A Song and a Story


Last week we read Eveline from Dubliners with my 12th graders. On Monday we will talk about the story in details and then I will assign them with several follow-up tasks.

Yesterday, on our way hoe we were listening to Bon Jovi and while listening to Runaway, I thought I might use the song with my class after talking about Eveline.

My plan is to discuss the song as follows but I will be very happy to hear your suggestions as well.


Reading Games for Readers, Novels or Short Stories


image from #eltpics via @mkofab

In December, I had the chance to listen to Steven Krashen at YTU ELT symposium. He talked about the importance of reading, how he became a good reader and what narrow reading is. You can read Marisa Constantinides’ fabulous post on Dr Krashen’s talk here.

That was the time I went back to the past and thought how I became a reader. I did the narrow reading. There was a time in my life, I read Enid Blyton novels, then came the French classics and the Russians, I fell in love with Sartre, Camus and their contemporaries, then came the Italian novelists and the South Americans and of course there was a time I only read British novelists. There was a time I read poetry only -Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet, Zahrad.

I was lucky to have two primary school teachers who led me to the paths of reading so I want to follow their footsteps. I believe teachers can help students become good readers. That’s why I think about fun activities to go with reading lessons.

Here you will find some activities that I use with my classes.

1. Tic-tac-toe

Write questions from the story or novel on slips of papers or post-it-notes and number them from 1-9. (Prepare double or triple questions for each number as students may not answer the questions)

Put in an envelope or a box or stick the papers on a ‘tic-tac-toe’ grid.

Team your students as Xs and Os.

Draw a tic-tac-toe grid on the board and tell them to choose a number. Take the numbered post-it from your tic-tac-toe handout. If they answer the question correctly, cross the number with X or O.

Continue until the questions finish.




2 3




5 6




8 9

2. Who Wants to be a Billionaire?

Play the game with questions from the novel or the story you read in the class.

3. Who said that?

Choose quotes or sentences from the novel

Divide the class into two teams.

Ask students “Who said that?”

4. Snowball fights

Tell students to write questions or quotes from the novel or the story on a piece of paper.

Tell them to make a paper snowball and allow them to play snowball fights for a while.

Stop them

Tell them to take the closest snowball and answer the questions.

You can guide them to ask their questions according to Bloom’s Taxonomy using http://teachers.ash.org.au/researchskills/dalton.htm#top

Now I’d like you to invite my first ever blog challenge 🙂

Would you like to share some of your favorite reading activities on your blog?

If you don’t blog, I’d be very happy to host your post on this blog.



Reading Short Stories ~ Roald Dahl in Class



One of my favourite writers for the ‘Reading Class’ is Roald Dahl. I’ve been using his short stories for almost a decade and the students have always loved them.

I just came across with this pdf http://www.msad54.org/district/literacyspecialist/pdf/blooms.pdf

But you can also get more ideas for using Bloom’s taxonomy in reading classes which I find very practical when preparing my own handouts for my students http://www.scoop.it/t/blooms-taxonomy-in-efl-classroom

I mostly use the following Roald Dahl stories with my 11th and 12th graders.

The Landlady, a very shocking story and teenagers love it.

Here are some great lessons of the story I found on the net.



Word games and puzzles http://teachers.henrico.k12.va.us/wilder/williams_d/thelandlady.html

An adaptation on YouTube http://youtu.be/4tcj5P3jjeI

My suggestion as a follow up:

Pretend you are Billy. You just found out what happened to the two young men and realised you were also poisoned, and locked into a room. Luckily you have still your mobile (as the landlady is a little bit old-fashioned she hadn’t known anything about mobiles and social media). Write a text message to a close friend, update your status on Facebook and send a tweet to the whole world and ask for help. Write your version of the story.

Create a scrapbook based on the setting, events and characters from the story. (You can use a web 2.0 option for this task)

My students’ web 2.0 projects on the story. http://englishwithgrade12fld.blogspot.com/2011/10/landlady-by-roald-dahl.html

The Way Up To Heaven


A YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJAPwN9eAqk

A suggestion on how to analyse this story http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcNMaD8Vnww

A pre reading task:


Lamb to Slaughter

Years ago my students adapted the story to stage, wrote the script and performed. Unfortunately in those years, technology was not like this and I was also a bit technophobic so even a simple camera recording isn’t available now.

Here are some links to inspire you to prepare your own

A Short story inspired writing lesson http://writingfix.com/Short_story_Prompts/Lamb_slaughter1.htm

From Roald Dahl’s fans http://www.roalddahlfans.com/teachers/lamb.php



A web 2.0 suggestion:

You can watch a clip fro Hitchcock’s ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ then ask the students to redirect the movie. They have can prepare a PowerPoint presentation, a prezi or a glogster and introduce to the class their cast, soundtrack, setting, etc giving their reasons why they chose the actors and the music. They can also create a movie poster.

More ideas for reading classes:

Or if you can read all the stories in a row, maybe you can ask the similarities of these three women.

Fun with Class Readers 1

Fun with Class Readers 2

Fun with Class Readers 3

Reading Challenge

And don’t forget to visit the beautiful official Roald Dahl page


Reading Short Stories


Reading is a must for me. I feel guilty when I can’t find time to read. I feel stressed if I can’t finish a book I have started reading. I know we grew in a world where we had be told that the books a the best friends and things are not the same anymore. Still I need to hold a real book, turn its pages, write notes on the margins, cover the page edges to continue later, tidy the shelves of my bookcases.

It is a bit difficult but I also want my kids to become passionate readers and so do my students.

I love teaching reading!

It is possible to teach so many things with one book. In my following posts I will share some titles that I love using in class and I will also be very happy if you share your thoughts.

Sometimes it is difficult to read novels in the class. Yet we usually choose at least two readers according to students’ levels to read and talk in the class but we also work with short stories a lot. It is often very challenging to use them. As they are short, they don’t make the students discouraged and if I tell them that the story is not a simplified one they feel motivated.

The following sites are great when I need help and support.




And I will continue with Roald Dahl and what we do in the class.

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.