Back to basics 1: Activity set-up

To celebrate the launch of ELT Playbook 1, I’m giving away the first task for free. Once you’ve had a go at it, why not share your responses to the reflection ideas via these social media outlets, or in the comments below?

You can also read how other people have responded to the task, and perhaps leave a comment or an idea for them.

Here’s a pdf of this task and the contents page.


Task: up to 10 minutes in class, 10 minutes after class

Reflection: 30–60 minutes, depending on whether you choose to transcribe what happened.


Audio- or video-record one whole activity as you set it up in class. If you don’t want to mess about with a recording device in a lesson, you could record the whole lesson. If you don’t have the permission of the students (or their parents), you could ask a guest to take notes during your lesson.

Listen back to or watch the set-up for your chosen activity and transcribe it if you want to.
If you invited a guest, read their notes.

Questions to think about

  • How smoothly did the set-up go? What contributed to this?
  • Had you planned how to set up the activity? Did it happen the way you expected in class?
  • Did you have the students’ full attention? Why (not)?
  • What methods did you use to support your instructions? For example, did you show the materials or do a demonstration? Did it help? How do you know?
  • Did students have any trouble with the activity, or did the pace drop at all? How do you know? If they did, what did you choose to do about it?
  • Would you change anything in the instruction-giving process if you were to set up the same activity again? For instance, would you change: the length of instructions, how they were broken down, how you gave extra support, etc.? Be as specific as possible.
  • What tips would you give to other teachers about setting up activities?

Reflection ideas (blog, video or audio, photo, journal)

Share your tips for setting up activities effectively. Don’t forget to credit the source if you got them from someone else.

Describe how effective your activity set-up was and what helped or hindered the students in their ability to complete the activity successfully.

Take a photo of the transcript or notes from the activity. Share it using one of the hashtags, telling us what you could do to improve them in the future and why.

Detail what you learnt from this process and what it showed you about how effective your activity set-up is.


6 thoughts on “Back to basics 1: Activity set-up

  1. Sandy,

    Thank you for introducing me to this free sample of your book.
    I couldn’t completely figure it out the parts in which you say ” share using hashtags”, “take a picture of the transcription”, “detail what you’ve learned”, etc. How or where are we going to share/detail/take a picture?

    Thank you. Very interesting material. I’ll consider buying it 🙂


    1. Hi Juliana,
      Thank you for the questions – as you pointed out, these aren’t completely clear in this extract. The hashtags are on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and are simply #ELTplaybook. The idea is to start to build a community of support around the book.
      You may also be interested in the badges which I’ve just created. You can apply for a badge once you’ve completed all of the tasks in one section and shared your reflections on them.
      I hope you do decide to buy the book and that you find it useful. Good luck!


  2. Great overview for setting up a task. I notice that I still struggle to get all of my students’ attention, and that I can probably improve in my use of non-verbal cues. Thank you for the free sample!


    1. Hi Peter,
      Thank you for the comment. If attention is a problem, you might find this post from my main blog useful: If you’re interested in sharing your responses to the task, it would be great to see how you’ve answered some of the questions, perhaps by sharing on the ELT Playbook facebook group or the #ELTplaybook hashtags on Twitter or Instagram. I’m glad you found this useful!


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