This is a great activity from the old edition of Face2Face Intermediate for imaginative PET/FCE groups that enjoy writing stories but need help with linking words/expressions and narrative tenses. The students should have done some controlled work on these in previous classes before doing this freer activity.
1 Print/Photocopy the activity sheet and give one to each student.
2 Read through the introduction and 18 incomplete sentences with the students to clear up any vocabulary problems.
3 Put the students into pairs or small groups and tell them to complete the sentences using correct grammatical forms and interesting vocabulary.
4 When they finish the 18 sentences, ask them to write a 19th, describing what happened to the family and why they never arrived at their destination.
5 Tell the pairs/groups to exchange their stories and correct any errors they see.
6 Finally, they should give the stories back and each pair/group should read out their own story for general enjoyment and feedback.
Here is an idea on how to turn consolidation material into a competitive activity. Useful especially in review lessons before a test.
Take a review page with exercises, photocopy it and cut up so that each exercise is on a separate piece of paper. (Photocopy and cut up the answers as well)
2. Put the pieces of paper up the walls in your classroom.
3. Put students into pairs (it’s better to pair up shy or weaker students together, as they will be forced to co-operate without depending on stronger students). Give each pair a colour pencil.
4. Students have 5 mins to go around the classroom and complete the activities. RULES: they must take turns to complete the exercises. They can help one another. After completing one sentence on one card they must move to a different card.
5. When the time is up, give each pair a card to check against the answers you have photocopied earlier. They put ticks or crosses on the cards and award each colour team their points.
Students now move on to creating their own tasks.
Choose two types of tasks you want them to practise, e.g. Student A: ‘complete the gaps with the correct form of a verb’, and Student B: ‘correct the sentence’.
Each student in the pair creates an activity for the others writing 4 test sentences to be completed by the others. They write their tasks on separate pieces of paper. The teacher monitors and helps when necessary.
They put their tasks up on the walls.
Students continue the previous game (with the same rules). They must not complete their own tasks.
When the time is up they take down their cards and check the answers.
Again they award the colour teams their points.
This is a way of making a boring resource a little bit more fun. If you monitor attentively you will be able to see which students are struggling with the tasks and help them without drawing the attention of the other students. Also, creating tasks for other students to complete raises their awareness of grammar, helps them concentrate on accuracy and creates a situation in which they definitely know the right answers because they wrote the task! What is more, if a team did badly in Step 1, they have a chance to do better in the other step (the Green team from the photo did rather poorly at the beginning, but it looks like they’d learned something in the process as they improved a lot in their second go). The turn taking keeps everyone on task and the rules on completing keeps everyone working at a similar pace.
And the best thing is that it’s material light and needs very little preparation 🙂 So, you’re welcome!
Time: approximately 2-3h / Age: teenagers / Level: B1 upwards
This post presents a project I did a few years ago with my teenage groups (12 and 15-year-olds) to celebrate World Book Day (23rd April). It took two classes, in which students were first introduced to the idea of a book swap and discussed their reading preferences and then were guided through the process of writing a short book about themselves. Below is a brief description of the two stages.
Present slides with pictures of book piles. Students discuss why the books may have been left there and who might have left them there.
2. They read a text about a book swap project and answer questions about it.
3. Students discuss the idea of book swapping and whether they would participate in it.
4. Students look at some opinions about reading and discuss whether they agree with them or not. They also talk about their own reading preferences and habits.
5. Students look at ideas of encouraging young people to read more and discuss which of them would be effective and which wouldn’t.
1. The teacher tells the students they are going to write a short book about themselves and presents a slide with introductory instructions.
2. Students are guided throughout the process chapter by chapter working on their drafts.
3. The teacher monitors the work, helps with ideas and corrects the drafts.
4. Students are given time to finish off their final draft and decorate the covers of their books.
5. Students swap books and read each others work giving feedback on which information they found surprising, whose book they found funny, well decorated, creative, etc.
The content of either stage can be obviously adapted depending on the age of the students and their interest. The introductory stage may be shortened if you anticipate that the writing stage will take a long time. Alternatively, you could stretch the project over 3 lessons.
When I did the project with my students I expected them to have a negative attitude towards the task. However, the introductory stage put them in the right mood when it comes to talking about books and surprisingly they got down to it quite eagerly. The clear guidance throughout the writing process helped them stay focused and provided ideas on what to write about. Still the best part was the outcome. I was honestly touched by my students’ sincerity and creativity. I saw completely different people through their writing and found out things I had never known about them. It was especially moving to find out how they perceive themselves as their texts revealed some of their insecurities, parts of their personality they tend to hide, and their ambitions.
I highly recommend doing a project of this kind with teenage students as it allows them to express themselves freely and write about what is important to them. Since it’s very personal it is possible that some students may be sensitive about revealing information about themselves. It would be then advisable to consider each group individually and adapt the content to the students in those particular groups. It also means monitoring and assisting students is crucial for the success of the project. The teacher should be led by empathy and offer moral support when needed.