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22 Aug 2017

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Welcoming students back to school – best practices from our ambassadors

Three Kahoot! ambassadors share their best practices for welcoming students back to school and making sure everyone feels included.

Kahoot!’ers are on a roll after the summer break! Just a few days ago, we published a roundup of back-to-school tips from 3 Edu heroes. We got so many more amazing recommendations from our ambassadors that it evolved into a blog series!

Welcome students of all backgrounds and academic levels into the new school year with these activities, which are especially relevant for ESL teachers!

Build a relationship before starting with academic topics

Amber McCormick, Global Studies Teacher at Ridgeview Global Studies Academy:

“I tend to lean towards the idea that it is my job to really get to know my students within the first couple days of school. Before I can really jump into any heavy topics academically, I think it is vital to start building a relationship of trust with my students.

Incidentally, I always try to do lightweight ice breakers like the “Would You Rather” games to learn a little bit more about my students. Even though the questions might seem silly to them, it’s amazing how much you can actually learn about your students through activities such as these. Here’s the kahoot I created:”

Make the most of visuals to onboard students of all academic and language levels

Carol Salva, ESL Consultant and NELD Teacher, Spring Branch ISD:

“Feeling a bit anxious about back to school? I always do! It must be similar to the anticipation actors get before a big show. I know my students are feeling the same way, as everyone has high hopes for what could be.

I like to capitalize on this by starting the year with an activity that helps me connect every single student, no matter their language, background or academic level. My top tip for creating a selfie kahoot is to definitely use visuals as much as possible, as this makes your kahoot comprehensible to everyone in the classroom. Play around with illustrations, bitmojis, and real life photos.

My second tip is to use clear gestures and pointing as you explain the questions. Re-show the images after the questions, face your students and explain the imagery with a moderate rate of speech as you point and offer some gestures that might help language learners understand. For example, when I host a selfie kahoot and explain my family is from Mexico, I point to my chest and then I point to the country of Mexico in a picture of a world map. I might also hold up a picture of my parents as I explain my family is from there.

Finally, remember that language learners can understand a lot more than they can say. With visuals and gestures, you have set the tone for everyone in the class. You’re supporting them with language, you want them to know you as a person, and you believe in them so you’re going the extra mile for them.”

Selfie Kahoot! for language learners

Give learners time to revise and reinforce knowledge

Susan Gaer, ESL Adjunct Professor, Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education and Mt San Antonio College:

“I’m teaching the lowest level of ESL. Since my students have no common language yet, you can’t just present massive amounts of information. Everything has to be short and sweet, so Kahoot! has been a lifesaver!

For example, the first week of class, students have to do a syllabus review. When I go over it for the first time, they understand very little. And that’s when I bring out this icebreaker kahoot. In just 10 questions, it encapsulates the most important info students need to remember.

We play this kahoot about 4 or 5 times the first week of class. It’s a great way to ensure that students understand the essential information and reinforce the knowledge.

People often ask me how I teach my ESL students to play Kahoot! It is very easy. You just play a round and they immediately understand how it works. After the first kahoot they almost demand me to play it every evening. Later, before the midterm, I start teaching them how to make their own games. The first step is to put them into groups. Ask them to make a five question multiple-choice quiz using information from the book.

Here’s the Syllabus Review kahoot I mentioned above and one of the kahoots my students made when we had food as the topic:”

Close-up of hand holding huge RAF tomato


The first kahoot by Palomino12, one of Susan Gaer’s ESL students.

We really liked these amazing tips to welcome students and include everyone into the learning process!