A Poetry Lesson

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1. Choose a poem to read with your students.

2. Write the title on the board and ask students to predict what the poem is about.

3. Divide the class in groups.

4. Give each group a copy of a word cloud you prepared previously.

5. Ask students to write a poem using the words from the word clouds.

6. Compare the poems of each group. (You may want to ask each group read the poems in their groups and mark them according to a criteria you prepared)

7. Distribute the original poem and see the similarities and differences.

8. Discuss the poem

9. Ask students to write their feelings about the poem.

Follow up:

  • Students can create glogs for their poems.
  • Students in groups can draw the picture of the poem.
  • Students in groups can prepare a wall display with their poems and the original one and the word cloud and drawings.

Alternative: You can do the same activity with a song.

More Go and Open the door poems here and the poem is also here

Joyce in Class


Joyce is one of the most difficult authors. It is not easy to understand him so he is not usually in high school teachers’ lists. However, if you have a class who loves reading short stories, you can give it a try to Dubliners. I’m not saying that we can read all the stories but 2 years ago with a group of students I had the chance to read Eveline which is relatively easy to understand.

Unfortunately I can’t be in Dublin for Bloomsday activities. Yet thinking my professor at university who infected me with Joyce, I think I can do something here far away from Dublin to celebrate his genius in literature.

Here is a lesson plan for Eveline.

1. Give some background information about Dublin, Joyce, Dubliners, religion, family life. Otherwise; they won’t understand Eveline’s decision.

2. Pre-reading discussions. Group them and ask them to discuss the followings.

  • What are your expectations from the future?
  • Think about leaving your homeland and family. Will it be easy or difficult?
  • Discuss why people are afraid of leaving the things, people, places with whom they are safe? 
  • Should children sacrifice themselves to look after their parents and siblings?
  • Is it always easy to leave your home and/or country? In what situations can that be possible.

3. Prepare a word cloud for Eveline (from a summary you wrote or somewhere else) hand out the word clouds to the students and ask them to guess the story.

4. Most probably your students will need some vocab activities if they are not native speakers and a vocab exercise on some key words will help them understand the story.

After reading.

  1. Write a brief character sketch of Eveline, Mr Hill and Frank.
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of her going away?
  3. What do you think Frank and Buones Aires represent in the story?
  4. How does the memory of her mother effect her decision?
  5. What would have happened if Eveline had left her home? Organise your thoughts and write a short story.
  6. If you were Eveline, would you leave? Why/ Why not?
  7. You are shooting a film called ‘Eveline’. Who will be your cast? Choose a song for soundtrack. Give your reasons. Prepare a glogster poster for your film adding the song.
  8. Write a poem about the story.
  9. Create a slideshow with a short summary of the story, adding text and music.
  10. Draw scenes from the story, add the summary and create your movie.
  11. Adapt Eveline to 21st century and rewrite a short story with the same characters in your own city.

For more ideas visit here  and here and here and here.


My Workshop at Bilgi University

In the session, I talked about why we should use songs in EFL classes.

Music is everywhere in our lives. We listen to songs when we are happy, angry, sad or when we need inspiration or when we want to relax. We go out of our homes with our songs, we travel with them, we wait with them, we shop with them.

So we can teach with them. May be I didn’t say anything new. These are the things we all know. However, I think it is always good to remember them.

Music can be used to teach  

grammar : at the presentation stage of a grammar point or while reviewing

listening : gap fill exercises, matching to teach listening for gist or detail

vocabulary: to teach or increase vocab by asking your students to replace the words with a synonym, antonym or a near synonym.

reading: songs are authentic texts and they can be used for comprehension, discussion and teaching culture 

writing: you can use songs for teaching writing. Ask your students to write a letter to the character, write a story which took place before the sond, add one more verse to the original, write their song for the same topic.

While doing all these we can always use web 2.0 to motivate our students so they can add their own content to the material.

 In the final part of my talk I gave examples how I used songs with my students.

I started the session with an activity from Music and Song by Tim Murphey (2009,   OUP)

Musical Reactions

Play an instrumental piece.

Ask students to fill out the questionnaire while listening to the music. 

1. If you turned on the radio and heard this piece of music would you:

  • turn off immediately?
  • listen attentively?
  • buy the record?
  • download it to your mp3 player?
  • Leave it on as background music?
  • —-?
  1. Imagine someone who loves this music. Describe the person in a few words.
  2. Imagine someone who doesn’t love this music. Describe the person in a few words.
  3. What emotions does it evoke in you?
  4. What do you see if you close your eyes as you listen?
  5. If this were the background music for an advertisement, what do you think the advertised product would be?
  6. If this were a soundtrack for a film, what kind of a film would that be?
  7. In what kind of place would you be most likely to hear this music?

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Go and Open the Door



I really love this poem and when I come across with it in Creative Poetry Writing with a great activity and as we were doing conditionals, even if, as long as and some other conjunctions I wanted to do the activity with my students.

I’ll quickly summarize it.

Tell your students that they will write poems but before writing they will discover something.

They will have pen and paper while listening to you

Begin telling ‘ You just discovered a hidden door in the classroom, where is it?’

Imagine what might be behind the door

Time to open it now. Go and open the door and step in.

You are in a room now and while walking you get amazed because you see all the memories from your past.

What do you find? Describe

You decide you will come back again but before leaving take just one thing with you.

Leave the room and come back to the class

What will you do now? Share your experience with us.

Read the poem or give it as handouts

Tell them they are going to write a poem similar to it.

FEEDBACK: They said they enjoyed the activity. I was amazed watching them while writing they were writing as they were hypnotised. When they finished, they decided to create glogs with their poems.

I really love them when they volunteer creating things with web 2.0

Here is what Burak wrote and you can read the others here

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Post-reading activities for the readers

With my intermediate and upper-intermediate students,we read readers in the classroom. They are abridged but with some activities, we try to analyze the texts as much as possible.

This is how I assigned them after we read The Grapes of Wrath

1. Choose a character and write a description

2. Write a book review.

3. Write a song lyric or a poem describing the events

4. You’re a newspaper reporter and took the photos of the migrant workers while working or while travelling. Write a diary entry explaining your feelings.

5. How is life similar to journey. Discuss.

6. Create an animation for the book using goanimate or xtranormal.

7. Write how the story continued for one of the characters.

You can also see some activities that we did before we started reading the book here.