Video Diagrams – Part 2: Five activities to get students moving

Back in May I wrote a post called ‘Video Diagrams – Help your students visualize your instructions.’ Since then, I have been using these videos regularly in the classroom and I have created several more.

I have found them to be very useful in the classroom and they have allowed me to take a step back and let the students organize themselves. This in turn has helped me to reduce any excess teacher talking time.

I have made five more videos to help explain common classroom activities that get students up on their feet and moving around.

Click on Video Diagrams to download all the videos.

If you would prefer to download individual video diagrams, click on share in the top right-hand corner of the video.

Downloading the Video
Screen Capture of Video Press

There is an option to download the original video, view the video using the permalink or embedding the video using the HTML code.

I hope you will find these video diagrams will be as useful for your classes as they have been for mine.

Whisper Chains

This activity has a number of names but I prefer to call it whisper chains. I like using this activity because it doesn’t just practice speaking and writing, it encourages the students to listen to each other and if you insist the correct answer should be what you have written on your cards then the students will end up helping their teams with peer correction.

The Activity: 

This activity suits 2 – 4 teams, but ultimately it depends on how many students you have and the size and layout of your classroom.

I usually pause the video and nominate a student to assign group numbers and to organize their classmates so they are lined up facing the board and ready to start the activity.

If I have used this activity with a class before, it requires little to no further explanation when I play the video. If it is the first time using this activity with a new class, I will explain, show the video and then do a dry run.

The teacher stands at the back of the classroom and calls the students from the back of each group’s line to memorize a phrase or word on a piece of paper.

The students then return to their groups and whisper the word or phrase down the line until they reach the person at the front who then runs to the board and writes the phrases.

Cross the River

I wrote about this activity when I wrote an article about suggestions that encouraged speaking and discussion.

I really enjoy doing this activity in the classroom because it gets the students moving around the classroom, it encourages active listening and helps the students get used to talking to someone in English when multiple people are talking at once.

The Activity:

With the image of the activity on the screen, a student is nominated to divide the class into two groups and to organize them. Sometimes I have to give a little reminder that there needs to be one student at the front. I will usually let the students to choose someone at random from their group.

The general idea is that the group at the back, and the person standing at the front are divided by an invisible river but there are stepping stones.

  • The person at the front nominates a student by calling their name and asks them a question. If the student answers, they can move to the first stepping stone.
  • The person at the front asks another question and their teammate moves to the second stepping stone if they answer.
  • The person at the front asks the last question and if their teammate answers they can cross the river to the other side of the bank.

Now there are two people standing at the front of the classroom, so they can nominate two people from the other side of the bank and ask them questions at the same time. When they finish there will be four people who have crossed the river. Four people can then nominate four other people in turn.

1 – 1, 2 – 2, 4 – 4, 8 – 8

It can get quite loud when two teams compete against each other. It will start off quiet with a couple of students talking but before long all the students are talking or trying to get their classmate’s attention to ask questions.


Assigning a time limit to each of the stepping stones can motivate students and help them speak for longer periods of time.

Run and Report


This activity encourages the students to use reported speech or to use the 3rd person. It also helps students learn their classmates’ names.

This is one of those activities that you can always use with almost any topic and at any point during the class. It works well as a warmer, as a practice activity or an activity you can rely on if your class finishes earlier than you expected.

The Activity:

The students are divided into three groups and asked to stand in line like on the video.

Student C runs to Student A and asks them a question or discusses a topic with them. Student C then runs to Student B and tells Student B what Student A said. Student C has to use reported speech or introduce Student A in the 3rd person.

Although the video shows that student C moves between A and B, it still necessary to model the activity because the target language varies.

Using a time limit or a set number of questions and topics, rotate the roles. Student A and Student C change roles. You can also ask students to move position so the groupings vary.

Question Circles

I use this activity when I want to encourage the students to use follow up questions, speak for a set time limit, or beat their personal best.

The Activity:

Divide the students into groups of four to seven and ask the students to make a circle. The students then select one member from their group at random to stand in the middle of the circle.

Then students in the outer circle then ask their classmate in the middle of the circle a series of questions.

This activity works well for almost any question form. Whether it is asking about preferences (Do you like…?), abilities (Can you…?), experiences (Have you ever…?), or asking about opinions (What do you think about…?).

The first person asks the question in the target language you are teaching and the other members in the group ask Wh~ questions to find out more information.

The video is usually very clear in explaining the general idea of this activity, but you need to model any variations.

Rotating Speakers

I like this kind of activity because it encourages the students to talk to many if not all their classmates and is one way of preventing students drifting into separate groups.

The Activity:

Divide the students into groups of four to six students.

Ask the students to think about some topics they would like to discuss.

Elicit some topic suggestions from the students and write them on the board. They can be broad topics like ‘music,’ or they can be more specific such as ‘pop music.’

Ask the students to nominate one member of their group to move to a new group. The student can move to an adjacent group or move to a random group. This student gets to decide which topic the group will discuss.

After the students have spoken for a set time limit, ask them to nominate a new speaker to move to a new group. The new speaker then select a new topic for the group to discuss.

Leave me a message if you have any favorite classroom activities that you would like to see made into a video diagram.

Alternatively you can send me a message on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and take care!

You may also like to read:

Video Diagrams – Help your students visualize your instructions

5 tips for creating activity instructions in PowerPoint

Discussion Activities for English Language Students


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