we move on to talking about jingles and watch the commercials (slides 12-13). Next, we start looking at/watching the ads/commercials (slides 14-47), all of which were created using a particular advertising practice. When we are finished, I tell the students that they should shoot such a commercial using one of those techniques. I show them the last two slides (48-49), on which there is more detailed information on the organization and content of the mini presentation they are supposed to give in pairs afterwards.

Enjoy! 🙂
 For ppt slides please click here.

MARCH 2016

“First Day Activities”

compiled by 

Alessandra Nicolosi


Dear teachers,

The last meeting was a real success!!

That day we shared our ideas, advices and activities. In a very friendly environment we could communicate and, most significantly, learned from each other what we do the first day of class.

I would like to share with all of you that valuable contribution.



How do you introduce yourself to your new students?







*Sonia Hoca told us that she prefers to hear from her students before she introduces herself.

She also said that she explains her surname and the culture meaning of double Spanish surnames.

To her it is important to show that she makes mistakes when she speaks Turkish. Students do not have self-confidence at the beginning but they relax if they see that their teacher is a foreign and gets wrong as well.

*Gulhan Hoca prefers speaking openly about herself.

*Alessandra Hoca starts her lessons with a background music she then illustrates the course. She tells little about herself but makes the students investigate because, in general, students are very curious about their new teacher the first day.

Advanced courses:

*Andreas Hoca speaks about himself but in his introduction he tells two lies, for example that is married. He then urges his students to find out the lies he has told.

How do you get to know your students the first day of class?









*Sonia Hoca shared a lot of activities.

a: She asks students to sit in circle. She then throws a ball and the student who receives it tells his/her name. The game goes on like this. Sonia hoca kindly brought the ball in the meeting room to show us how the game actually works.

*Andreas Hoca gives his students a photo of himself and mentions his family and hobbies and then encourages students to do the same. He told us that this activity was very powerful and students gave good feedback.

* Alessandra Hoca uses two techniques.

a.The ‘Observer game’. She invites students to get divided according to some external features like height, sex, hair color, etc.

b.She asks students to sit round and with a ball or any other object she stars this game: ‘ My name is Alessandra her/his name is….’ the ball passes and all the students repeat the same sentences. At the end the students will learn the names and the sentence itself.

Advanced courses:

b: Sonia Hoca prepares a two part questionnaire. In the first part students answer personal questions. In the second part students are told to stand up and interview their friends. Students eventually explain about their finding. Sonia hoca kindly shared her photocopy with us.

*Leyla Hoca uses an open questions questionnaire divided in two paragraphs, which she kindly showed us.

She collects the answers which help her to get to know her students better. She told us that by doing this she successes in understanding problems which students may not explain if openly asked.

Alternately she asks written closed questions such as: ‘Who is 24 years old? Who is from Ankara?’

What do you do the first day of class? What activities do you recommend?


*Sonia Hoca was again full of ideas. According to her it is important to start the first day with a game to break the tension.

a.She draws on the board  a shape. Something like this:









At each extremities she writes a word in Spanish and exhorts students, in group of three, to translate the words. Then she advises students to exchange their ideas.

b.She plays another game. She divides in columns few categories and asks students to find a word which starts with a particular letter and belongs to that category.


Name Animals Cities Colors Things

*Alessandra Hoca uses two activities.

a.She tries to understand how many words her students already know in Italian.

b.The ‘Hidden objects’ game. She takes from her students ten objects for example a pen, a pencil, a rubber, etc. She tells the names of the objects slowly hiding them, then she makes the students repeat the names and eventually she encourages students to write them down. She tells that some students remember the names of objects very well from the first day. Students love this game.

Advanced courses

c. *Sonia Hoca plays ‘Taboo’ game but with words which have a culture meaning.

d.The ‘Dialoge game’. Students listen small dialogues and try to recognize by the tone of the speaker’s voice what is the dialogue about. (love/ quarrel etc..)

*Gulhan hoca shared with us two games.

a.The first game is called ‘Psycho’. One student leaves the classroom while the rest of the class sits round and mixes the physical attributes of its components. The student out returns and asks Yes/No questions such as ‘Does he has trousers?’ to find out the swap of physical characteristic of his friends.

b.The second game helps to remember numbers. The ‘Bum’ game which she learned from Sevim Hoca . Students start counting but instead of telling the number five and its multiples they tell the word ‘Bum’.

*Andreas hoca also shared a few games with us.

a.The ‘Never’ game. The teacher says a sentence. For example ‘I never went to America’ If there is a student who DID the activity he has to stand up. Andreas hoca told us that this is a very funny game and it helps to get to know students better. Students enjoy it a lot.

b.Another very interesting game is the ‘Phonetic game’. Students try to recognize, by listening a few dialogues, important and famous people. For example Hitler can be recognized by his harsh words or old fashioned way of speaking.

*Mumin hoca thinks that the lack of self confidence of Turkish students at the beginning is due to a culture inclination. He believes that it is vital to start with a game to loosen such a situation. He advises two games.

a.‘Bingo’ game but with questions directed to students, such as‘ Who was born in August?

b.‘Taboo’ game where students should explain a word without using a list of forbidden words given to them.

What do you not like the first day of class?









*Andreas Hoca does not like the first day of class altogether because this means that a new semester has started 🙂

*Alessandra hoca does not like the first five minutes of class of the first lesson.Those moments when students are silent waiting for teacher with expectation.

*Among the difficulties we spoke about Sonia hoca told us that she finds difficult to remember some students’ names if there is more than one student with the same name in the class or if the student himself does not have any particular features teacher can remember about.






“Noun Phrases”

by Fadime Soysal


The purpose of this  worksheet is to make students more aware of characteristics of academic writing. The message is to show them again that the more complex the sentences, the more academic the text will be. One way of doing so is to elaborate on their nouns. Therefore, all the tasks in the work sheet is to show ways of doing this.

I did this task as a revision activity after they received feedback on their essays so asked them to analyze and edit their essay accordingly. That is why, I think it can be done again next term before they write an essay.


Please see the handout attached below:

Noun Phrases

DECEMBER 2015ebru

“A Powerpoint Presentation for Reaction Paragraphs”

by Ebru Kutsal Pesek 

I have prepared this powerpoint presentation for the reaction paragraph writing in Unit 2 of the 101 book.  I use this as input for the reaction paragraph starting from the general to the specific and ending with the students writing their own paragraph. I hope it will be useful for you as well.


Please see the power point presentation attached below:




“A Free IDT Task for Eng. 101” by Gökçe Tokdemir

Dear friends,

This year, I decided to add more creativity and fun to my free IDT. So, rather than giving my usual paragraph organization quiz, I designed the task below where I could make the students write an extra 25-30 sentences! Whether you think this is a good idea or not, I seem to come to the conclusion that writing skills can only be improved with more writing practice – and not necessarily in essay format. That’s why, I wanted to give a writing task which would involve some real, everyday English in an interesting context–I needed a task that would provoke some thoughts and require a written response. Hence, I prepared a list of movies which are in line with the topics in our book, and asked the students to choose one movie and answer a generic set of questions that I give by referring to specific details in the plot or characterization.

Well, finding movies for the first two units was easy, but I had a bit of a challenge in the last two. Anyways, eventually I managed to put together the following list of movies succeeded by a set of reflection / reaction-response questions which the students should answer in detail.

For this task, I gave the students about one month, not that they needed that much time but because I wanted to show that I took the task seriously, and expected elaborate answers. As for the grading, I had three criteria: the effort, content and grammar. If the student put enough time and energy to this assignment, managed to address the issue and answer the question, and expressed the ideas in good language, I was more than happy to be generous.

The result is: Well, the students loved it! Some of them watched 4-5 movies, or one from each category and said that they couldn’t decide which one to write about. Again, some highly motivated ones wanted to discuss the movies, talk about them in class. Of course, not everyone was equally enthusiastic, but the majority appreciated what I was trying to do.

An alternative version of this task could involve short stories, coupled with a similar set of questions. For Unit 4, especially, the focus being changing generations, we can find many family-related stories (like K. Ishiguro’s “Family Supper,” A. Desai’s ‘The Good Son,” or G. de Maupassant’s “Hautot and his Son”). Okay, now I am showing off:)

I hope you’ll like the task,

bye for now,


ENG 101


Choose one of the below-listed films and watch it carefully to answer the questions on the next page. It is important that you answer the questions on your own, using your own words and providing as many specific details from the film as possible. When grading, I will consider your effort, your language and content. Type your assignment on the computer and submit it by November 26/27th. Enjoy the movie! 

 Unit 1: Changing the Self

  • Lucy(2014; Luc Besson)
  • Limitless(2011; Neil Burger)
  • Transcendence(2014; Wally Pfister)
  • Gattaca(1997; Andrew Niccol)
  • Self/less(2015; Tarsem Singh)

Unit 2: Changing Communications 

  • You’ve Got Mail(1998; Nora Ephron)
  • Surrogates(2009; Jonathan Mostow)
  • Tron(2010; Joseph Kosinski)
  • Disconnect(2012; Henry Alex Rubin)

Unit 3: Changing Habits

  • Into the Wild(2007; Sean Penn)
  • The Truman Show(1998; Peter Weir)
  • Thank you for Smoking(2005; Jason Reitman)
  • Stranger than Fiction(2006; Marc Forster)

Unit 4: Changing Generations

  • The Social Network(2010; David Fincher)
  • Lost in Translation(2003; Sofia Coppola)
  • Boyhood(2014; Richard Linklater)
  • Failure to Launch(2006; Tom Dey)


  1. Summarize the movie in 3-5 sentences.
  2. Who is the main character(protagonist) and what is the main conflict / problem in the movie? Do you sympathize with the main character? Do you agree with his/her choices? If you were in the same situation, would you have acted the same way? Explain in 8-10 sentences.
  3. Whatis the effective scene / your favorite scene in the movie? Why do you think you are moved by that particular scene?  Explain in 5-7 sentences by referring to the movie.
  4. What would you change in the scenario / film? Would you end the movie differently? Would you have casted a different actor? Explain in 3-5 sentences.

To download the activity as a handout, you can click on the link below:

imagesfree idt handout



“A Post-listening Speaking Activity” by Şebnem Kıyan

I have prepared this speaking material as a post-listening activity for Unit 4 listening: Changing Families. It gives the students a chance to practice the words in the pre-listening exercise in the book and to generate new ideas in the light of the listening exercise. This material is easy to apply and takes about 35-40 minutes, which gives me the opportunity to use it in all my classes. I hope you will find it useful, too!

Here is how I apply this material in my classes. You may follow your own steps.

  1. Teacher asks students to act as sociologists at a workshop and to examine the changes in gender roles and their effects on society.
  2. Teacher divides students into 4 groups, A-B-C-D.
  3. Teacher gives the hand-out attached below.
  4. Each group discusses the TWO subjects within their group and takes notes.
  5. Teacher creates new groups of 4 students by selecting ONE student from the groups A, B, C and D. (There may be more than one student depending on the number of students.)
  6. In this newly formed groups each student summarizes what has been discussed in their first group and asks the opinions of the other group members.
  7. Students take notes under the subjects in the hand-out while listening to their friends.
  8. Teacher elicits the answers from each group about each subject.

You may find the material attached below.

imagesspeaking handout

“Vocabulary Quiz with Pawtoon” by Filiz Başaran

Filiz BasaranI believe that it is no longer the age of “pen and paper”… Our students are the kids of the internet age… So, I believe in the excitement that will come into our classes with the usage of technology and internet…

To this end, I created a vocabulary quiz in which the students will use the website “powtoon”. I chose some words that were covered in the class and asked students to create a cartoon in this website by using these words. They could change the form of the words and the cartoon could be about anything they like…Once the cartoon was ready, they posted their cartoon on facebook closed group that we created before so that they could see each others’ cartoons, recylce the words many times in different contexts and make comments on them….

Some of them created fabulous things with extraordinary imagination… Worth trying…:)))

imagesThe quiz desciption sheet is attached below:

activity of the month-filiz basaran

imagesFor a sample student project, click on the link below.

JUNE 2015

“Jeopardy” by Buket Tarakçıoğlu

buketThis term, I turned the questions of the 3rd reading in the book entitled “Media: The Voices of The Powerful” into a jeopardy game. As it was one of the last classes of the term, normally, it would have been very difficult to have students concentrate on reading in the class. However, this went so well that I could say students could not have understood the text better if they had read it silently on their own. Here is how to conduct it.

– Divide the class into groups.
– Group 1 chooses a box from the “jeopardy” slide at the very beginning of the ppt, such as, “vocab 200”
– All groups write their answers on a piece of paper in the time given.
– When the time is over, check the answer Group 1 has written on their paper. If group 1 gets the answer correct, they get the point of that question and other groups are not given a chance to answer the same question. If group 1’s answer is incorrect, then check all the other groups’ answers. Whoever has the correct answer gets the point of the question.
– repeat the same procedure for each group until the questions finish.
– don’t forget to keep the score as it might get complicated as the game proceeds.
Some reminders:
– when you click on the box chosen on the jeopardy slide, you go directly to the question that belongs to that box. The next slide after the question is the answer slide and when you click on the point box on the bottom left corner of that slide, you go back to the jeopardy slide again. (Don’t do this manually as you may not want the students to see the questions before they are asked.)

– I gave 1 minute for vocab and reference questions, 2 minutes for comprehension questions worth 100 and 200 points, and 3 minutes for comprehension questions worth 300, 400 and 500 points.- I tried to order the questions from easiest to the most difficult as much as I could but some questions might have the same difficulty level although they have different points (as I was limited with the questions in the book), but that didn’t create much of a problem. After all that’s just a game :)Enjoy

The activity is attached below:

imagesMedia-The Voices of the Powerful-Jeopardy

MAY 2015

“Logical Deduction Quiz” by Ceyda Karagoz

ceyda-fotoThis quiz is meant to serve as a transition or introduction to “logical fallacies”. It could be done before or after introducing logical deduction to students.  The items are designed to raise awareness about how a valid argument should be constructed. Each item is discussed and thenstudents are presented with the concepts “argument”, “premise”, “conclusion”. This quiz works best with additional input on logical induction and deduction, which are indispensible concepts where argumentation is concerned. Altogether, this input is supposed to lay the groundwork for fallacies.

The quiz is attached below.

imagesLogical deduction quiz

Logical deduction quiz-key

APRIL 2015

“Controlled Paraphrasing Exercise” by Esra Music


This is a material I prepared two years ago but haven’t had the chance to try myself yet- I was on maternity leave then, and last year I was still at home (but busy enough). This year I will use it (if you try it first and think it works).

I find paraphrasing difficult to teach, since it mostly depends on students’ language competence. After you give the tips, do this do that blah and blah, only those with good control of grammar can actually produce a paraphrase which is close to the ones given in the answer key. At the feedback stage, what I usually get is only a handful of students who are more or less able to do it, with most of the class feeling left out, and left behind –for their grammar is not that good. As a result, they give up in desperation and avoid even attempting to paraphrase when they need to.

So I thought of designing something which could be used as an early practice activity- I will use the attached material after I go over what paraphrasing is, and introducing ways of changing the language in the original text. Maybe after a couple of sentence-level practice exercises, I can allocate one full hour to the activity.

The aim is to enable them to see what their options are for changing language (changing voice, nouns to verbs and vice versa, replacing words with their synonyms and antonyms, chunking and reconnecting etc.). This lesson will hopefully help them remember how they can do things when they are alone with a short text which needs to be paraphrased.

Basically this is a lesson where they listen to my instructions to make changes in a short paragraph (there are two short paragraphs actually, whichever you’d like to try). There are about 10 instructions for each paragraph, resulting in an “incremental” or step by step paraphrase. So, if they can successfully follow all the instructions, they will have ended up with a nice paraphrase by the lesson’s end.

To make it more activity-like, I think I’ll be putting my students in small groups (of three), and give each group one handout to fill. The handout starts with an original text, and there are boxes and arrows which take them to the paraphrase. To make sure everybody stays on task, I will introduce it as a “paraphrasing competition” J (which may earn them bonus grades… but even without the promise of bonus grades, almost any competition will work with our students I think! They love to compete, and that’s how they ended up here).

So in groups, they listen to each instruction, and as silently as possible they do what they are asked to. After 10 instructions, maybe in 30 minutes or so, each group has a paraphrase. I will collect their handouts and redistribute, so that they are each checking another group’s work. The group with the closest answer to my paraphrase wins.

End note..

The second paragraph is longer and may take longer than 30 min.

There are two set of instructions for the first original text, leading to two different paraphrases. You can choose either. Or.. both… if you print, and give the instructions in slips of paper, one by one, you can give one set of instructions to four groups, and the second set to the remaining four or five, and at the end they can compare their paraphrases to the other groups` paraphrases.

Looking back, I must have been insane to prepare such a task… I think I will never have that much time, ever… still not getting enough sleep!

imagesparaphrasing handouts