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Posts Tagged ‘writing’


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 read a really interesting article on the BBC Magazine website about people becoming more and more irritated by Americanisms in British English. They listed the 50 most popular complaints and it made for some quite interesting reading.

I have a lot of Korean and South American students, who are all exposed to American English when they are learning, and they find it quite funny that the English aren’t too impressed by American vocabulary or spelling. I thought that doing a lesson looking at this in more detail would appeal to them and is also quite culturally appropriate.

I started the lesson with some extracts from different time period which showed the evolution of the English language. The texts ranged from Beowulf to a poem written in text speak. The students have to order the poems according to time which they should be able to recognise from the language.

We then looked at a reading from the BBC Magazine which was written by an American in reply to a British person’s disgust at Americanisms. We focused on some vocabulary and then a speaking exercise about the evolution of language and the link between culture and language.

I found a great video online with an American TV presenter and Britsh actor Hugh Laurie talking about American and British slang. I got the students to imagine what the slang could be, then we watched the video which had them in giggles at the word “Ba-donka-donk”!

Then we focused on some more specific English-American vocabulary and a cross word seeing as it was a Friday afternoon!

If you’d like to see the materials I used for this lesson, you can download them here:

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There is a quiz shoe in Britain called “Countdown” where the contensants have to make words out of 9 letters.

I use this same idea in my class as a warmer, or as an acitivity to fill the last 10 minutes of a lesson.

Choose a 9 letter word: eg, policeman, birthdays, traveller, spiderweb, superhero, tracksuit. Then draw a 3×3 grid on the board and mix the letters up.

In pairs, give the students 5 minutes to find as many words as possible (min 3 letters). Tell them there is a 9 letter word which is worth extra points.

When the time is up, get the students to count their words and see which team has the most, then brainstorm the words on the board and help them find the 9 letter word

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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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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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