Stop Disasters!

Stop Disasters! is a disaster simulation game.  You can choose from five types of natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, tsunami, wildfire and hurricane.

Students have to think about what precautions can be taken to reduce the impact of natural disasters.  There are missions, challenges, students are given a budget etc.  It would be really interesting to use this in class or set it up as homework and students report back to class.




ELLLO (Is that three ‘l’s teacher? Yes, three ‘l’s) stands for English Language Listening Library Online.  It was created by Todd Beuckens, an ESL teacher living in Japan.  The lessons are free and very very helpful.

Complementing the free audio is a script, vocabulary and quiz.

Alan November

Educational Innovators

During a recent webinar tutorial in which we were discussing the use of technology in learning the name of Alan November popped up.  I had never heard of him and so spent some time finding out who we was and found these videos which I immediately identified with:

Who owns learning?

21st Century Learning – a Deep Dive into the Future

I am currently reading Alan November’s book, Empowering Students With Technology, and hope to find more time to read through it over the holidays.

The point that technology can be a powerful motivator for some students who do not succeed in traditional classrooms is pertinent and not only relevant to teenagers as the story of Yves with which Alan November opens the book alludes to.  I have found it can be a powerful motivator for many of my adult learners.  

The story of Yves reminds me of a quote often attributed to Einstein which berates state education systems:

(Here’s the view of someone who really disagrees with this quote and rightfully questions whether Einstein would take this view.)


Engaging Video Clips

Level: B1+

Age: Young Learners to Adults

Theme: Friends, Adjectives, Picture description, Present simple, Present continuous

Tell students that they’re going to watch a video about Harvey and his best friend.

Why do you think they are good friends?
Who do you think Harvey and Rabbit are?

Further questions to ask before watching the clip:

Why do we need friends?
Why are your friends important?
What do you do together?

Watch the video, do you do these things with your friends?

Watch the video again, write as accurately as possible all the things Harvey and Rabbit do.

  • They play on a see-saw together.
  • They have their photos taken in fancy dress in a photo booth.
  •  Harvey buries Rabbit in the sand and makes him into a mermaid. 
  • Harvey rescues Rabbit from a burning house and resuscitates him by licking him. 
  • They steal sausages from the butcher’s and Rabbit drives the getaway car.
  • Harvey makes a compilation tape for Rabbit and dances to it on his hind legs while Rabbit listens on headphones.
  • They lie down on their backs in the grass watching cloud shapes.

I sometimes stop the video at different parts and get students to tell their partner what is happening / has happened / is going to happen.  This was particular helpful for Cambridge exam preparation such as PET and First where candidates have to describe pictures.

I put the following images in a power point slide:

(FRIENDS! a-la-la-poo-poo-la-la-laaaaaa..)

Dr Ruben Puentedura

Educational Innovators

Dr. Ruben Puentedura is the Founder and President of Hippasus, a consulting firm based in Western Massachusetts, focusing on transformative applications of information technologies to education. He has implemented these approaches for over twenty-five years at a range of K-20 educational institutions, as well as health and arts organizations.

(Hippasus of Metapontum, was a Pythagorean philosopher. Little is known about his life or his beliefs, but he is sometimes credited with the discovery of the existence of irrational numbers.)

Dr Ruben Puentedura is the creator of the SAMR model for selecting, using and evaluating technology in education, which currently guides the work of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, as well as projects in Vermont and Sweden.

His current work explores new direction in mobile computing, digital storytelling, learning analytics and educational gaming, focusing on applications in areas where they have not been traditionally employed.  He can be reached at’

Ruben R. Puentedura’s blog 

The impact of SAMR

How to Apply SAMR

Dragon Dictation


Dragon Dictation is a free app which students can download to practice their speaking and pronunciation skills.  It is a speech recognition application which is only available on the Apple iOS platform.

When I tried the transcription of my speech was 99% accurate.  The only error was the absence of the definite article before Apple iOS due to the fact that structural words, such as auxiliary verbs and prepositions, are often pronounced in their weak form and so often go unheard (by electronic devices and students themselves!).

Learners can practice reading short extracts and compare their recorded transcription with that of the written text that they have chosen.

3rd World Farmer

Educational Gaming

Age: 10+
Levels: Medium-Difficult

3rd World Farmer can be used with kids and teenagers to educate them on the problems that families in other countries face to make ends meet.  I’d suggest students try playing the game then report back to the class on the difficulties that they faced.  They could also write a story or a narrative on what happened to them.

‘3rd World Farmer lets you experience some of the hardships of farming in a poor country. Will you prosper despite corruption and lack of basic necessities? Or will endless wars, diseases, droughts, and unreliable markets perpetuate your economic disadvantage and spell your ultimate doom?

3rd World farmer is a serious game, developed on a very slim budget. It is not precise in all details, but covers a wide range of topics. It is meant to be both educational and slightly provocative, with the sole intent of making people think about these topics and, hopefully, realize that each of us can make a difference in helping to end poverty.’

New English File Online

Grammar and Vocabulary

English File, published by Oxford University Press, has always been one of my favourite course books.  There is a good mix of material that engages learners.  The communicative activities and grammar worksheets in the teacher’s book are my go-to additional material.  Each level includes relevant pronunciation activities which I find lacking in other text books.  Layout and design have also been well thought out offering an attractive and appealing course for students to follow.

The New English File Upper-intermediate Online resource is a fantastic website I regularly tell my B2+ students to make use of.  It offers a wide variety of resources which allow learners to continue their learning at home.  You will find games, web links, text builders, revision activities and a whole lot more.

The different New English File Online levels can be found here.