Image: Barcelona tobacconist's window, taken to show students as an example
Here's a project that seems to be going down well: having teens compete to see who can take the best Halloween themed pictures on their mobile phones.
They're sharing them in lots of places (Facebook, Twitter, via WhatsApp…) though where they're supposed to be 😉 sharing and commenting on them is on the Edmodo group set up for the class. 25 people have so far posted 47, which is great, though the amount of commenting has been a bit disappointing so far (perhaps we needed to insist on it more?).
After next weekend (when lots are going to Halloween parties where they're supposed to take more photos), the idea is for the learners to discuss and award prizes for the funniest, scariest, cutest… etc,
Here's one for Halloween. I'm not sure that there's actually the basis of a lesson there, but it's fun (and class should be fun, shouldn't it?).
If there's not class time to spend on such things, an Edmodo group for your class is a great place to share and comment on such things, even (especially?) when there's no formal "activity" that has to be completed, and it's simply a social activity (which learning is, or should be, anyway).
One of the many things I like about Edmodo is that learners start to post and share and comment on fun things they find of their own accord, with little or no prompting from their teacher.
Here's one for you if you've got class on Monday, Halloween.
I love this activity as it's so simple, requires so little in the way of preparation, and (assuming you've picked a good clip for it) always generates lots of interaction between the learners.
The idea has been around a long time, since the days of VCRs (video, that is), when that was "new technology". All you have to do is pair your students and have one person in each pair sit with their backs to the screen, while their partner provides a running commentary on what is happening. If you get them to agree on the "script" before a second viewing for everyone, you'll double the interaction your material leads to.
If you have an interactive whiteboard, it works well with that, too.
Try this one full screen, with the volume turned up and the lights off! It doesn't bother me that my learners are with me to learn English and the soundtrack is in Spanish.
If you prefer a more student-centred approach to listening, you could alternatively, and as a lead-in, get your learners to brain-storm the vocabulary they think will come up in a "Halloween Horror Story" and then listen and watch to see how many they got "right".
There are in fact two YouTube videos there. I prefer the second because it's so much shorter (one minute, not five).
Jamie also has a book, Images (OUP 2009), with activities that can be used for teaching of productive and receptive language skills, grammar, vocabulary and so on.
It's getting round to that time of year again… On the British Council's Learn English Kids site, you have things about witches and wizards — "things" being songs and jigsaw puzzles and stories and and stuff you can print, a link which I picked up from the Council's excellent ELTeCS list.
Don't print it, make it!
Stuff you can print…? I've always had my doubts about that — especially if we are talking about young learners. Who was the teacher trainer I once heard say that it broke her heart "to see young learners all with the same photocopied picture"?
If we're talking teenagers, for whom drawing witches is undoubtedly not going to be cool, you could get them to take photos of Halloweeny things on their mobile phones — which again could be great on a class blog.
Don't worry so much about the quality of the images — just quick snapshots like the one at the top of this post (detail of the decorations at Reception here at school) will produce a great collection.
Creating, not consuming
If you then got your learners to write ghost stories (possibly featuring the creatures they've taken photos, or drawn pictures of), then they'd be creating, not merely consuming — and that's what technology allows us to do.
In Spanish, here's another idea that makes a great Halloween activity.