English Skillology, Level 4

Level 4: Advanced
Level 3: High Intermediate
Level 1: Beginner

I am now 3/4 of the way to my goal of creating an extra credit choice menu for each level I teach. At the most basic level, English Skillology is a choice menu. It includes four activities for each of the five skill areas in ESL: reading, writing, speaking, listening, and grammar. Inspired by a Monopoly-style choice menu of someone else’s, I decided to use a game board format for my own. Each skill is a side (grammar is in the corners), and has its own color. Students are then free to choose the number and type of activities they want to complete by the end of the semester. In creating the activities for each board I considered two different sets of standards and learning outcomes: those of the college where I teach and the Common Core. Level one (beginners) is aligned to the third grade Common Core, level three (high intermediate) is aligned to the seventh grade Common Core, and level four (advanced) is aligned to the ninth-tenth grade Common Core. Level two is in the works and will be aligned to the fifth grade Common core. You can read the previous posts (linked above) for details on the level one and three English Skillologies, here are the details about the activities in level four:

Reading:

  • Contranym Context Clues: A contranym is a word that has opposing definitions. This activity, a small piece of a larger board game, asks students to read nine sentences and choose the correct definition for the underlined word.
  • Oxymorons: Understanding figurative language is difficult for English learners and oxymorons can be especially confusing. This activity asks students to define each of the two words forming the nine oxymorons and then define the oxymoron itself.
  • CER & CRAAP Check: This is a one slide version of the free graphic organizer based assignment I often use with my reading class. Students choose an article from a major news outlet and make notes about the claim, evidence, and reasoning present. They then examine the article to find information regarding the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose of it.
  • Main Idea & Detail: Identifying the main idea and details of entire texts can be a difficult task. This task asks students to read the text from Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech (taken from CommonLit) and then summarize the main idea and details in a manner of their own choosing (paragraph, graphic organizer, outline…).

Speaking

  • Sixty Second Summary (SSS): It’s relatively easy to summarize something when it can be as long as you want, there’s no need to make decisions regarding what to include and what to leave out. It is far more difficult to create a succinct summary, but that is what students are asked to do in this task. They have to read an article from NewsELA and, in sixty seconds or less, summarize the main idea and important details.
  • Informative Speech: Students are asked to use Online Voice Recorder to create a one to two minute informative speech about a topic of their choosing.
  • Pronunciation Challenge: Reading homophones is a big challenge, the only way to know which pronunciation to use is by the context. This activity asks students to record themselves reading ten sentences with homophone pairs in them. The challenge is to correctly pronounce all of the words.
  • One of a Kind: Everyone has something that is unique about them, something that makes them one of a kind. In this final speaking activity, students are asked to record a one to two minute speech explaining why they are one of a kind.

Writing

  • Narrative: Students write a narrative of at least two paragraphs long using correct grammar and punctuation.
  • Acyrologia Proofreading: Acyrologia is an incorrect or inappropriate use of words. Students are asked to retype a paragraph containing many examples of acyrologia using correct vocabulary and spelling. The paragraph is taken from a meme that has been floating around the internet and I do not know the original source.
  • Informative: Students are asked to write an informative essay of at least two paragraphs using correct grammar and punctuation.
  • Inferring Cause and Effect: Taken from my free Cause and Effect Pictures activity, students are asked to infer the cause and effect of each picture.

Listening

  • How to Tie Your Shoes: Students watch a short TED Talk and complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two ways of tying your shoes.
  • Word Stress Makes A Difference: The sentence, “I never said she stole my money” has a different meaning depending on the stressed word. Students are asked to write the meaning of each sentence based on the stressed word.
  • CER & CRAAP: Students are asked to listen to a TED Talk and read the speaker’s biography before completing a one slide version of the CER and CRAAP graphic organizer again.
  • Have a Meeting? Take a Walk: Students again watch a TED Talk, this time completing a graphic organizer about the main idea, details, things they learned, and questions they still have.

Grammar

  • Relative Pronouns and Adjective Clauses: In a shortened drag-and-drop version of my Relative Clause Memory / Relative Clause Digital Task Cards activity, students drag the correct relative pronoun to connect each noun to the adjective clause.
  • Academic Vocabulary Context Clues: This activity is also a small portion of a much larger game, Academic Vocabulary Connect Four, a supplemental activity to my 30 Weeks of Academic Vocabulary Units. Students read a sentence and use context clues to write their own definition for the underlined vocabulary word.
  • Idiomatic Figurative Language: These five sentences from my Idiom Jeopardy game each contain a baseball-themed idiom (the idioms can also be found in my Play Ball, Ameila Bedila Idioms sort activity). Students are asked to read the sentence and write a sentence that explains the meaning of the underlined idiom.
  • Ranking Synonyms: This final activity combines my French Fry Synonyms sort with our Shades of Meaning activity. Students are asked to drag-and-drop five synonyms for each overused word and place them in order from weakest to strongest.

So how did I create this extra credit menu? In the most general terms, here are the steps I took:

  1. I designed the choice menu and each activity slide in PowerPoint.
  2. I then saved those slides as images that I uploaded as backgrounds for the various slides (I use the add-on Slides Toolbox for this). This was to prevent any accidental (or not-so-accidental) deletions or edits by students.
  3. I added text boxes. Once again, in order to prevent unwanted deletions and edits I took steps. This time I made use of the master slide (now called theme builder). Under Slide, click Edit Theme. This will allow you to add and edit various slide layouts. I simply created master slides that included text boxes in the locations I needed them.
  4. I added videos for the students. The listening assignments, and a few others, required students to listen to a talk, or watch a short video. I inserted theses on the proper slides by clicking Insert and Video. This allowed me to find the video on YouTube and put it directly on the slide. Having the video on the slide has many benefits but the three most important to me are: no need to go to an outside site (less chance of clicking our way to distraction), advertisements are eliminated from the video, as well as watch next suggestions (again, less chance of distraction), I can choose when the video starts and ends (so if the beginning or ending is not relevant I can tell it to skip those parts).
  5. I set up the hyperlinks so when students choose an activity (by clicking on it in the menu) they will be automatically taken to the correct slide to complete it. I did this by drawing a square over each of the boxes in my menu. I then made the square and its border clear (tip: don’t make the square clear until after you’ve done the hyperlink so you can remember which links are finished and which aren’t). To make the shape a hyperlink, I click on it, clicked Insert Link in the menu bar (looks like a link in a chain), chose “Slides in this Presentation,” the number of the slide I wanted, and apply. 
  6. Finally, I added a “Game Board” button to each of the activity slides so students could quickly return to the choice menu from anywhere in the document. To do this I inserted a rectangle, put the text “Game Board” in it, and then used the Insert Link tool to link to the first slide. Once I did the fist one, I was able to copy and paste it onto all of the other slides.

English Skillology levels one and three were very popular the last couple of semesters and I’m hoping level four will be as well. As I mentioned before, level two is in process and I’m hoping to have it for next semester (especially since I’m teaching two level one classes so I’ll probably use it for extra credit in one of the classes). You can download all three levels of English Skillology for free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Happy teaching, everyone!


Need some of those links again? Try these buttons for quick access to the free English Skillology Choice Menus:

English Skillology, Level 1

Level 1
Level 3

This past summer I decided to have an answer ready for the inevitable, “Can I do extra credit?” question. I created a choice menu of four activities for each of the five domains (reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar). I called my extra credit menu English Skillology, and it was a big hit. It was such a hit with my high intermediate students, that I decided to make one for my beginning students.  The level three English Skillology menu (available for free from the original blog post linked above) was based off of seventh grade Common Core Standards and the Core Competencies for the ESL department at the college where I teach. The level one English Skillology menu (also available for free by clicking the picture or this link) is also based off the Core Competencies of our department, but the Common Core Standards come from the third grade ELA set.

At the most basic level, English Skillology is a choice menu. It includes four activities for each of the five skill areas in ESL: reading, writing, speaking, listening, and grammar. Inspired by a Monopoly-style choice menu of someone else’s, I decided to use a game board format for my own. Each skill is a side (grammar is in the corners), and has its own color. Students are then free to choose the number and type of activities they want to complete by the end of the semester. If a student were to complete all of the activities, he/she would earn 120 extra credit points.

​I designed this particular board for my beginning students. In creating the activities I consulted two different sets of objectives: third grade Common Core ELA and the Core Competencies for my department at the college where I teach. Here’s a quick overview of the 20 activities:
Reading

  • Main Idea and Details:  Students read a brief selection about the Statue of Liberty and answer five questions about the main idea and details.
  • Text Features Sort: This is a small part of a larger Text Features Sort activity (paper and digital versions available). Students match definitions and pictures to seven different text features by dragging and dropping them into the correct boxes.
  • Compare and Contrast: Students read the story of Little Red Riding Hood and watch a movie version of it. They then complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two versions.
  • Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement: One part of a larger pronoun activity pack (paper and digital versions available), students drag and drop the correct pronoun over the underlined noun(s) in each sentence.

Speaking

  • Introduction: Students will use Screencastify, or another program of their choosing, to record a 1-2 minute introduction of themselves.
  • Informative: Students will use Screencastify, or another program of their choosing, to record a 1-2 minute informative speech about a topic of their choosing.
  • Narrative: Students will use OnlineVoiceRecorder, or another program of their choosing, to record a 1-2 minute story.
  • Tourist Advice: Students pretend their closest friend is going to visit their home country and give a 1-2 minute speech giving advice about what to see. This is a small part of a writing activity I have done many times.

Writing

  • Descriptive Writing: Similar to my Describe That Picture activity, students choose a beautiful picture and insert it on the slide. They then write a paragraph describing the picture.
  • Informative Writing: Students write at least one paragraph giving information on the topic of their choosing.
  • Myth or Legend: After reading the provided example, students retell a myth or legend from their home country.
  • Narrative: Students write a narrative, of at least one paragraph in length, on a topic of their choosing.

Listening

  • The Incredibles: Students watch a short clip from the movie and answer five questions about it.
  • The Blind Side: Students watch a short clip from the movie and answer five questions about it.
  • Pronoun Problem: Students watch a short clip from a Bugs Bunny episode and answer five questions about the pronouns used.
  • The Electoral College Explained: Students watch a TED Ed video and complete a graphic organizer about it.

Grammar

  • Subject-Verb Agreement: A small piece of a larger activity Have or Has: School Supply Rush (paper and digital versions available), students drag the provided circles around the correct word (have/has) to complete each sentence.
  • Conjunctions: Another sample from a larger activity, Conjunctions: The Tie That Binds (paper activity and digital self-grading task card versions available), asks students to drag and drop the correct conjunction to combine the two sentences.
  • Possessive or Contraction: In this small piece of Possessive Noun or Contraction? It All Comes Out In The Wash (paper and digital versions available), students drag each t-shirt to the correct washing machine to indicate if the word/phrase on the shirt is possessive or a contraction.
  • Singular or Plural Nouns: Students drag and drop the nouns into the correct column, sorting them by singular or plural.

So how did I create this extra credit menu? In the most general terms, here are the steps I took:

  1. I designed the choice menu and each activity slide in PowerPoint.
  2. I then saved those slides as images that I uploaded as backgrounds for the various slides (I use the add-on Slides Toolbox for this). This was to prevent any accidental (or not-so-accidental) deletions or edits by students.
  3. I added text boxes. Once again, in order to prevent unwanted deletions and edits I took steps. This time I made use of the master slide. Under Slide, click Edit Master. This will allow you to add and edit various slide layouts. I simply created master slides that included text boxes in the locations I needed them.
  4. I added videos for the students. The listening assignments, and a few others, required students to listen to a talk, or watch a short video. I inserted theses on the proper slides by clicking Insert and Video. This allowed me to find the video on YouTube and put it directly on the slide. Having the video on the slide has many benefits but the three most important to me are: no need to go to an outside site (less chance of clicking our way to distraction), advertisements are eliminated from the video, as well as watch next suggestions (again, less chance of distraction), I can choose when the video starts and ends (so if the beginning or ending is not relevant I can tell it to skip those parts.
  5. I set up the hyperlinks so when students choose an activity (by clicking on it in the menu) they will be automatically taken to the correct slide to complete it. I did this by drawing a square over each of the boxes in my menu. I then made the square and its border clear (tip: don’t make the square clear until after you’ve done the hyperlink so you can remember which links are finished and which aren’t). To make the shape a hyperlink, I click on it, clicked Insert Link in the menu bar (looks like a link in a chain), chose “Slides in this Presentation,” the number of the slide I wanted, and apply. 
  6. Finally, I added a “Game Board” button to each of the activity slides so students could quickly return to the choice menu from anywhere in the document. To do this I inserted a rectangle, put the text “Game Board” in it, and then used the Insert Link tool to link to the first slide. Once I did the fist one, I was able to copy and paste it onto all of the other slides.

I’m really excited about this particular project. It was a lot of work to put together but I believe it will be very valuable for my students. I especially like how it allows them to earn extra credit by participating in meaningful learning activities. Don’t forget to download your own copy of English Skillology from Teachers Pay Teachers today–it’s free!

English Skillology, Level 3

English Skillology (free)

It’s the first day of class, I’ve just handed out the syllabus, and I already know the two questions that are about to be asked: “What’s going to be on the final exam?” and “Can I do extra credit?” This year I decided to get ahead of the extra credit question. If I am going to give extra credit points, I want the students to actually participate in meaningful work to earn them. I also tend to struggle with coming up with extra meaningful work for them to do. Enter English Skillology, my latest genius (I hope!) idea for getting ahead of my students. 

At the most basic level, English Skillology is a choice menu. It includes four activities for each of the five skill areas in ESL: reading, writing, speaking, listening, and grammar. Inspired by a Monopoly-style choice menu of someone else’s, I decided to use a game board format for my own. Each skill is a side (grammar is in the corners), and has its own color. Students are then free to choose the number and type of activities they want to complete by the end of the semester. If a student were to complete all of the activities, he/she would earn 120 extra credit points.

​I designed this particular board for my high intermediate students (I hope to create at least three more boards, one for each of the proficiency levels I teach.). In creating the activities I consulted two different sets of objectives: seventh grade Common Core ELA and the Core Competencies for my department at the college where I teach. Here’s a quick overview of the 20 activities:
Reading

  • Author’s Purpose: 9 different genres/types of writing are listed, and students have to say what is most likely the author’s purpose in writing and why. 
  • Different Media: Students are provided with the text of Androcles and the Lion, and a short video of the same story. The task is to compare and contrast the two accounts.
  • Inferences: Clues to the identity of six different people/things/places are given. Students must make an inference of the thing being described, insert a picture of it, and write a sentence explaining why they came to that conclusion. (This is actually a small piece of my board game It Might Be…Inferences with Modal Verbs available in both paper and digital formats.)
  • News Comparison: Students find two articles, from two different sources, about the same event/topic, read each, and compare/contrast the two accounts using a Venn Diagram.

Speaking

  • Infomercial: Students will use Screencastify, or another program of their choosing, to record a 1-2 minute infomercial. An example video is provided.
  • News Report: Students will use Screencastify, or another program of their choosing, to record a 1-2 minute news report. An example video is provided.
  • Informative Speech: Students will use OnlineVoiceRecorder, or another program of their choosing, to record a 1-2 minute speech.
  • Elevator Pitch: Students will use OnlineVoiceRecorder, or a program of their choosing, to record a 30-60 second elevator pitch. Links to articles describing elevator pitches and how they can help one’s career are provided.

Writing

  • Active or Passive: Students read six different sentences about Dr. Seuss characters, drag the X to mark if the sentence is active or passive, and then rewrite the sentence as its opposite type. (This is a small piece of my Active of Passive Voice with Dr. Seuss Task Cards, available in both paper and digital formats.)
  • CER Advertisement Discernment: Students will locate and then copy and paste an advertisement from the internet. Students must then identify and describe the claim, evidence, and reasoning presented in the advertisement. (The full version of this activity is available in my TpT store.)
  • Informative Essay: Students write an informative essay, of at least one paragraph in length, on a topic of their choosing.
  • Narrative: Students write a narrative, of at least one paragraph in length, on a topic of their choosing.

Listening

  • 5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams: Students listen to the TEDTalk and complete the outline notes.
  • A Skateboard With A Boost: Students listen to the TEDTalk and complete the vocabulary and comprehension questions.
  • Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance: Students listen tot he TEDTalk and record three things they learned, two questions they have, and write a short paragraph reflection.
  • Why I’m A Weekday Vegetarian: Students listen to the TEDTalk and complete the persuasion graphic organizer.

Grammar

  • Relative Clauses: Pretending to play Taboo, students will write three clues for each item/person/place, being sure to avoid the listed disallowed words. (This is a small part of the game Relative Clause Taboo, available in my TpT store.)
  • Prefixes & Suffixes: Students will drag and rearrange the puzzle pieces to complete the six puzzles. Each completed puzzle lists an affix, a root word, a new word, a definition for the affix, a definition for the new word, and a photo. (This is a small part of level 2 of my prefix and suffix puzzles, available in both digital and paper formats: level 1 paperlevel 1 digitallevel 2 paperlevel 2 digitalpaper bundledigital bundle.)
  • Synonyms: Students will drag the synonyms to the correct box to match them to the overused words. (The full version of this activity, French Fry Synonyms, is available in both paper and digital formats.)
  • Gerund / Infinitive: Students will type the correct form of the word in parenthesis. (The complete task card set is available in both paper and digital formats, as well as a Google Form version.)

So how did I create this extra credit menu? In the most general terms, here are the steps I took:

  1. I designed the choice menu and each activity slide in PowerPoint.
  2. I then saved those slides as images that I uploaded as backgrounds for the various slides (I use the add-on Slides Toolbox for this). This was to prevent any accidental (or not-so-accidental) deletions or edits by students.
  3. I added text boxes. Once again, in order to prevent unwanted deletions and edits I took steps. This time I made use of the master slide. Under Slide, click Edit Master. This will allow you to add and edit various slide layouts. I simply created master slides that included text boxes in the locations I needed them.
  4. I added videos for the students. The listening assignments, and a few others, required students to listen to a talk, or watch a short video. I inserted theses on the proper slides by clicking Insert and Video. This allowed me to find the video on YouTube and put it directly on the slide. Having the video on the slide has many benefits but the three most important to me are: no need to go to an outside site (less chance of clicking our way to distraction), advertisements are eliminated from the video, as well as watch next suggestions (again, less chance of distraction), I can choose when the video starts and ends (so if the beginning or ending is not relevant I can tell it to skip those parts.
  5. I set up the hyperlinks so when students choose an activity (by clicking on it in the menu) they will be automatically taken to the correct slide to complete it. I did this by drawing a square over each of the boxes in my menu. I then made the square and its border clear (tip: don’t make the square clear until after you’ve done the hyperlink so you can remember which links are finished and which aren’t). To make the shape a hyperlink, I click on it, clicked Insert Link in the menu bar (looks like a link in a chain), chose “Slides in this Presentation,” the number of the slide I wanted, and apply. 
  6. Finally, I added a “Game Board” button to each of the activity slides so students could quickly return to the choice menu from anywhere in the document. To do this I inserted a rectangle, put the text “Game Board” in it, and then used the Insert Link tool to link to the first slide. Once I did the fist one, I was able to copy and paste it onto all of the other slides.

I’m really excited about this particular project. It was a lot of work to put together but I believe it will be very valuable for my students. I especially like how it allows them to earn extra credit by participating in meaningful learning activities. Don’t forget to download your own copy of English Skillology from Teachers Pay Teachers today–it’s free!