How to Pair or Group Students


When you tell your students “You three work together”, there will probably be some among the majority who will complain and tell that they don’t want to work with A or B in that group. They will sulk, they won’t contribute, isolate themselves or even worse they won’t let the other members work. However; if you do it randomly, and if you use a different technique from time to time, the complaints will be less. I’d like to share some of the methods I use to group or pair my students.


  1. Ask students to gather together as 1st child, middle child, younger child or single child of their families. Let them speak about the differences or similarities they experience for five minutes. Then tell them to report to the whole class and then tell them they will work together for the next activity.
  2. Ask students to gather together according to their zodiac signs. Let them speak for five minutes and find common things in their personalities. Then tell them to report to the whole class and Finally tell them they will work together for the next activity.
  3. Prepare 4-5 different card sets in different colors. Laminate them if possible and keep them in an envelope at the back of your lesson planning notebook, course book or file and use them to group your students. As all reds in one group, all greens in another group, etc.
  4. Tell students to line up according alphabetically, according to the months they were born in or heights, etc. Then team them as fours or fives regarding your activity.
  5. You can prepare cards with different shapes, pictures on them. Put them in a bag or a box, shuffle them and ask students to pick one. Then tell them they will work together with the ones who have the same picture, image on their cards.
  6. Bring smarties into the class, tell them they should only take one from the box and then group them according to the colour of the candy they chose. You can do this with mini mars, twix or sneakes bars as well. Put them in a box and ask them to pick one.
  7. Prepare slips of papers, tell your students to stand up, mingle around and find their partners. You can write anything on the slips of papers. For example, you can ask them to find their partners matching the a)sub clauses with main clauses, b)riddles with their answers, c) problems with the piece of advice, d) synonyms and antonyms, e)words you just studied with their definitions, etc.
  8. If you have a smart board in class, you can go to, click create group, write your students names and team them with the help of the tools.
  9. Choose some photos regarding the number of your class. Divide each photograph into four and put them in a box ask students to pick one piece and find the matching ones to work together.CLIPART_OF_16323_SM_2

My Reflections on #SLTEP, a Train the Trainer Program


This was not the first train the trainer course I attended but may be the magic was the magicians I (we) met there.

I attended SLTEP, a two-week train the trainer program ran by Sabanci University School of Languages. With our amazing tutors, Deniz Kurtoglu Eken, Meral Guceri and Sharon Celtek, we dived into the depths of teaching and learning. Sharing ideas, trying new techniques, playing new roles, we had the chance to brush up our previous knowledge and learn about new things, new perspectives.

For me, the program was very successful because although it was designed to “develop the knowledge, skills and awareness needed for effective teacher training“, it also gave lots of food for thought for the classes we teach. When the program finished and I came back home, I had thousands of ideas, happy memories, inspirations, that will guide me throughout my new journey which I’m planning to begin.

I’ve been teaching for a very long time and I DO love my job. It’s not just a job, actually. It’s a passion. However, at this stage, after teaching for 20 more years, I think I should also focus on more teacher training.

I have some plans but I’ll tell them later. I just want to reflect on my fantastic SLTEP experience now.

SLTEP was the right choice for me because I needed some me-time ( yes, yes, I really meant me-time) , some fuel to continue… It was an intensive program, right after a very long and tiring academic year, yet I never complained getting up early and going to the campus for two weeks. I realized how much I had missed studying like a student. It gave me a chance to sit back and watch where I’ve come and how far I want to go. I still want to go …

Things I’ll do more I’ll research my classes.

Thanks to Mrs Eken, we once again remembered that every teacher should carry out researches to be able to reach more students in the class.

I’ll ask more questions for the students who are left behind, or the ones who have wings to fly higher than others. I’m sure I’ll find something for each group. Isn’t this true that so often you find that the students you’re trying to INSPIRE are the ones that end up inspiring you? (Sean Junkins)

I’ll reflect more on my teaching with my colleagues at school and yes, here on my blog.

Do more observation.

I’ll work hard to give better feedback. So next year I’m not just going to praise them when they did well or criticize the points to be improved, I’ll develop a way to communicate with them in order to help them to improve their skills.

I’ll do some training sessions. I think this is really what I want to do in the next phase of my teaching career.

Plans, ideas, memories …

SLTEP was very useful for me and I should also mention that I met a group of amazing, enthusiastic teachers whom we were strangers a month ago but became so close that we still communicate on WhatsApp everyday. I hope our roads will cross with them once again in the future and I do wish them a very successful teaching career. It is great when you meet like-minded people who love teaching and do try to improve themselves to be great teachers. I DO believe that enthusiasm is infectious and we infect each other.

I’d like to thank the magicians, Deniz Kurtoglu Eken, Meral Guceri and Sharon Celtek, whom we spent two glorious weeks and got inspired and enthused by their energy, knowledge and passion.  

Another Cool Tool I’ll use this year, ReBeats

Regular readers of this blog know that I LOVE using songs in my classes. Since the summer is here, I now have the chance to keep up with the things I’ve missed. First I discovered a beautiful tool (AnswerGarden) that I’ll use next year with my students and even at my presentations at the conferences. Then I came across with ReBeats, a tool that gives the learners a chance to play with songs on YouTube videos. Apparently it’s in its beginning stages and works only on computers and in random mode. You can’t choose a song to play but you can skip to the next random song by pausing the game.I’m planning to use it with 1 on 1 lessons and I’ll also recommend it to my students. I’m sure they’ll love it. The site can also be a good alternative for Friday afternoons when you feel the students are bored and waiting for the bell to ring 🙂





Guided Collaborative Story Writing

Image source:
Image source:


Find a photo story, pictures that can be used as sequences or some pictures that can form a story. Make enough copies for your students.

Put students in groups.

Give each group the 1st picture

Tell them to brainstorm anything that comes into their minds first and then tell them to organize their thoughts in sentences as the first part of their story. Don’t forget to mention before that they will write a story collaboratively and they will use past tenses. You may also want to suggest some linking words that they can use to organize their paragraphs.

Tell them to pass their paper to the other groups clockwise and give them the 2nd picture of the story and tell them to continue writing their 2nd paragraph.

Continue the process until the pictures you have all distributed.

Ask students to exchange papers once more to edit. Tell them to read the stories carefully and make necessary changes or corrections.

Ask them to read the stories aloud. Put them on the walls. They can read all the stories in groups and choose the best one. You can collect all the stories on youblisher or issuu, you can ask them to create a glogster, using the pictures and adding the paragraphs or PowerPoint Presentations recording their voices or they can upload their presentation on brainshark and record their story.

A Tool for Brainstorming; AnswerGarden

Wordle: how to use movies in class
AnswerGarden is a new tool that you can use in the classroom for barinstorming or getting feedback. You don’t have to sign up, but when you create a poll or a question to think. The website asks you to put a password on it and then you can decide how long it will be open. Once you’ve created the page you can post it in a tweet or embed it on your website or blog to use. You can only write 20 characters, that means, some phrases, words, or chunks.

When you think the answers are enough, you can export it to Wordle or Tagxedo or even get the QR code for the page.makes the tool I really loved the idea of getting a quick word cloud after finishing your brainstorming.

For a presentation that we will deliver today, we made a quick research yesterday and asked our FB and twitter friends to respond a question and the result was amazing.

I think it’s designed for brainstorming mainly but you can use it in many ways in EFL classes:

1. You can ask your students to remember the words you studied together. If you’re using a smart board, you can ask then to come to the board and write a word that they feel they learned. If you’re using iPads or other BYOD, you can ask them to do it at the same time.

2. You can ask them list the words that they think they can not use comfortably and then put the word cloud on the walls so that you can study later.

3. Instead of asking a question you can write the topic and ask them to brainstorm.

4. When you read a story, novel or watch a film, you can ask your students to describe one of the character adding an adjective one by one in groups , maybe.

I’d like to know your ideas as well.

I think AnswerGarden will be in my favourite tools list for the next academic year.

created using Tagxedo
created using Tagxedo