An activity I use again and again

One activity I turn to very often, with different people and at different teaching stages, and that never fails to deliver, is called "up and down".

It comes from Teaching Unplugged by Luke Meddings and Scott Thornbury. It's quite simple and when I first came across the activity I was feeling something close to regret I hadn't thought of it myself. It's a very sincere and authentic task,as it seems to me, and it lets you create something (almost)any student can relate to. A nice - probaly the best - way to start a lesson and to set positive mood for you and your students.

Here is what you should do.

First, do the task yourself: draw a graph of your mood (during today's moring, during the whole day yesterday, the whole week, etc). You can add a bit of an intrigue here and ask your students if they know what the graph is showing.Chances are, they won't quess correctly, but it's ok.

Then tell that this graph represents your mood of yesterday (or any other period of time). Here you can tell all the truth about your mood and reasons for it, but there is no reason why you might not like to color the truth a little. Don't hurry - take your time, be emotional, share how terrible you felt at 5:45 a.m. when you had to wake up, or how happy you were when buying those great shoes..and then ask your students to draw their mood graphs too. Here you have to be perstistent, as many of the students (at least that was my experience) tend to skip the drawing part and just to tell you about their mood - who needs drawing?. Thus, a meaningful half of the experience (remembering, putting it on paper, drawing)will be lost, so I'd recommend they still draw - otherwise it will be just the usual telling-about-your-mood.

After the drawing part is done, they then tell you (or their pair, if it's pairwork) why exactly they felt that way, and what happened to make their mood line go up and reach all-time high again/ drop so suddenly, etc.

Being a nice starter, it is also a good way to practise verbs of change, as well as grammar tenses. You can also make the activity more dynamic and conversational by offering students to ask each other questions about their mood changes.

For me, this activity has always worked: with both German and English, and with different levels, from low pre-intermediate and up. And has always helped me to generate that priceless emotional response. Oh, and I suppose the fact that you let your students in on something as personal as your mood also plays an important role in student-teacher relationships building.

Average: 3 (2 votes)

Submitted by Nourah Al-Belaihi on Thu, 01/30/2014 - 17:47


It will be a great warm up as you said . But can I do it daily or weekly ? Another question is how can you draw your mood ? do you uses faces ,e.g. or words or symbols to express reasons that change your mood up or down? Finally , can I change the mood to draw anything else ? Thanks a lot ***

thanks for your comment! I'd be interested to hear how it worked for you and your students! You can draw your mood simply using a line graph going up, down, levelling off, etc, like the ones used to show currency rates!

Submitted by Yus on Thu, 06/29/2017 - 17:31


This activity is just amazing! I think there is no better connection than students describing their own feelings in the target language. Will definitely try this with my students!

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