September is here and another school year is on its way. I’m just enjoying the last few lazy days reading and planning ahead. I’m reading “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George at the moment. I loved the book. Not only for the plot, not only it is set in Paris along the River Seine but also the richness of the creative writing ideas that pop up in front of my eyes while reading it.
The book takes place in Paris and tells the story of a bookshop owner Jean Perdu who calls his bookshop the Literary Apothecary, because he doesn’t just sell books to his customers, he also prescribes them to suit their minor ailments he diagnoses in them.
I just don’t want to forget those brilliant ideas Mr Perdu brought into my mind so I decided to write them.
Here is one as a first week activity. Mr Perdu says “books are like people, and people are like books.” And continues “ I ask myself is he or she the main character in his or her life?” (pg 28) well, I’m not going to reveal more but I’m planning my first day activity as follows.
The activity will be suitable for any level if you plan it that way but I’ll do it with my year 12 students.
Tell students they are a character in a novel.
Tell them to describe themselves, their motives, ambitions, weak points, strengths.
Who else are in their story? What kind of characters are they? A short description for them as the characters of the story…
The blurb of their story, their problem and how they expect the story will end.
I’ll tell them to create a book cover and a few pages of their books to display on classroom walls.
I think this will be a good beginning for a class who will be studying hard for their university exam. This year their main concern is the exam and how they will shape their future so I guess starting the year with these book covers will be fun.
I’d like to share a quick activity I’ve done with my students. After reading a short story or a novel in the class or if the students are assigned to read their own choices, you can use this activity.
Ask the students to write Twitter bios for each character, (or the ones they’ve chosen) in stead of writing character descriptions. You can start with your own example. Tell them to highlight the significant characteristic of that character, adding hashtags as well. You may want to create a template for the exercise, the Power Point will help or you can ask your students to create their own templates.
We are all stories, right? We tell a new story, the same story, another story all the time and we do it in the class too.
Today I’m going to mention activities that can be used to create new stories for the theme “Using Photos in EFL Classes”.
You can either ask your students to bring some photos they have taken or you can choose the photos you’ve taken or as usual, go to #ELTpics and tell them to choose the pictures they want to think about and write their stories.
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” Dorothea Lange
Visuals are useful and powerful tools to enhance the use of language, combining the images and the concepts they refer in the minds of the learners. Photos, as all visual images, also encourage the learners to predict and guess the story of the photo they are looking at. It is easy to bring the real world into the classroom and talk and discuss about it.
Today’s children love taking photos. They love taking “selfies” but they also take photos of everyday objects, food, the place they live, the place they visit and they don’t need a camera for taking photos anymore. They don’t even need to go somewhere to develop them to bring into the classroom. There is even no need for a printer, a computer as long as they have a smart phone, Internet connection and Google Tools to share it with you and their class mates. Moreover, as they are addicted to use the phone and can’t live a minute apart from them, why shouldn’t we take advantage of this and challenge them?
I think we can ask them to take their own photos or we can bring the ones that we have taken or chosen from other people’s sets. I’d suggest #ELTpics for projects with photos if you don’t want to use your own photos or the student photos.
In the early years the photos can be used to
Teach, revise vocabulary
Drill the target language
Describe the photo
However in the advanced levels photos encourage students to write and tell stories, to discuss certain issues, and do a lot more things.
So I’m planning to write a few posts on using photos in the language classrooms. I will list some activities that can be used with any level.
Caption Writing Project
Tell students to take photos on their way home or at the weekend, etc.
You can guide them to take photos of food, supermarkets, street markets, people commuting in the morning, etc.
Start a Google Slide and share with your class.
Tell students to upload their photos to the slide.
Depending on the size of the class, divide students in teams and give each team a set of photos (depending on the number of photos uploaded)
Tell each team to write captions for the photos they have for their teams.
Choose the best photo, best caption, the most creative caption, etc. (optional)
You can print them out and create a class display.
You can download the Slide as pdf and upload the file to “youblisher” and create an ebook that can be shared or embedded to your class blog or school website. This very easy activity can be turned into a class project as well.
If you decide to continue the project all year long, you may then decide to print the sets and turn them into a printed “class catalogue”.
I’d like to share a quick activity that I’m planning to do with my students tomorrow.
1. Tell students to think about the characters in the book/story/novel you’re working on
2. Ask them to prepare a list of characters traits and then ask their friends if the adjectives they chose for these characters are correct or they are the opposites.
For example: (from Animal Farm)
Variation: Prepare cards with characters’ names and an adjective to describe them. Ask students to choose a card at a time and decide if the adjective is correct or it must be the opposite to describe the character.