Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Book Review: '700 Classroom Activities' by Seymour & Popova

700 Classroom Activities
Instant Lessons for Busy Teachers
David Seymour & Maria Popova
MacMillan Education 2005
ISBN 9781405080019

Publisher's Website
From the blurb: 700 Classroom Activities provides an instantly accessibly repertoire of practical teaching ideas. It contains a range of activities, including both familiar favourites and new ideas at a range of levels from elementary to upper intermediate. The clear structure makes it easy to find activities to supplement coursebooks, and comprehensive instructions make them easy to use. All of the activities are ready to teach, with no photocopying required.



TO ENTER: Easy! Write to competition@hotchpotchenglish.com and say '700'!
~ EXTENDED until Friday: 24th August, 2012!!! ~

Short, juicy, delightful, delectable. It's hard to believe that within this relatively slim volume there is as much collected wisdom as any teacher might wish to have in a lifetime of teaching, never mind a month of Sundays.

All the classics are there, along with a plethora of marvellous new ideas, all immediately actionable, all photocopiless (new word, sez my spellcheck), all valuable and fun. And if that's not what any new or experienced teacher needs, I don't know what is.

It's extremely difficult to review a book of teaching ideas without either listing examples, which would be self-defeating (especially considering there are 700 of them), or just saying that it's good, or not, which would be banal.

To try and get around this problem and create an article worth reading nevertheless, I'll open the book at random and tell you what I find. Appropriately enough, it's called...

Bare Necessities
In pairs, brainstorm a list of the twenty most important things that you need on a day-to-day basis and put them in order from most to least important. See how your list and order compares with another pair.

What is the bare minimum that a person needs to survive? List a few other things that people say they need, but that might not in fact be necessary.

I can already imagine hilarious discussions as to whether tooth brushes and underpants are part of the bare minimum...

As it happens this is a good example of the feel of the book, if the majority of the activities are a bit longer and with more exercises incorporated.

It also illustrates the approach of getting the students talking and extending the activity when language ability permits.

700 Classroom Activities does have a certain structure to it; it's divided into four sections: Conversation; Functions; Grammar; Vocabulary. These sections are further divided, so under functions you'll find groups of activities relating to Ability, Advice, Buying and Selling, Complaining and Criticising, Deduction, Describing and so on.

The grammar section offers an excellent range of activites for all the main structures such as the first, second and third conditionals and even stuff like reported speech and relative clauses.

The vocabulary section gets into things like Parts of the Body, Phrasal Verbs, Exclamations, Holidays, Numbers and a bunch of other stuff. You get the idea.

The real magic of 700 Classroom Activities is that you can virtually pick it up and go, if you're looking for a specific communicative activity, or simply open it at random and have an off the hoof activity which will have your students thinking you're a cool, organised and prepared teacher, which of course you are, you are...

Personally, if I were starting over, and I was in a book shop and spotted this title I'd snap it up in a jiffy. And take it from there. Dare I say that's maybe all I'd ever need? No, probably not!



TO ENTER: Easy! Write to competition@hotchpotchenglish.com and say '700'!
~ EXTENDED until Friday: 24th August, 2012!!! ~


Sab Will is, or has been, a freelance teacher, teacher trainer, director of studies, ELT writer, fanatical blogger, Facebook freak and website weirdo. He is also a well-known street photographer, abstract artist, poet and Paris city chronicler. The 'well-known' bit only applies to those who know him well, however.
Hotch Potch English: 'The ELT Resources Review Blog' ~ Book Review: "IELTS Express"
© 2012 Sab Will / Hotch Potch English

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