Design Ideas

As part of the first module of the MMEL MSc  I am required to create a learning resource that integrates a range of ICT tools  into current teaching practice.

Below is a list of my ideas. I would appreciate it if you could vote on the idea that you feel would most benefit my basic skills learners.

Idea 1 – Wordle a-z activities

Like the activity above from Skills Workshop I am thinking of using Wordle to develop a series of A-Z worksheets for my adult literacy class. Each worksheet would be based on the differing themes from the live exams. The worksheets would then be used to prepare students for the end of course exam as there is quite often a question where the students must arrange a list of names or objects in alphabetical order. The students are generally ok with ordering things from a- z but struggle when they are faced with two words that start with the same letter, for example Peter and Paul. The worksheets could be used to address this problem.

As my learners can range from the age of 18 to 70  I often have a wide range of ability levels when it comes to using software on the PC. An advantage of using Wordle is the fact that I can make an online and paper based version of the resource so that my learners can have a choice over how they use it.

Idea 2 – Hot potato multiple choice worksheets

As the L1 and L2 numeracy exam consists of an on-line multiple choice test I think it would benefit my learners to be able to practice using this format of questioning as they learn different topics throughout the course. Therefore my second idea is to use Hot Potato to develop a series of interactive end of topic multiple choice quizzes

Idea 3 – Interactive Word documents

Although I teach on a basic literacy course a lot of my learners have English as an Additional Language and often have very low level English skills. A lot of the learners have higher level writing skills but struggle to understand the English language  when it is spoken. However my native English learners are often the other way round and are fine at understanding spoken English but struggle with their reading skills. Therefore I feel that it may be beneficial for both sets of these students to be able to hear as well as read the instructions on Word based worksheets. I would like to develop this resource further by creating a series of gap fill activities where the students use drop down boxes to choose the correct word.



Collabrotive, social learning – Lino It and Answer Garden

Today I attended a workshop session about free online software packages that can be used to enhance learning in the classroom.  Lino It and Answer Garden were two collaborative software packages that were presented. They are both suitable for the SFL classroom as the software can be used to encourage  learners to share their opinions and knowledge in a non-judgemental and anonymous way.

Lino It

Lino It is a sticky note based web page that can be used to post memos, ideas, and photos anywhere on an online web canvas.

Why do earthquakes happen?

You could use the software as a student focused starter or  plenary. One of the ways you could do this would be to post a question in the corner of the canvas and then hand the activity over to the students to post replies, for example you could ask the students in what situations have you wrote an email. The students might then reply, to complain about extra charges on a phone bill, to tell a friend some good news or to inform my tutor that I won’t be in for a few days due to sickness.

As you can change the colour of the post-it notes it’s easy to add an element of competition to the activity as you could assign a different colour per team, this means that you could also have girls (yellow post-it notes) vs boys (green post it-notes) competition. The team that comes up with the most replies could win a prize such as choosing the next question or activity.

The software is also useful as an assessment tool. It could be used at the start of a session to assess the learning and knowledge retention of previous lessons, it could be used at the end of the lesson to check understanding and if you asked the students questions such as did you enjoy this lesson, what did you think about the lesson materials it could also be used as an evaluation tool to assess how well the lesson has gone.

Although you can use the software without setting up an account I don’t recommend using the software with your learners without one. By setting up an account you can retain control of the activity once it has been passed onto your learners as you can remove any  post that you do not approve of. It is also a good idea to set up different groups for different classes as that way you can keep the canvases private and prevent different classes from cheating by copying the other groups notes.

Answer Garden

Answer Garden is similar to Lino though it is a lot simpler to use. Once you open up the software click on create, post a question, give your students the url address and once they open the web page they are able to post replies.

One of the ways that this could be used in the SFL classroom would be to teach about tallies. The students could post a question e.g what is your favourite mobile phone brand? Share the web page with their class mates and then once all of the responses are in, use the information for creating tallies of how many times each brand appears.

When promos go wrong

‘When promos go wrong’ is a fantastic resource from the Money Saving Expert.

The webpage contains a variety of photographs of incorrectly priced discounts such as Tesco’s Indian Meal Bags £2.81 each or 2 for £12 and Asda cakes reduced from 15p to 49p.

Here are a few ways that I thought the resource could be used in skills for life lessons:

  • As a way to contextualize multiplication and division in real life situations
  • As a way of highlight the importance of being able to carry out mental arithmetic
  • As a discussion starter about technical issues or human error
  • As a conversation starter about people’s spending habits

A Yorkshire Yarn

A Yorkshire Yarn

A Yorkshire Yarn is a short documentary series exploring the English language learning experiences of three students at the University of Huddersfield. There are three episodes in the series.

The Tales  of a Trainee Tutor

‘The Tale of a Trainee Teacher’ is the first episode  and explores the experiences of Wafaa Fathy. Wafaa was born in Egypt and now lives in Leeds. She is studying for a PGCE in Lifelong Learning and is training to become a Skills for Life Tutor specialising in teaching ESOL and ICT.

Waffa – pre-video worksheet is a short introductory worksheet that students can complete before watching the video. The worksheet gives students the opportunity to guess Wafaa’s answers to the following questions;

1.Did you first come to England to study?

2.What methods did you use to learn the English language?

3.What advice do you have for current ESOL students?

Once they have complete this sheet the following worksheet, Waffa — during the video worksheet, has been adapted slightly for the students to fill in whilst watching the video. You can download the answers here – Waffa – during the video (answer sheet)

After watching the video there is a questionnaire based worksheet to complete –  Wafaa – post video worksheet.  The worksheet provides students with the opportunity to ask their fellow classmates why they started  to learn the English language and what resources have helped them with this . The students also have a chance to provide their own advice on ways to learn the English language.

Rafal’s Adventure

‘Rafal’s Adventure’ is the second episode in the series and explores the language learning experiences of Rafal Hanzel. Rafal was born in Poland and now lives in Huddersfield. He is studying for a degree in business studies and runs Raf Buy an on-line supermarket specialising in Polish products.

The worksheets for this video can be downloaded below or through Skills Workshop at

The worksheets follow the same format as the Wafaa worksheets although the questions are slightly different.

Rafal – pre-video worksheet

Rafal – during the video worksheet

Rafal – during the video worksheet (answers)

Rafal – post video worksheet

Juliet’s Story

‘Juliet’s Story’ is the third and final episode in the ‘Yorkshire Yarn’ series. Juliet Ngwenya originates from Zimbabwe but now lives in Leeds with her family. She is studying for a PGCE in Lifelong Learning and like Wafaa is training to become a Skills for Life Tutor.

The worksheets for this video can be downloaded below.

The worksheets follow the same format as the Wafaa worksheets although the questions are slightly different. The final worksheet is a paired speaking activity.

Juliet – pre-video worksheet

Juliet – during the video worksheet

Juliet – during the video worksheet (answers)

Juliet – post video worksheet

What’s the connection?

‘What’s the connection?’ is a fantastic literacy/ESOL game that provides students with the opportunity to explore links between groups of words.  The game can be adapted for low level learners as each word could be printed with its picture in order to help students recognise the word.

Can you figure out what these words have in common?

1.  Banana
2.  Dresser
3.  Grammar
4.  Potato
5.  Revive
6.  Uneven
7.  Assess

No, it is not that they all have at least 2 double letters..

Answer: In all of the words listed, if you take the first letter, place it at the end of the word, and then spell the word backwards, it will be the same word.

24 Hours in Pictures

Every day the Guardian newspaper run a feature called 24 hours in pictures. As part of this feature  they publish a collection of around fifteen recent images. This includes pictures from current global events, as well as other notable images.

24/03/2011 - Beijing, China: A man smokes in his car. China will ban smoking in all indoor public places from May

This feature is a fantastic resource and can be used in a variety of ways including:

  • As a discussion starter – Why do people smoke?
  • To spark debate – Should the United Nations be involved in the conflict in Libya?
  • As a way of discussing emotions – How would you feel if you were imprisoned for voicing your opinion
  • As a way of introducing politics into a lesson – What impact has the smoking ban had in England? Will the ban have the same effects in China?
  • As a guessing game – Print off all 15 pictures. In groups the students decide what month/year the photographs were taken and the news events that they are depicting
  • My favourite – Present the students with a selection of images. The students pick their favourite and discuss why they have picked that particular image.

Here’s a selection of the images published on the 7th April 2011.


Over the last few months Wordle has been making regular appearances in my Personal Learning Network so I thought I’d share the resource with you.
Wordle is a text generator that allows you to create ‘Word Clouds’ from either the text you type in, text that you copy and paste from a document or text from a website. Once your word cloud is created you can save the image to the Wordle gallery and screen print a copy for yourself. Once you have cropped this image you can then use the screen print in your lessons either as part of a Power Point Presentation or a Word Document.
Below is an example of a Wordle related to health and safety words.

Health and Safety Wordle

You could use the Health and Safety Wordle as:

  • As a starter to spark discussion about health and safety
  • As a backwards crossword in  which  the students write clues for the words
  • It could be used as in a memory game where the students are given two minutes to memorise the words before they recite them to their tutor/classmates.

I was first introduced to the website via my PGCE tutor Alison. In her blog Alison provides a few ideas for using Wordle in the Skills for Life classroom such as stimulus for creative writing or as a way of analysing the text in a poem. Alison’s blog post also includes a downloadable Poetry Writing exercise based on songs to do with snow.
I have recently started following @tombarrett on Twitter and he is always tweeting fantastic links to his interesting ways series.A series of Power Points containing various interesting ways for supporting spelling in the classroom, using Google docs and teaching comprehension to name just a few.

Tom recently tweeted a link to a Wordle based ‘interesting ways’ which includes ways to find out what ideas are most important in a famous speech and using Wordle to compare/contrast themes in literature.

Here are a few more ideas for using Wordle provided by Skills Workshop:

Alphabetical fruit and vegetables using Wordle

Homophone pairs quizzes with Wordle