SDE International - Shenzhen

New teaching jobs in China interviewing now, apply today!

What is a blackout lesson?

Sometimes classroom computers crash. Projectors break. The electricity goes out. Guess what? You still have to teach. All those lesson plans and carefully thought-out activities go out the window. Classes held without technology are known as blackout lessons.
Having a blackout lesson sprung on you is annoying, to say the least! But you can keep your cool if you have a few backup plans. Here are five activities you can keep on hand for when a technology problem inevitably strikes.


1. Pictionary

Write words on slips of paper. Keep these words in a mug or bowl at your desk. When it’s time for a blackout lesson, run back to your office and grab them. Boom—problem solved!

Choose a student to choose a piece of paper. They must draw a picture of the vocabulary word on the blackboard. The child to correctly guess the word gets to draw the next picture!

It’s a simple game, but experience has taught me that students of all ages love Pictionary. Heck, if we’re being honest, I love Pictionary, too!

2. Songs

Songs are great learning tools. I prefer to play music videos on the projector so students can follow the dance moves and read subtitles.

If technology is unavailable, though, songs still aren’t out of the question!

Choose a few songs you’ve led the class in chanting several times. Then sing them a cappella. Choose two or three students to help you lead the dance moves in front of the class. Chances are, the kids will like changing things up by singing on their own.

3. Tic-Tac-Toe on the Blackboard

Tic-Tac-Toe is another activity I prefer to conduct on the projector. These templates are easy to use and edit for different lessons.

But when push comes to shove, you can play Tic-Tac-Toe on the blackboard.

The premise is similar to playing with technology. Divide the students into two groups, Team X and Team O. Call on a student from Team X. They choose from square 1 through 9. Ask them a question. If they answer correctly, their team receives an X in that square. If they can’t answer, you turn the question over to the other team. Repeat this process with Team O.

Without technology, you can’t use pictures as teaching aids. While this obstacle makes things more difficult, it could also work to your advantage. Answering your questions without pictures will test which students really know their stuff.

4. Coloring Pages

Keep stacks of coloring pages in your office for when the classroom computer is down. You can print pages off the Internet or copy and paste images to a Word document to create a collage. For example, if the students have been studying animal names, paste pictures of pigs, cows, cats, and dogs to make your own coloring page.

Coloring can still be a learning opportunity! Test the children on their knowledge of colors by giving them instructions such as, “Color the pig pink. Color the bird red. Color the cow black and brown.”

5. Write Biographies

This activity should be reserved for older primary school students. Kids don’t usually focus on writing in English until grade 3.

Have everyone write a few sentences about themselves. Then take volunteers to read their biographies aloud. Depending on their ages, they could write about anything from their hobbies, to their favorite foods, to their family trees.

If kids are shy, reward them by offering stickers or treats for students brave enough to read their essays to their peers.


SDE International - Shenzhen

New teaching jobs in China interviewing now, apply today!

About the Author:

Laura Grace Tarpley
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer and English teacher in Shenzhen, China. She enjoys tinkering with crossword puzzles, reading Bill Bryson books, and taking naps on her huge couch. Follow her travels on her Instagram and Twitter. Or you can check out her blog, Let’s Go, Tarpley!
Share this page. Choose your platform.

Job Board

Hundreds of teaching jobs in China, fully screened, updated daily.