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Teaching Tips 143

Green routines
Counting words
Storming Away!

Green world
Green routines

It's World Environment Day on 5th June & there is the UN related site at: Here's what the site says:

This year’s theme for World Environment Day (WED) is Your Planet Needs You! UNite to Combat Climate Change. But too often we are presented with environmental problems without being given the tools to act. WED is about taking action to be a part of the solution. And the Daily do something Tips are a great start.

And here's the daily routine tip list - how to 'Green your Routine':



* It would seem to go without saying, but many of us forget that we can save water in simple ways like not letting the tap run while shaving, washing your face, or brushing your teeth.
* Insulating your water heater will help save valuable energy, and you can go the extra mile by installing showerheads with a low flow in your bathrooms for bathing purposes to help save water. You can also put a timer on your heaters to save power.
* Using an electric razor or hand razor with replaceable blades instead of disposable razors goes a long way to cutting back on waste. And plant a tree.
* Use towels for drying your face and hands instead of tissues that are used and thrown away. Also, hang your towels to dry so that they can be reused several times. You are after all clean when you use them!
* Juice or yoghurt lovers can do their bit by buying juice in concentrates and yoghurt in reusable containers instead of single serving packages.
* Many of us like to leaf through the paper as we munch on breakfast, but consider reading the dailies in communal spaces like the office or coffee shops. However, if you prefer to have your own copy, make sure you recycle!
* When packing your lunch, opt for reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping the food with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
* As you leave the house, don’t forget to switch off all the lights and appliances at the wall unit (if you have this feature) and unplug chargers as they continue to consume even if they are not charging; saving energy helps reduce air pollution.


* Don’t go anywhere without your cloth bag so you can just say no to plastic whenever you shop.
* Radical as it may seem, in today’s “the easier the better” society, the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is by avoiding driving altogether. Power down and Instead try biking, walking, carpooling, public transport or an occasional telecommute.
* If you have no other choice than to drive to work, look for the most fuel- efficient car model for your next purchase and keep your tyres inflated to the correct pressure.
* If you’re one of the lucky few blessed with clear stretches of road on your way to work, use cruise control, as it saves fuel and also helps you maintain a constant speed.
* If you’re among the majority of drivers who spend their mornings stuck in traffic, consider turning your engine off if you will be idling for long periods of time. And plant a tree.
* For those who suffer from road rage, remember that aggressive driving lowers your mileage, so if you want to save on fuel and save the planet while you’re at it, accelerate gradually-- something to keep that in mind the next time that bad driver cuts you off! Just count to 10 and say the planet needs me!


* Do you have a morning hot drink routine? Using a washable mug is an environmentally-friendly alternative to non-biodegradable styrofoam or plastic cups.
* Leave a cup and reusable bottle for water at work to eliminate buying drinks, which get served in plastic cups, or bottled water. 80% of plastic bottles are recyclable but only 20% are actually recycled.
* When you need a pad for lists and messages, turn over an old document and write on the back of that instead.
* If there isn’t an office recycling system, start one yourself! Recycling our trash actually contributes to reducing global warming emissions. And it is estimated that 75% of what is thrown in the trash could actually be recycled, though currently only 25% is.
* When you must have a paper copy, make sure you default your printer option to use both sides. This is an easy tree-saver!
* Most computer accessories like ink cartridges and CDs and DVDs are made of materials that could be reused. Computer cords and speakers are fairly standardized, meaning they can be used for a variety of computer models and makes.
* Lower your office’s carbon footprint by seeing computers, monitors, printers, copiers, speakers and other business equipment to their energy saving feature and turning them off at the end of the day. And plant a tree!
* Turning off all unnecessary lights, especially in unused offices and conference rooms is an easy way to save energy.
* If you’re in search of something to personalize your workspace, look no further than the humble houseplant. Houseplants are good for the environment because they remove quantities of pollutants present in the air.


* In the summer/warmer months, consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air-conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home. While you’re at it, in winter, lower your thermostat and put on a jumper. In summer, increase it and wear lighter clothes, you will also save money!
* Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat as it senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air-conditioner to run longer than necessary.
* When cooking dinner, match the size of the pan to the size of the heating element to lower energy wastage.
* When you are feeling at your laziest, don’t throw clean clothes in the hamper to avoid hanging them up! Wear jeans more than once…
* When you wash, use only eco-friendly products in your home. It’s best for you and the environment! And did we mention plant a tree!

This would make an appropriate text for jigsaw activity. Here's a short procedure:

1. Intro to the theme - elicit/tell the students the Day is celebrated on 5th June - good idea? have an effect? etc - get a response to the Day.

2. Introduce the idea of 'greening your routine' - elicit a few ideas on how one might do this - put the four categories on the board: At home, Getting to work, At work, After a long day.

3. Explain the task - 4 groups brainstorm first, then read, work on & discuss their parts of the text >> get together with one person from the other groups to share their information.

4. Put students into four groups - At home, Getting to work, At work, After a long day. They brainstorm ways that this area could be 'green', environmentally friendly.

5. Handout the texts - students quickly read to see if any of their ideas are in the text. They compare ideas within their group.

6. Direct them to a more intensive reading task - you will have to design this to suit the group. Students read & compare ideas.

7. Vocab focus - you might well have decided to pre-teach some crucial lexis before they read the first time - you decide. Here you might give a meaning from context or a word-definition matching task.

As the groups are working on all of these task, go round & help out, checking they are on the right track.

8. Before the information exchange - as there are a lot of ideas in the texts, get the students in their groups to decide on the top two ideas - this could be based on effectiveness & manageability.

9. Information exchange - explain that will get together with three other people, one from each other group = four students per group. They need to explain their top two ideas, listen to each other & decide as a group the top four ideas - this is the communicative purpose to the task, the reason they are getting together to exchange information.

10. Assign students to their new groups - they discuss. Monitor & take notes for feedback on language afterwards.

11. Feedback - on the content: what were the top four ideas & a personal response to the texts: which ideas do you already do/would you do in future?
- on the language: a pat on the back for things said & corrections.

12. Follow up work - you could move into some roleplays where they give each other advice on how to make their routines greener.

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Counting words

Since mentioning the 'Six word summaries' in the Tip a few weeks about - - I have come across several other limited word count writing ideas on the web.
The limitations on the word count asks your students to be as concise as possible which will improve their writing skills & hopefully these ideas will provide inspiration in your planning as they can easily be incorporated into the theme you are working with or as warmers, coolers & fillers in any lesson. And they are fun!

We've already discussed the Haiku - 3 lines: 5, 7, 5 syllables - - and
Cinquains - 5 lines: 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 syllables together with some content restrictions - .

Have a look at the following ideas & sites:

50-word mini-saga
And here are some examples from the site:

He was in the lobby when he saw her at the cafe across the street, looking as beautiful as he'd remembered.
He called her cell, thinking he would bound across the street and surprise her.
They kept on bantering, keeping it light, even as he watched her roll her eyes.

Swords clash, and rain falls. The battle will all day to win, but each soldier's fight is shorter.
I took his coin, I fought his war, I see how it will end. We footmen carved this breach in their lines.
And the King charges over our bodies, to his victory.

She was late. He was lost. In the pouring rain they raced for cover under the nearest canopy.
Her eyes, dark brown and guarded, met his, deep blue and clear. A pair of diffident smiles bridged the distance between them.
Forget time. Forget place. One look and they were home.

Checking in our baggage, we realized we had more than our allowance.
Between us, two ex-wives, one ex-husband, five kids, one dog and a cat.
"What's the excess baggage fee?" we chimed in unison.
The man behind the counter looked up from his keyboard and asked: "Did you pack all this yourselves?"

One sentence stories
One Sentence, true stories told in one sentence.
'One Sentence is about telling your story, briefly. Insignificant stories, everyday stories, or turning-point-in-your-life stories, boiled down to their bare essentials.'

ommatidia - fiction in 101 words:
'It's a constrained forced-writing experiment. I wanted to see if I could write 101 words, and exactly 101 words, of fiction five days a week. I started on July 18, 2003, and went public on June 21, 2004. There are over 1000 entries now. So far I’m doing okay. '

400 Words
'400 Words is a storytelling project. It is a print magazine and a website, consisting of short-short true stories by ordinary people on assigned themes.'

75 or less
'album reviews in 75 words or less (but words with 2 letters or fewer do not count)':

Short stories, endless nightmares.

Two Sentences
Two sentences to create tension:

The Four Word Film Review
'The fwfr is a film review site like no other - an ever expanding collection of extremely brief film reviews and summaries.
Submissions are welcomed from anyone- the only condition being no more than four words may be used.'

'Unphotographable is a catalog of exceptional mistakes. Photos never taken that weren't meant to be forgotten. Opportunities missed. Simple failures. Occasions when I wished I'd taken the picture, or not forgotten the camera, or had been brave enough to click the shutter.'

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Woman brainstorming

Storming Away!

I came across a link to '100 Online Brainstorming Tools to Help You Think Outside the Box' ( which reminded me of a past Tip on brainstorming. Here it is with some more on mind maps:

The Collins English Dictionary gives a definition of 'brainstorm' n. as:

1. a severe outburst of excitement, often as the result of a transitory disturbance of cerebral activity.

2. Brit. informal. a sudden mental aberration.

For this reason, some suggest not using the term 'brainstorm'. It has been suggested that 'brain (or mind) showers' might be more appropriate.

Brainstorming is a very useful activity in both teaching & training. The definition given of 'brainstorming' n. is:

- intensive discussion to solve problems or generate ideas.

This is more like it although still I'm not sure of the 'discussion' bit. It can be an individual activity, can't it?

Apparently brainstorming originating in 1941 with Alex Osborn, an advertising executive, who was looking for more creativity. He used the term 'think up', which later became 'brainstorming', as "a conference technique by which a group attempts to find a solution for a specific problem by amassing all the ideas spontaneously by its members". He formulated several rules to be followed by the group;

• No criticism of ideas

• Go for large quantities of ideas

• Build on each other's ideas

• Encourage wild and exaggerated ideas

When these were kept to a lot more ideas were created & within these he found more original ideas were coming out.

It is a very useful technique in our teaching & a healthy habit to encourage in our students. As you can see from the four 'rules' above it is also a very good technique for developing & consolidating group dynamics. Here are a few occasions when it might be used:

• pre-lesson brainstorming - tell your students what will be covered in the next lesson - this could be from the timetable you give out every two weeks - & they can then brainstorm what they can before they come to class. The readier they are the quicker you can get on & the more you will be able to cover. Tell your students that they'll be getting more for their money!

• to introduce a theme - get the students to throw out all the words they can think of to do with that area. The problem with this is that not everyone will know all the vocab & might want it clarifying which would take much longer. Just tell them that you'll be looking at the vocab through the theme & the aim here is to just sink into the area. You could get the stds to write all the vocab they know on the board - again they run into the same unknown vocab problem.

• pre-reading or listening - like the theme, get the stds to brainstorm all they know about the topic of the text they are about to read or listen. They could do this silently for 30 seconds, in pairs or as a group, depending on your aim. Same roles could storm together before splitting up into different roleplays.

• pre-roleplay - this is preparation time before a roleplay - they storm how they are going to act & what they are going to say.

• language presentations benefit from a storm at the beginning so that the new can be linked into the known. For example, a quick storm of ways of expressing the future before going on to look at the future perfect with an intermediate group.

• with process writing, brainstorming fits into the 'generating ideas' stage.

• problem solving activities to develop speaking & listening skills can be brainstorming sessions in themselves.

• mind mapping is an excellent way of storming ideas on paper, as well as a recording process.

Tony Buzan was the first to talk of mind maps. Here is a procedure for '7 Steps to Making a Mind Map' - use it with your students to help them make their own mind maps.

1. Start in the CENTRE of a blank page turned sideways. Why? Because starting in the centre gives your Brain freedom to spread out in all directions and to express itself more freely and naturally.
2. Use an IMAGE or PICTURE for your central idea. Why? Because an image is worth a thousand words and helps you use your Imagination. A central image is more interesting, keeps you focussed, helps you concentrate, and gives your Brain more of a buzz!
3. Use COLOURS throughout. Why? Because colours are as exciting to your Brain as are images. Colour adds extra vibrancy and life to your Mind Map, adds tremendous energy to your Creative Thinking, and is fun!
4. CONNECT your MAIN BRANCHES to the central image and connect your second- and third-level branches to the first and second levels, etc. Why? Because your Brain works by association. It likes to link two (or three, or four) things together. If you connect the branches, you will understand and remember a lot more easily.
5. Make your branches CURVED rather than straight-lined. Why? Because having nothing but straight lines is boring to your Brain.
6. Use ONE KEY WORD PER LINE. Why Because single key words give your Mind Map more power and flexibility.
7. Use IMAGES throughout. Why Because each image, like the central image, is also worth a thousand words. So if you have only 10 images in your Mind Map, it's already the equal of 10,000 words of notes! - There are lots of sample mind maps to print off to show your students.

While they do their mind maps have some coloured pens available for them to use. When your students have one each, stick them on the walls around the classroom for all to wander round to view & comment on.

Creating Your First Mind Map - another procedure to follow.

Mind map

Tony Buzan: Brain play - the never-ending story - an interview.

To try out Tony Buzan's excellent mindmapping software:

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