This is Halloween! – by Sandra Luna



As most of my friends know, I absolutely love Halloween. I like carving pumpkins, welcoming the (very few) kids who come trick-or-treating, making cards and painting monsters with my boys. I think it’s better than Carnival, actually, I think it can’t be compared to Carnival. However, Halloween isn’t that popular in Portugal, really. It’s still seen as a “foreign”, “modern” activity so there’s not a lot of attention paid to it. Just that teachers, English teachers, that is, love it. Time to have fun and let the mean, (not that) nasty vampire come out, come out, wherever it is….

So, what do I have to share? Probably nothing new. If you go online there will be thousands of resources available. However, if you need a quick guide and don’t have time to scroll down Dr. Google’s list, here are a few resources and ready-made worksheets that can help save the day.


The History of Halloween (a short documentary by the History channel, quite good for an activity with adults) –

Halloween Songs for Kids! (half an hour of wonderful Halloween songs for VYL by Super Simple Songs) –

Short Story – Halloween is Grinch’s night (looking for a short film? This could be it. Dr. Seuss story for children about the Grinch) –

Halloween Cartoons (a playlist with 65 videos related to the theme. Great for VYL if you’re looking for a different way in which to finish/start your lesson) –

Crosswords, Puzzles & Word Searches

Word search (good for YL and teenagers) –

Halloween Scramble (a simple worksheet related to safety on Halloween, good for YL) –

Crossword (a sort of a Halloween trivia that is sure to keep your students busy for a while) –

Word search builder (make your own word search with this on line program, you will only have to print it) –


Halloween worksheets (@ you’ll find lots of printable worksheets you’ll be able to use with your students) –

Halloween worksheets and activities (you have everything here, from Reading comprehension, to vocabulary practice. @ you’ll find resources from several sorts)

The teachers’ corner (you’ll find recipes, puzzles, wordsearch, etc.) –

Super Simple Learning (this website will provide you with lesson plans, recipes, party ideas and so on) –


Dream English Halloween (focuses on songs that can be used, mainly, with children) –

Halloween songs (over 8 pages of different songs that can be used with other levels) –

And of course, if all else fails…

• The (you know why, don’t you 😉 –

• Printables, crafts, poems (not many people still remember this site, but it’s one of the oldest around) –


Warm up by Auctioning, Miming and Finding the Mistake! – by Isabel Fechas

Being a Young Learner’s teacher is not an easy task. Even after years of doing this, I still need to be constantly researching for new strategies to teach English to my students and, at the same time, make them enjoy what they are doing. To do so, I’ve used some strategies that most of you already use in your classes: warmers, games and rewards.

As you may know, warmers are a good way to set the mood to learn English. They shouldn’t take more than a few minutes in the beginning of the lesson and don’t necessary need to be related to what you’re teaching that day, but they are excellent techniques to review subjects taught in previous lessons. Here are some of the warmers I’ve used with my students.

Auction a Sentence is an activity that can be used to review grammar and you can do this with almost any level. Mix the correct and incorrect sentences on pieces of paper and give them to your students. Explain that you are going to have an auction and that they’ll be given a certain amount of money to spend (using money adds a sense of reality to this, so it might be advantageous to do so). Tell them they must read the sentences and bid if they think the sentence is correct. They can only spend the amount of money they have. The ones who lose must give their money to the winners, adding a fun, competitive spirit.

If you have younger learners who aren’t familiar with auctioning, you can just do a Find the Mistakes activity. The process is more or less the same. They must find the mistake and correct the sentence. Instead of money, they can win points that you can later exchange for a reward. A nice way to make this activity more appealing to them is to use a mini-whiteboard for them to write the correction on. Students love to use different materials, and these work really well.

Miming the Word is a good way of reviewing and recycling vocabulary taught, and it doesn’t take long to prepare. On separate pieces of paper, write words that students have been learning and give one or two to each student in class. Instruct your students not to show the paper(s) to their classmates. Explain that they have to read the word and mime it out to the rest of the class. The student that guesses the word then gets a point. If your students are shy and don’t like to be up front, try doing it yourself first to get them started. Seeing the teacher doing the same activity they’re supposed to do is encouraging for them and might give them the boost they need.

These are just some of the possibilities of warmers you can use with your students. They will help to lighten the mood at the beginning of each lesson and will definitely result in more engaged students when it comes to learning and speaking English in your class. Hope these warmers help!


Getting to the core of specialty exams: A look at the GRE – by Shawn Severson

There are many specialty exams out there, each, as the designation implies, focusing on a specific area and skill. Additionally, those exams prepared in the US, such as TOEFL and TOEIC on one hand, for testing non-native English ability and the GMAT and GRE, on the other, which incorporate serious timing constraints and even psychometric methods, ultimately measuring how the candidate responds under pressure. In other words, for these last two exams, the focus is to pinpoint the skills each candidate possesses and to minimize the influence of rote learning on test scores. Many arguments for and against these types of exams are out there. However, as these exams are carefully created to ensure a level of language, thinking skills and math, why don’t we take a look at one such exam—the GRE? The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is an exam to assess verbal, math and writing skills for those applying to Master’s or PhD programs at universities in the US and in an increasing number of universities around the world. Both presume native English speaking ability, especially in the case of GRE. Like the Cambridge exams, the GRE takes about 4 hours to complete.

On the other hand, the GRE is computer-based, which means that students have the added difficulty of not being able to mark on the exam paper, although they may make notes on scratch paper if they wish. Just for a taste of the exam, here are some of the most challenging words that keep appearing, interestingly enough, share a common theme: profligate, spendthrift, pecuniary, miserly, avarice, prodigal, squandering, rapacious, mercenary, acquisitive, niggard, parsimonious, penurious, stingy, munificent.

To give you an idea of one the exam types, chose two words from the options below that logically complete this sentence.

Despite having earned over two hundred million dollars during his career, the boxer’s _______ spending and bad investments left him insolvent within a few years of retirement.

a. parsimonious b. penurious c. perfidious d. prodigal e. profligate f. pugnacious

There are also critical reasoning and reading texts, which are very tricky in addition to two essays, one of which requires you to analyze an issue and another a short argument, commenting on the argument structure and logic. Here are a couple Analysis of an Issue writing prompts: “As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.” “In any field of endeavor, it is impossible to make a significant contribution without first being strongly influenced by past achievements within that field.”

Curious? We have a wealth of materials available electronically, and you can find out more at


Homework Correcting Tips – by Sandra Luna

Sometimes I walk past a class during its first few minutes of and hear something like “Number 3?” This is an immediately giveaway of what is being done. After all, I used to do that, too. Then one day someone asked me “why?” It was then that I realised there were things I could do differently to turn homework into a classroom activity rather than the boring start it had become.

Here are a few ideas I’d like to share:

• Students expect homework to be the first thing they do in class. Surprise them. Do it as a “calming down” activity after a game or as a transition activity. You could also leave it till the end of class. I don’t usually use it as a warmer. In my opinion these two shouldn’t mix, having different aims.

• Even if you are in a hurry and want to get it out of the way, you can still make sure students are alert by varying the order in which you correct exercises.

• Photocopy answers and give each pair or group a copy. Students correct and explain wrong answers to each other.

• Always give students a chance to compare their answers, insecure students will feel more confident if they have to speak.

• Make it fun. Take names out of a hat at random, but give students the option to PASS if their name is called.

• Finally, you can set homework on Moodle with the Quiz module. Students get corrections right away, which is quite effective and dynamic.


Reward System – by Isabel Fechas

Competition is a part of human nature. So, I decided to implement a “reward system” based on that assumption to help students engage in class activities that, so far, has been working for me. This is the way I usually do it, but it can be adapted according to the levels you’re teaching. During the first lessons, explain to students that they’ll be given points and that those points give them the right to earn a reward. Establish a minimum of points to earn a reward. Points can be given to teams/pairs that finish an activity first and get all answers correct, to a student who knows the meaning of new words and explains them to others in class or even to teams or students that get better results in class games. As a reward, several things can be used and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. The easiest things to use are stickers. There are different types of stickers, so choose the ones that best fit you students. Candies also work really well. If you have a special project and want to spend a little bit more, choose something that you know your students will appreciate. Hope this helps you in your classes!

Website ideas 4 teachers & students – by Joana Styliano Costa

Looking for tools to help you make material such as exam tips more engaging for your students? Well, here are some ideas which aren’t too much work and will make a great deal of fun and learning for all.

Here you can select a character and his/her voice to say whatever you want them to say – all you have to do is type the text and select from a wide range of accents! I have used Vokis as a way of providing students with tips for writing tasks, and they have found them fun and more engaging than any handout. I opted for a static background, in order to ensure they focus on the actual content without their getting too distracted by the scenario. I then selected one of the characters and made sure that similar tasks would have the same spokesperson in order to ensure coherence and thus make it easier for students to identify the topics. The fact that it is computer-based – my students watched them in class and I then shared them by email – ensures the experience is more interactive and memorable. All you need is a free account to sign up, log in and start creating those Vokis! And they are actually quite simple and enjoyable to make!

This is a truly fun website where you can create short videos – you can choose pretty much everything from background, symbols and characters to include, text, etc; alternatively, you have ready-made templates which you can easily adapt. It is very useful for promotional videos, as you may have seen on our website, but it can also be used for presenting students’ work or even as a tool for their projects. It can also be an alternative to a more traditional slideshow when introducing a topic.

Yet another fun website for creating animation videos, as you may have guessed from the name. Lots of different characters, including celebrities, as well as familiar backgrounds can be used. It is similar to the previous one, so explore the ready-made videos and then start making your own to suit any educational purpose – be it students’ project work or exam-related ideas and tips. All of the above may be used by students themselves as well, provided they have been given a specific task.

Finally, two suggestions to make sure you are always up-to-date with the latest technological tools for education: – which you can follow on Google+ and Pinterest

– the teachers’ group on Facebook called Ferramentas Educativas 2.0 where different teachers from different areas exchange tools, resources and viewpoints.