How Do We Animate Lessons? Interview with Ken Wilson

Interview 12 of Twittering for Education

The majority of classrooms have curricula based on coursebooks. Many teachers might feel that teaching from a coursebook kills creativity and makes learning boring especially when coupled with multiple choice tests. However, in many schools teachers are required to teach from a coursebook. A coursebook is just a tool. We can still teach fun lessons that get students applying their learning, but many of us just don’t know how. That is why I was extremely excited to speak with my special guest, Ken Wilson (@KenWilsonLondon), the author of Drama and Improvisation, which is filled with over 70 simple activities that help teachers animate their lessons. In the interview, Ken explains his background working with the English Teaching Theatre then shares some simple activities to help teachers animate their lessons. Ken also talks about the importance of integrating activities that help all students show their talents, creativity, and skills. I first met Ken on Twitter then attended his workshop at TESOL France. During the workshop, Ken had the audience of teachers be the students and become the teachers. His ideas were really helpful and the entire workshop was a lot of fun! He made gapfills become more like games and even animated the Table of Contents of coursebooks. I am super excited to participate in his upcoming workshop this weekend, 10 Things I Think I Know About Teaching.


Ken Wilson is a teacher trainer, an author of ELT materials and until 2002, an artistic director of the English Teaching Theatre. He trained to be an English teacher with John and Brita Haycraft at International House London and taught English in Seville before moving back to IH London, where he worked as a teacher and teacher trainer before going freelance. In the seventies, he wrote and recorded Mister Monday, the first-ever collection of ELT songs. Since then he’s written and recorded about 150 language teaching songs, many which you can read about and even download from his blog. He has worked as a performer, sketch-writer and eventually director with the English Teaching Theatre, a theatre company which used to tour the world performing stage-shows for learners of English. The company made more than 250 tours to 55 countries, in Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Far East. His most recent publications are Smart Choice, Just Right Advanced, Quick Smart English, Matura Masters, and Drama and Improvisation. Find him on Twitter, @KenWilsonLondon.

Previous Interviews

Check out the previous interviews Twittering for Education- Jo and Phil Hart, Twittering for Education- Eric and Melissa Sheninger, Twittering for Education- Will and Elle Deyamport, Connected Principals- George Couros, 1:1 Programs- Rich Kiker, Mobile Learning with Kids- Scott Newcomb, Effective Leadership: Interview with Patrick Larkin, Using Skype for ELT Lessons: Interview with Marisa Pavan, Teachers as Leaders and Continuous Learners: Interview with Dr. Doug Green, Blogging with Students: Interview with Greta Sandler, and What Does the Innovative School Look Like? Interview with Dr. Tom King.


Try one of the ideas suggested by Ken Wilson to animate your lessons!

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at


  1. What software did you use to record the interview, Shelly? I like the way the image of you was inset and the sound was very clear.

  2. I just enjoyed listening to Ken again, and it makes me laught so much because I WAS THE TREE 🙂
    A while ago, watching the Footsbarn Theatre play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I found knew the entire text of the charater Bottom – and didn’t know why, until they came to the end when Pyramus and Thisbe kiss through a chink in the wall under the shade of a TREE – and it all came flooding back… selective memory – I’d forgotten that bit – I was the tree :-))
    Even now, although I can leave you with a reference to the wall, I can’t find mention of the tree ! …. obviously some great teachers involved there 🙂
    Act V, sc 1
    “Some man or other must present Wall: and let him
    have some plaster, or some loam, or some rough-cast
    about him, to signify wall; and let him hold his
    fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus
    and Thisby whisper.”

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