New pens by Churl on Flickr (well worth reading the comments on this photo!)
I went back to thieving / borrowing / appropriating (delete as appropriate) from the blogosphere this week, combining a couple of lesson ideas into a lesson that ended up being one of my better ones this year for engaging students. My sources this time were the six word stories activity I read about on Teaching Village, combined with an idea i took from the (now sadly defunct) Kalinago English. My lesson plan was very simple. Give them a photo to write a six word story for, allow the class to vote for their favourites (and award points), then ask the class to correct any errors they see. The twist is that if you correct an error in a team’s sentence you can steal a point from them for your team. The team with the most points at the end of the lesson wins a piece of candy each.
This is a really easy lesson to do if you have a computer in your classroom connected to some kind of viewing device (as almost every classroom does in Korea.) All that is required are some interesting photos from Flickr put into a Powerpoint with a text field embedded beneath them. If you’re not sure how to do this, just modify the presentation below. I should note that I forgot to credit the photo owners in my presentation. My sincere apologies for this – get in touch if they’re yours and I’ll attribute them to you.
Lesson plan to download
Edit: I’ve since made a further Powerpoint based on this activity. You can read the post and download it here.
This lesson is wonderful for tidying up student grammar on a sentence level. It doesn’t really help much on a wider level, but my students still make a lot of very basic errors, so this is really helpful for them. The level of interest in almost all of the classes I tried this with was excellent. Most surprising was my second year vocational group, who I usually struggle to find anything to do with, suddenly becoming desperate to score points from each other, and fiercely debating points of grammar, meaning and punctuation. I really wish I could do this lesson every week with them, as they produced some of the best work of any of my classes. As important as the micro-grammar that this practices is the room to check that the meaning of sentences is entirely accurate. In one class we had a long discussion as to whether a dog was biting a face or a neck, and then realising that it was in fact “will” bite. I think that subtleties like this are almost more important than the grammar work done in this lesson.
For the most part I think that students really get a lot out of correcting each others errors. It makes them think of the grammar they know in detail, and it’s also a great chance to get one over on their friends. It’s also pleasing to see how quickly they improve when they get to the second and third stories – everything is nicely written and perfectly punctuated. I do have a slight worry that perhaps students opt for the simple to avoid errors, but I would hope that a good idea would inspire them to try some more difficult language. There was also the problem of one class who seemed less willing to point out their friends’ errors, though the other ten classes I tried this with were much keener.
I’m going to leave the final words to my students, with some of the best contributions for each picture. If some are more than 6 words, it’s because they are post-correction.
“Wow! Amazing! I am a lazerman!” .
And that is all for now I think. If anyone wants tobuy any of my students’ lines for inclusion in a book or film, please make your offers in the comments section below.