Draw a Door

Rue Cremieux, Paris

My door is on the roof. I climb with a rope. I have stairs from moon. (Maral, age 11)

One of the most favourite activities we do in class is creative writing. It is great for revising grammar and vocabulary. It is also great for unleashing their hidden talents. Although they sometimes complain about drawing, they end up with wonders.
Here is one we’ve recently done:

Creative Writing Task:

Imagine it is 2040. Draw the door of your house an describe your life there.

  • Aim: Talking about daily routines.
  • Describing people and and places
  • Using present simple tense

In the end I was happy with a bunch of creative minds who managed to think outside the box.

A first week activity inspired by a novel

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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.

 

Revisiting Grammar

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May is round the corner. This means another school is about to end. Here you can find some revision games and activities that you’d like to use.

When I’m 65 (to revise tenses, time clauses)

Team your students

Prepare small cards, on small cards write random numbers such as 18, 22, 56, 38, etc.

Put the cards upside down on the desk

Tell students, take one card and make a sentence.

  • When I’m 65, I’ll probably have grandchildren.
  • When I was 18, I was a student at university.

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I had a great holiday there (to revise tenses)

Put some postcards or photos of places on the walls and tell students to walk around and imagine they were on holiday. They have to concentrate on one picture and then go back to their seats and write a paragraph, how they spent their holiday there. Then they can read and their friends try to guess which picture he has chosen.

I’m poem (to revise participles, relative clauses)

Ask them who they are. They will probably laugh and tell their names but tell them what roles do they have as a person in different places. Tell them that you’re their teacher, a mother, a wife, a friend, a colleague and although you are the same person but for your different roles, you have different responsibilities, feelings, emotions. Ask them if they are the same person as a sister, cousin, grandchild etc. Then give them the skeleton and ask them to write a poem describing who they are for different people and how they feel and react.

  • I’m the girl who loves reading books
  • I’m the sister watching you grow up

A Bollywood Style Song Lesson

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Nowadays there is a TV commercial of a fizzy drink that we talk a lot about. The dances used in the commercial is Bollywood style and we have just come across the original song on YouTube and it was not a surprise to find out that the song was from a Bollywood movie. The lyrics are in English but when I first listened I thought they were in Indian. Only when I focused, I caught the words. Then the idea emerged in my mind. Alas, it’s the end of year. I will not be able to use it this year but for the coming academic year, the song is on my list. 

You can use the Soup Song to

1. teach pronunciation, comparing the British or the American pronunciation with the one in the song.

2. talk about English as a Lingua Franca, even conduct a discussion on different pronunciations of English.

3. talk about different accents.

You can try Lyric Race with your class. It will be fun.

If you think moving in the class will be difficult because you have a big class, then maybe you can try the following activity with them

1. Prepare a gap fill activity with the lyrics. On slips of papers, preferably on a colored paper, write the omitted words.

2. Divide your class into teams.

3. Give them the handouts and the omitted words. Tell students to lay all the words open on the desk before you start the song.

4. Play the song and ask them to fill in the gaps with the omitted words. 

5. The winner is the one who finishes first.

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I’d like to hear about your thoughts about the lesson and if you use it before I can use, I’ll be happy to hear how your lesson went.

A Fun Activity for the Story You’re Reading in the Class

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I am working with graded readers, short stories and novels with my classes. I was also preparing my talk for TESOL France and looking for some new ideas to share, I designed the following lesson inspired from Chaz Pugliese’s Gossip activity from the book Being Creative. The activity may not sound similar but while reading it, I just thought this will be a fun activity. I’m planning to do it this week with my 12th graders.

Level: B2 and above

Put students in 3s

As and Bs will speak

Cs will eavesdrop and take notes while As and Bs are talking.

A and B are characters from the novel/short story you’re reading in the class. 

Tell them they are going to gossip about another character from the story. 

For example: Squealer and Napoleon gossip about Boxer (Animal Farm)

Cs are either a passerby, a student from your class or a 4th character from the story. They will take notes of what they’ve heard and will inform the class after the activity.

Variation: If the students will not be able to improvise, you can put them in 3s and give some time to write the dialogue. Then Cs from each group go to listen to another A and B’s gossip.