Give a Kahoot!

Kahoot! is a website that allows you to create questions and turn any type of multiple-choice question into a gameshow format.  In the next Shawn’s Corner segment, we’ll look at all the different ideas we have for making Kahoots, but in this one, let’s look at the basics and some considerations.

First of all, making the Kahoots. To sign up for an account and to view other people’s games, you need to go to

Once you have made your account, you can click on “discover” and type in your grammar point and the level you are looking for to find other people’s Kahoots.  Try, for example, Present Perfect A2, Conditionals B2, Sports A2, Linking Words, etc.  These are just a few ideas!

To make your own, click on Create.  In a nutshell, you write a question and must provide between 2 and 4 answers.  You can time the questions and add as many as you like.  We’ll look more at this in a future session.  My suggestion is that you find the one you like, click on “duplicate” and then modify it to get the hang of the platform.

So let’s move on to our next part, which is student interaction.

When you play with students, you will refer them to the site or they can download the app.  You should normally project the game on a screen so that students can see the game.  Because the question options do not appear on the phone, it has the advantage that all students will pay attention to the board.  They only look at their phones the moment they are answering. They will become very involved and it’s a very energetic experience, so it’s a great way to finish off a class.  Basically, you can do the whole content of a worksheet in a short time with a lot more attention. It’s memorable, saves paper and gets students engaged.

If you’d like to view some of the Kahoots I’ve made or adapted from other Kahoot users, please do a search for “Shawnito”.  Look for the creator as a “shawnito” and you’ll know that it’s one that I’ve used or made, from 5th grade level on up through university student levels.

So, because you really do give a hoot, why don’t you give a Kahoot!  Learning will happen during the game.

Watch again on Facebook.

Use TED Talks for Language Practice

Have you been to lately?  What’s your favorite talk?  Is it the one by Sir Ken Robinson on “Do Schools Kill Creativity?  Is it Susan Cain on “The Power of Introverts”?

Ted Talks carry strong messages and innovative ideas. They’re up-to-date, appealing and powerful.  But how can we use these for teaching English?  After all, they talk really fast.

Well there are 3 ways, each with three different qualities.

1. TED-Ed

Many teachers like us have contributed ESL lesson plans.  They may be on topics associated with TED talks or even some are just original ideas.  The lessons are comprised of a video, followed by questions to make students think.  Then there are further references which may be useful for students to read or for you to prepare for your lesson.


2. with interactive transcript

Going back to the regular site, there are often articles associated with the talks themselves, which make useful reading comprehension exercises and they can also be useful for determining what vocabulary to pre-teach.  You can also use this as an exercise to practice pronunciation and look at language. This can really promote autonomy and engagement.  Motivated students can watch part of the talk, then read and then listen again to compare their pronunciation to that of the TED speaker.

3. TED NPR Radio Hour

The third way of using TED is very useful for adults and also a treat for us teachers:  if you go to Googleplay and download the Podcasts app on your Android phone or, for you iPhone or iPad users, if you look for the Podcasts app, you can use any kind of smartphone to subscribe to the TED Radio Hour prepared by NPR, National Public Radio.  Every week parts of TED talks are gathered around 1 topic and then there are interviews with the speakers.  In the end, those great ideas are presented in a more accessible way.

So, these are the 3 ways that you can use TED to bring great language (and ideas!) to your learners. 

Watch again on Facebook.

The Giving Tree Project

In this Shawn’s corner, we are going to take a peak at a project related to the book “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.

Here’s what you can do to make your own giving tree with your students.

For younger students, you can list different emotions that one would feel while hearing the story, such as:

  • I was amazed
  • It was amazing
  • It was sad
  • The tree was happy
  • I was surprised
  • It was surprising
  • I was confused
  • It was annoying

Notice here that it’s a great practice for differentiating between adjectives with -ed or -ing.  After all, it’s not the same to be bored as it is to be boring!

For older students, you can practice the third conditional.  Tell them to note down facts as to reasons why the boy took things from the tree.  Afterwards, they can write up sentences for others to explain like “If the boy hadn’t wanted to travel far away, he wouldn’t have cut the tree down.” 

So imagine, this part of the book:

Students could be surprised that….

If the tree hadn’t offered to ….., then ….

After reading, I gave my students tracing paper for them to trace around some printed leaves shapes I found.  You could also just print out a copy of leaves for each student or have them draw their own.  I just had a few minutes for artwork, so I wanted this to be fast.

Then I made a tree trunk out of cardboard and the students hung up their leaves around the tree.

That’s how we made our own Giving Tree, while talking about emotions and some hypothetical situations.

Hope your students enjoy the project and take benefit from this timeless and meaningful story. 

Watch again on Facebook.

Introducing Shawn’s Corner — The Plan

April 2   What is Shawn’s Corner?
Teacher Training at International House Porto is committed to sharing new ideas and giving support to teachers in our area. We have a tradition of quality trainers who work hard to innovate and bring the best there is in English language teacher to our community. That’s why, on top of our extensive teacher training programme (Coffee@IH, You@IH and IT@IH), we are proud to introduce Shawn’s Corner!
In Shawn’s Corner, we will share tips, ideas, projects and food for thought as well as have mini-tutorials and provide links to good materials. In just a couple minutes, teachers can take away some new, motivating ideas. We’ll be in touch with you on a weekly basis, on Tuesdays. And then, we hope to see you at our Wednesday sessions. Please check out for more info and to sign up to attend!

Watch again on Facebook.

Shawn’s Corner Programme

April 9  The Giving Tree Project

April 16  Using TED Talks for Language Practice

April 23  Give a Kahoot!  (intro)

April 30  Different kinds of Kahoots!

May 7  From student to teacher:  Students helping make Kahoots!

May 14  Getting creative with video

May 21  Wordless picture books —  a sneak peak

May 28  Getting grammar and language out of picture books

June 4   IT@IH for T’s: goals and opportunities

June 11  Using Prezi in speaking practice exercises

June 18  Focus on one of the “10 things to do in 2019”

June 25  IT@IH starts next week! Your chance to build your skills!

IT @ IH – Improving our practice, having fun & reaching out to our students by Shawn Severson

Teachers with practice and experience have so much background knowledge and so much insight into the language learning process. They know the language, inside and out. They know the demands of school curricula, metas and language acquisition. But when it comes to certain aspects of their language teaching, can we say they have “an accent”? As a matter of fact, we can. Paper, textbooks, notebooks and the lot are all fundamental, but not being able to add in some of the digital content that is out there, means that a teacher has a bit of an accent as far as speaking the language of “21st Century Skills”. That’s why we’ve been working on our IT@IH course, first starting with our own teachers, looking at ways to further their practice, in an IT @ IH 1.2 course (to use the language of the Internet).

And let the IT @ IH 1.1 course begin! [pronunciation: eye tea at eye aitch one point one] Two of the most fundamental aspects of using technology is overcoming fear of technology and seeing need for what technology has to offer. That’s why after just reviewing some of the more basic skills we went into visually appealing and language-rich materials using video, image and text. Before our eyes, we could see how we could turn a short videoclip into a resource to lead students in predicting the story. Not only that, we also downloaded the video and saved it for future use. By the end, we could download a video, take images from our screens, and put this image in a document along with text. We could take a picture of an unchangeable .pdf document and get it into a worksheet. That frustrating thing of images pictures jumping around in our Word document, we learned how to stop. In short, we had made some great resources to reach out to our students. Our “accent” was already getting better.

From there, we imagined ourselves in “assessment time”, working with Excel to calculate test grades. Not such a captivating module, but one necessary nonetheless. We laid out the marking scheme and created formulas. When we put in the information of our fake students’ scores, we could see their grades developing in percentage, the class average and also the number of times correct. To finish it off, we made some idiom flashcards in Word to make a resource we could use for teaching and also as a pelmanism/memory game.

To round it off, we worked with PowerPoint to make our own presentations. Using the skills we had acquired working with image from the Word module, we put video, audio, pictures and text into PowerPoint. For the final test, we saved the file in the way we had discussed so that we could open up all of that catchy media on someone else’s computer. (Have you ever had that bad experience of having a PowerPoint with a video and opening it up on another computer and received the message “cannot find video file”? Well, we learned how to avoid that.) Mission accomplished! Sound, image and customized materials for student interaction made and ready to go.

The last module of IT @ IH 1.1 is about exploring and having fun – online tools for ELT teachers. To make a list of the tools here without showing how they work would simply not do those tools justice. So, let’s just say we had a lot of collaboration, a bit of competition, culture galore, communication unfolding, a fair amount of critical thinking and creavity?—yes, you guessed it, we were creative and certainly working on getting rid of our “digital accents”!

Conference in Viana do Castelo – Centro Britânico

Centro Britânico in Viana do Castelo is holding a conference day on the 25th November. This is a great opportunity for teachers to attend some sessions especially created for them. The conference is also credited, so you can get credit for your professional development. here’s the description from their website:

“To commemorate our 20th anniversary of “Teaching with Passion”, Centro Britânco do Alto Minho (CBAM) is proud to organize a one-day conference for all English teachers, whether you teach at the primary level, teach middle school or teach teenagers in secondary school. Come join us and a team of professionals from the world of ELT who will be in Viana do Castelo to share their ideas and resources. Ideas to foster creative engagement in your English classroom.”

To sign up visit their website here.

Programa Conference

IH Porto TT Newsletter – June edition

The academic year is almost over and it’s time for recharging our batteries and look back on what we’ve achieved this year. With that in mind we’ve compiled this brief Teacher Training Newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading it. Also, our new programme will be released soon, so keep an eye on our Teacher Training Page to learn all about it.  It’s been an amazing year and we can’t thank you enough for having been a part of it.

See you soon!