Category Archives: TECHNOLOGY



NowComment is a site for collaboration and discussions to engage students.  It can be used for brainstorming for reading and writing classes as well as collecting feedback.


Collocations with “make”

Collocations with “make”

As students find it difficult to learn with verbs go with which other words, they frequently male lexical mistakes. Their lack of vocabulary hinders all their language skills especially while especially speaking and writing. 



However, collocation maps like the one above are very helpful for them to learn the targetted vocabulary in collocations. Preparing such a collocation chart is very easy. I have used simple word document tools while preparing the one above. It is also possible to prepare similar ones using mindmapping tools such as “text2mindmap”

A few tips to deal with collocation maps :

  1. After introducing the collocations to students and making sample sentences with them , you can ask your students to work  in pairs to write sentences. Afer checking and correcting the sentences the pairs have written, cut them in strips each of which has got one of the collocations practised. Then,   you can group the students in threes and ask each group to pick one strip. When they pick the strip tell them whether they are supoosed to use the sentence in the strip with a collocation in it  as the beginning or the ending sentence of the short story they are going to write. Tell the students that they have 5 minutes to discuss and decide on the setting, the characters and the events in their story and allow them 10 minutes to write their story as a group. After collecting the stories they have written and checking them, give the stories back to the students so that they can illustrate it with pictures, prepare a comic strip using the story or a poster to display on the class wall .
  2. Another activity you can do with the collocations is to ask students to form their own groups of 4 and to write a story using as many of the collocations as possible. The group that uses the most of them win the game. The time I allowed for my situdents was 15 minutes. Actually, I gave them a setting, some of the characters and a situation so that they could write more easily. After they finished their stories , they read it out loud in the class. Then I collected the stories so that I can check their mistakes. After checking their stories I gave the story to a member of another group to do the peer check and allowed then three days so that they couls spend more time on the story . They brought their stories written on a powerpoint document and illustrated with pictures. Finally I asked them a member from each group to upload their ppt stories on  in order to add voice to their ppts. They really enjoyed working on their ppts, and after their voiced ppts were ready, they uploaded them on our class’ edmodo account to share them with the rest of the class.





JING : A practical tool to take screen shots and to share them !

JING is a very practical tool to take screen shots, to capture short videos and to share them with others ot to use them in your documents. I highly recommend you watch the instructional video(s) right after you download the application.




I use JING in a number  of ways. For example,  while preparing infographics or powerpoint presentations , it is really helpful.  Below is an example how I used it in my writing class while we were brainstorming  on how to narrow down the topic to provide background information. I am sure you can come up with several other ways to use JING 🙂

YARCAN 06 08 2014

Penzu : A great free online diary and personal journaling tool


The role of keeping diaries and personal journals in learning a second language has always been appreciated. For years, I have advised students who want to improve their writing to keep diaries, and I still do . This time with  a slight difference though. Keeping a digital diary is what we have been practising for years now and t
here are some available web tool for that such as OneNote (, Evernote ( , and WordPress as well as the good old pen and paper. However, I personallt believe Penzu is totally different from then all in that it brings almost the same taste the tradition diaries. 
I have been usinpenzu 01g Penzu with my students for a couple of years now and what I have observed is that students love working with Penzu no matter whether they are working with it individually, in groups or as a class.  You can check out on the website how it is used  personally 🙂 
penzu 3
      penzu 2       penzu 4     
There are some tutorial videos on how you can activate, use and facilitate Penzu and Penzu Classroom has also been available for some time now. 
Here are some different ways how I have facilitated Penzu in my classes :
  • In A1 and A2 levels, students keep their Penzu diaries to practise writing by telling about themselves and others, describing themselves and others, describing their rooms, or their cities , narrating their past experiences. In these levels , I always  value the importance of pair work, so I ask them to keep pairs a  writing diary for themselves.  the two students in the pair check each other’s writing and finally I check  their entries .
  • I also encourage my students to keep their own dairies where they can attach photos or insert videos that they have shot through their mobiles. The good thing about Penzu is that you can allow whoever you like to see and / or edit your entries. Once I remember keeping  a class writing Penzu with my A2 writing class . The content of that Penzu was the completed above average writing tasks of students ,and believe it or not  my students competed with each other so that their task was chosen to be worthy of being displayed onthe class Penzu. What I was trying to do, though, was to provide them with a writing reference book based on their own tasks whcih they can go refer to while they were revising for the final exam 🙂
  • In B1, B2 and C1 levels , Penzu has served  perfectly well as my students’ writing portfolio where they keep all their drafts and essay finals 🙂
  • In one of my repeating A2  classes I had to keep more than one Penzu as they liked it very much and wanted me to keep a seperate for posting the homework , assignments and tasks as well as the anser keys :))

Below is the link where you have access to Penzu tutorial videos and the introductory video to Penzu.


Flubaroo : A web tool to prepare and check quizzes

Flubaroo  can be of grFLUBAROO 01eat help to teachers who suffer from not having enough time for preparing and checking quizzes.  It takes quite a short time to prepare and grade quizzes with the help of Flubaroo.

Besides, Flubaroo provides teachers with student performance reports and analysis. The grades and reports can be shared publicly in classrooms or in virtual classrooms. Also,  they can be  e-mailed to students individually along with a short comment and some advice on how to study to improve on the weaker points.

There is a short introductory video on the website as well as  some tutorials to guide teachers how to use the tool. 

Engaging grammar activities through films….

Engaging grammar activities through films !….

This is a wonderful blog devatoted to a variety of activities based on film segments . helps your students to learn vocabulary and collocations! helps your students to learn vocabulary and collocations!. helps your students to learn vocabulary and collocations!

text2mindmap 2 is a practical free  online tool  which can be used while introducing vocabulary and preparing vocabulary posters .

I generally use it to introduce vocabulary, and collocation as well as phrasal verbs.

Learning collocations is essential to be able to write; and enables students to learn collocations easily.

In my experience, what students find a challenge while writing paragraphs or essays is to provide the correct collocations. When collocations are introduced to students in mindmaps, students find them much easier easier to learn. is a free online tool you can use while introducing students with  phrasal verbs.

look phrasalsThe mind map on the left is what I used while introducing the phrasal verbs with the verb “look”. After I reflected the phrasal verbs on the whiteboard, we first went over each one, and I wrote one sample sentence for each one. Next, I  asked my students to produce one sample sentence for each one of them. Then, I grouped the students in four and assigned them to write a paragraph using as many of the phrasal verbs in the mind map as possible. While they were writing their paragraphs, I walked around the classroom  visiting each group. I observed what they were writing, made some corrections and answered their questions. After they all finished their paragraphs, I collected their paragraphs and checked them. The next day, I allowed them to spend five more minutes  on their tasks, namely on their paragraphs so that they could correct the indicated mistakes discussing in their groups. I collected the papers again to make the final corrections. The last step to complete the task was to ask them to write their final draft on a word document illustrating it with relevant pictures from the web, and send the final draft to me. Well, I thought I could even go further with the exercise.  After collecting the six paragraphs my students wrote, I prepared six cloze tests based on their stories using, which I had written about in my previous post. The cloze test I prepared  targeted to check only the phrasal verbs with ‘look’. Every Monday during the following six weeks, I used one cloze test to revise the phrasal verbs  on ‘look’

have phrasals 1have phrasals

In A1 level, I introduced the collocations of the verb ‘have’ using  I followed quite a similar procedure to the one I have explained about .

I also refer to in my writing classes while brainstorming to generate ideas for writing classes.

writing mind mapI go to and write the topic in the editing box.

After grouping the students in fours or fives, I allow them 5 minutes  to brainstorm on the topic so that they can come up with ideas, and tell them that they they should write their ideas in the editing box within five minutes.

When the time is over, we end up with several ideas, then I give the groups another five minutes  to discuss how they can  justify their ideas by explaining it, providing details and giving examples.  Next, each group justifies their ideas and others take notes while they are talking. After that we vote to choose the best three ideas to write about in the body paragraphs of our essay. Then, students writing their group essays. They write the introduction paragraph together . This is a great chance for them to practise speaking because they need to discuss how to narrow it down and agree on one solid thesis statement.  After they complete their introduction, each member of the group focuses on one body paragraph and using the notes they have taken, they complete writing their individual body paragraphs.

Before adding their body paragraphs to the introduction they have written together,  they peer check what they have written and finally, they write up the essay and hand it in to me.

The tasks above are some of how I use  in my classes and I am sure you can come up with a wider  and more amazing variety of ideas on this.

Nice Grammar and Vocabulary Posters by



I have been following the blog  for some time now and have shared several of the posters published there with my students, who find them helpful in terms of summarizing what they have studied and providing visual help to go over some vocabulary and grammar items.  The posters are accompanied by games and / or some exercises too, and I believe this makes it more enjoyable both for  teachers and students.

The poster above is a nice example from and it also provides some games and exercises. After students revise the theory over the poster, they them practise using defining relative clauses with games such as Defining relative clauses – Penalty  and Defining relative clauses – En Garde . Finally , they can do the cloze test too.  Defining relative clauses – Cloze test.

I definitely believe your students will enjoy practising with : An online cloze test creator : An online cloze test creator.