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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.”
Choices are important in our lives. Sometimes there are times we regret, there are times we pray for what we’ve chosen.
I have a group of mixed-ability students in grade 11 studying mostly languages. Some of them are not happy because that was not what they actually wanted but that was the only option to take.
I had a very disappointing lesson the other day and when I arrived home I thought what I could do for them to realize or do something for themselves until the next fork appears on the road they had chosen. And I decided to go to the class with a poem. Yes, I chose The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost as I thought with a little help, they would be able to understand the poem and we’d be able to talk about our decisions. To sum up, it was a great lesson. We all enjoyed it and I think they also revised their decisions or their attitudes towards their choices.
Now I’d like to tell you how I planned the lesson. First of all I found some very valuable lesson ideas on the poem and took some inspiration from them and I prepared one suitable for my students.
First I asked what the word ‘road’ meant. Then I asked what it could be used as a metaphor. We looked at the picture I chose as a warm up. ( If you search Google/Yahoo images as “Two Roads”, you’ll get some pictures of the woods that come to a fork)
The students described the picture and then I asked them what they would do if they were in this picture, how they would feel, how they would decide. The best part of the lesson was actually here and I hadn’t predicted that while preparing it. They talked about how they would be both nervous and excited. We talked about what they could encounter on the road, where these roads might take them.
Then we brainstormed words/ideas related with roads. I chose a recording of the poem on YouTube and told students to listen and jot down any words or phrases they heard/caught/liked.
After listening to the poem twice, I gave them the handouts and told them to read the poem and find if the words they had heard were really in the poem. Then we discussed the poem. We talked about if the poet was happy with his choice, if the poem was sad or happy or hopeful. Now I’m waiting for their bookmarks on the poem. They’ll use the ideas from here.