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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category


Oops! I haven’t posted in aaaages! Will hopefully make up for that in the next few weeks.

Someone in the staff room today showed everyone a video for a new Flemmish TV channel – you may have heard of it, it’s a bit of a sensation… It’s called “A Dramatic Surprise on A Quiet Square”. Have a watch… it’s brilliant!

So how could you use this video in the classroom? It could be a more interesting, visual way to practise using narrative tenses (or present continous for lower levels).

Any other ideas? Please let me know!

 

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I started out this afternoons with big ideas about a Halloween lesson, with pumpkins and scary stories etc… but there is just too much stuff out there and didn’t know where to start with finding something I could use in the classroom!

I wanted to combine a useful skills lesson with something a bit more fun and engaging, so decided to do a reading, and also watch a video clip of some sort.

I settled on watching The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror X” as my previous Simpsons lessons was really well received (I’m doing this with a different class though so watch this space… it may be a huge failure!). I watched the episode and wrote some questions for the first two horror stories.

I also found a good multiple choice reading from Sean Banville’s Holiday Lessons website: http://www.eslholidaylessons.com/ The multiple choice focuses on some common issues my students have, so it will be useful grammatically as well as culturally.

I’m going to combine this with some vocabulary picture matching at the beginning of the lesson, and then get them to write the ending to a scary story for homework. If we have time, and if I can keep the classroom clean enough, we might do some apple bobbing!

If you have any links to good video clips or useful ideas or materials, please post them!

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Some of my students left on Friday and they asked if, seeing as it was their last day, they could watch an episode of The Simpsons. So that left me with having to find a real lesson within the programme, as we couldn’t just watch episode after episode for 90 minutes, could we?

Fortunately, The Simpsons has been in the news recently, due to an argument between the cast and the network over pay. This is pretty topical as it’s happening everywhere, so you would be able to tie it in with an ecomonics theme.

I then found a website that suggested an episode and lesson around The Simpsons based on the theme of stereotypes – I don’t want to blatantly steal ideas, so here is the link: http://iteslj.org/Lessons/Meilleur-Simpsons.html

This blog suggests using the episode “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo” as a basis for talking about stereotypes. It mainly focuses on Japan, but you could also talk about American stereotypes. There are some good worksheets on the site too, so take a look at it.

Other themes you could use with The Simpsons; the elderly (Abe Simpson), friendship, families, childhood, marriage, relationships, responsibility… there are loads more I’m sure. You could also use it when studying narrative tenses, and get the students to write the plot of the story.

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I’ve just found this website which might be nice to use for an off book, authentic material lesson.

http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

Every year, this organisation gives a prize for the worst sentence and they publish the winners.

Could be interesting – let me know if you use it and how it is received.

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I made a class newspaper with my teenage students today and it was absolutely fab!

I gave them some sections of the paper, but you could do anything you wanted.

I had: Teacher interviews, Group leader interviews, City profile, things to do, excursion and activities, class profile.

You could make it more serious depending on the age and ability of the class.

I assigned two people to be the editors, they had to assign the pages to the other students and one person needed to be a photographer. I gave them a disposable camera and had it developed at lunchtime.

I’m going to bind the original copy to show to other classes as an exmaple, but I photocopied each student a copy to take home with them so they have a permanent reminder of their time here.

Maybe this would be a good creative project for your class to work on?

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I have been thinking about creative writing and how to inspire students, rather than hearing groans when you tell them to pick up their pens.

We need students to see that writing isn’t a chore or a punishment, but can be a vital language exercise and help them with grammar, syntax and can help them widen their vocabulary.

Of course, as in most situations, the attitude of the student depends on how the teacher presents the subject. Simply telling the students to write about their holiday isn’t going to fill them with inspiration. So we need to give them some more interesting ways to explore this side of their language learning.

1. Music

Play the students a piece of classical music (I quite like the idea of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” or Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” as these seem to tell a story). Allow the students to write short notes on how they feel and potential stories etc… They could then write the story of the piece. Later, put the students into groups of 4 and get them to perform the story of the piece as a short play. This could turn into a project, complete with costumes, props and could even be filmed (and edited with the music as the soundtrack if you are technically minded!)!

If classical music isn’t your cup of tea, play the students the song which is the soundtrack to a film. The students should then write a synopsis of the film they imagine from the music and this could also be performed. Try to choose a song which isn’t too current or popular, as you don’t want them all writing the synopsis of the real film! That’s not being creative… that’s plagiarism!

You could them play them some of the film is came from to see how similar or different their interpretations are.

(Maybe use the music from some British films which may not have been very successful over seas… Hollywood blockbusters are likely to be recognised – how about The Full Monty, Billy Elliot, Trainspotting etc)

Pictures

A big poster of a film, with the title removed could allow the students to write about what they imagine the story to be. Or a more classical painting could give rise to romantic stories or days out

Poems

Give the students a poem. Find one that isn’t too cryptic, or one that has complicated word order or grammar so as not to confuse!  Pre-teach any vocab then have the students read it to themselves. Then read the poem aloud, paying attention to punctuation as this will help with understanding. Then put the students into small groups and let them discuss what they think the poem is about. Then have a group discussion to share ideas. The students should then mimic the poem, to apply it to themselves or to their interpretation.

I first came across this idea on another EFL teacher’s blog that I follow, and she has posted her take on this idea and a poem to get you started: http://evasimkesyan.edublogs.org/about/

Other ways to write poems would be to do a Haiku (3 line Japanese poem of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then 5 again) – this will be challenging as the students need to choose the right words to get the correct number of syllables. A Tanka is the same idea as a Haiku but has more syllables (5-7-5-7-7).

Acrostic poems can provide a starting point for the students (where the first line of each word spells a new word). Students could choose  their own word, our you could give them all the way word and compare the differences.

Themes

One problem students have when doing creative writing is not knowing where to start. You could remedy this by giving them themes or titles for their story. Try to make them interesting (ie. NOT “my holiday” or “my town/school/country/family”).

These are just some basic ideas, please leave comments below to share how you have inspired your students when it comes to creative writing, and let me know if you used any of these ideas and if how it went! Good luck and have fun!

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This is an fun, student centred activity which needs no prep and is perfect for when you have to cover a lesson with 5 minutes notice.

It works with all levels and ages.

One the board, draw two diagonal linesfrom the top to the bottom, and some little lines in the middle of it (the idea is to make it look like a road). Add a bus stop and a person waiting for the bus.

Kids love being up at the blackboard!

Then hand out 4 or 5 board pens to the students and tell them that everyone must add at least one thing to the picture. Give them a few minutes to do this, and make sure that the board is full of pictures (make sure there are planty of people… feel free to join in to add some)

The students will love being up at the board messing about.

If there are any explicit pictures on the board (there will be), just rub them off without comment… they will soon tire of it.

Once the board is full and colourful, have the students sit back down.

Then go through each character on the board (people and animals), and get ask the students to name all of them.

Pair the students off and tell them to pick two people on the board who are standing close to each other.

They then have to write out the dialouge which happens between the two people. They must not speak, but the first person writes a line, then passes the paper to the second person who write the reply, and they have a conversation on paper.

Tell the students to read what their partner wrote, and encourage them to correct it if they see any mistakes. Monitor to make sure the grammar is correct.

This keeps them very quiet… but you can be sure there will be a few giggles along the way!

After 10 minutes, get them to read out their conversations to the class.

I have had a lot of fun with this activity, the conversations have always been very silly and the students get speaking and writing practise.

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