1. Give weather reports. (Beginners) If you have studied weather-related expressions, students can take turns giving the daily weather report. Each student could have an assigned day to stand outside and deliver the weather report, ideally through video, but a still shot coupled with a short text is also possible. Give them a template: Good morning. Today is (Friday, May 31). It’s (warm and sunny). Right now it is (78) degrees. Decide in advance how students can distribute the report: mass email, submit to you, post to Facebook page, etc.
2. Give a status update to a partner. (All levels) Assign each student a partner. Have them send 2-3 updates (10-20 seconds) to their partner via video between one class and the next. At the next class, they can meet in small groups and tell what their partners did recently. Focus on the language that needs to be practiced, for example, simple past – beginners, time clauses – intermediate, “be going to” for intended actions – advanced.
3. Explain a process. (All levels) In pairs or individually, students can use video or still shots to explain a sequence of 3-5 steps. With lower level students, the videos can be brief and simple: This is how I make tea. First, I put a tea bag in a mug. Next, I pour in hot water. Then I wait two or three minutes. Finally, I add lemon and drink. Encourage more content from upper level students. If working in pairs, they can develop a 15- or 20-second script and film each other. One might pose questions, and the other explains the process. Again, decide in advance how students will share their content with you and/ or the class.
4. Guess the next step. (Intermediate and Advanced) Have students take a picture of someone or something in the middle of an action. They can share their photos in class. Each time they partner up with a new student, they will describe what they see in the photo and guess what happened next. The photographer can then confirm or explain what really happened. Decide what language you wish to focus on, for example, present or past progressive. Student A: I see a woman in the photo. Maybe she is your neighbor. Here she is carrying a trash bag. Was she going to take the trash outside? Student B: She was, but then the bag broke. I helped her clean it up. Alternative: Video someone doing something and express an alternative outcome, given a counterfactual condition. Student A: The woman was carrying the trash bag and it broke open. If she hadn’t put so much in the bag, it wouldn’t have torn like that.
5. Make your own vocabulary clips. (All levels) I’ve recommended this activity before, but it’s one I’d like to suggest again. If given a basic template, students can begin to compile videos for their own online resource. Here’s a model provided by one language school in Boston. Their Word of the Day videos are based on the collection I posted on my website.