Teacher Tuesday: Biography cubes

Biography cubes lesson idea
Completed biography cubes.

An excellent activity for any classes studying within the topic Talking about other people which seems to crop up in any TEFL textbook I have had thrust on me.  I have used this lesson multiple times with various classes and it has always been really successful.

Students choose their favourite celebrity and complete a worksheet with five basic sections;

What is his/her name?  Where was he/she born?

What does he/she look like?

What is his/her personality like?

What are his/her likes and dislikes?

Write three sentences about your chosen celebrity.

The sixth section requires a printed photograph of the celebrity.  Six sections = 1 section for each side of the biography cube you will be making!

If you have internet access this can be completed in class, but I preferred to do an example on the board and set it for homework.

Once the worksheet is completed and the students have a photograph, use the cube template and write the information from the sections on the cube (1 section = 1 side), sticking the photograph on the sixth side.

Et voilas!  Biography cubes!  I like to hang them from the back of the classroom (to show them off and also to stop them getting damaged).

The concept of using a 3D paper cube to display work can easily be adapted to fit within plenty of topics; it’s a nice creative way to explore an otherwise dry subject.  Have a go yourself and let me know all about it in the comments below.

This is part of a weekly feature on the Cornish Kylie blog.  If you have a lesson idea you would like to share, please get in touch!

 

Teacher Tuesday: Mr Bean writing exercise

Thai students LOVE Mr. Bean.  With little to no language in it is easily adaptable for a range of uses in the classroom.  (Interestingly, the Thai dubbed version features loads of speech which kind of takes away from the old school slapstick/silent comedy feel of the programme.  As usual, I digress…)

One way that you can use Mr. Bean in the classroom is to play a video to the students (there are plenty on YouTube) and then ask them to recall what they had watched and write a piece of narrative writing.

Some variations could be…

  • pause the video at various intervals and ask what is happening?
  • cue discussion of what might happen next?
  • stop it before the end and ask for alternative endings
  • discuss key vocabulary, adjectives and verbs
  • write a timeline or storyboard

Here is one piece of writing created by a student in one of my writing classes using the video above:

creative writing

Of course, you could do this lesson with any short video – if you have a go feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

This is part of a new weekly feature – Teacher Tuesday – make sure you come back next week for another lesson idea.  If you have an idea to share as part of Teacher Tuesday feel free to get in touch 

 

 

In my classroom: Onomatopoeia part 2 – Fireworks

Looking for Halloween lesson ideas?  Click here!

In the previous lesson I introduced the concept of onomatopoeia and we looked at examples of sound words and their uses.  In this lesson I wanted the students to apply the new words that they had learned.

To start the lesson I played the audio only of the video below.  I didn’t tell them any information about the video, just asking them to listen carefully and think about what they can hear.

We listened to it another time, and this time I encouraged the students to think about what sound words could be used to describe the sounds we could hear.

Some sound words suggested included;

bang        pop           whoosh

crackle         crack         snap

fizz          hiss         boom

We then listened for a third and final time, followed by a brainstorm on the board about what the students thought they could hear.

Some things that the students thought that they could hear included;

balloon exploding        war       plastic bag

frying         cashier       snakes

tearing      velcro     fireworks

far away guns

After a good discussion about the sounds that we could hear and what they might be, I finally played the video on the projector screen for all to see.  The students were really excited to find out what the sounds were and they were surprised to find that they were all different types of fireworks.  As we watched the video I pointed out the different sound words as they appeared.

I then handed out this worksheet where students needed to think about sound words (onomatopoeia), action words (verbs) and adjectives that could be used to describe the fireworks in the video.

I then asked students to come up with five descriptive sentences using the words on their worksheet.  For students that find free writing a little more challenging I wrote a few sentence structures on the board to help them;

Fireworks are (action) and (action) in the night sky.
(Adjective) fireworks (sound) and (sound).
Fireworks (sound), (action) and (action).
(Adjective) fireworks (sound –ing) and (sound-ing).
Using examples on google images, I asked the students to use their sentences to create a fireworks shape poem for homework.
Here are some examples of the work that I received the following lesson.
New fireworks poem
firework poemThis one in particular impressed me as the student had created rhymes and a good rhythm which I hadn’t asked for.  Although it wasn’t strictly a shape poem…!
I have a lot more that I want to take some pictures of but I went and gave them back to the students before I had thought about getting a few snaps!  Hopefully I will be able to add them at a later date as there was some really impressive work.
This was a really fun couple of lessons covering a subject that an ESL teacher usually wouldn’t have included in their curricculum – the beauty of being left to my own devices.  Some people find the thought of teaching creative writing a bit daunting but hopefully this goes to show that if you simplify and break down the process you can have entire classes of students creating wonderful pieces of writing!

This is the second lesson of two that I taught within the topic of onomatopoeia.  If you would like to check out the first lesson, click here.

 

In my classroom: Onomatopoeia

In one of my English Writing classes we have been looking at creative writing and how important it is to make your writing as interesting as possible.  In my classroom I refer to ‘WOW’ words which are interesting, exciting and different words that the students can use to jazz up their work.  As I have been left to my own devices when it comes to my writing classes I am able to teach whatever I like and so I thought it would be really fun to look at onomatopoeia  with some of my classes to build up their collection of ‘WOW’ words.

The lesson went really well; the students really enjoyed it as did I.  So I thought I would share it for any other teachers out there who may be interested…

So I walk into the classroom and write ‘onomatopoeia’ across the board in massive writing to make the word look even longer and scarier.  This is breaking one of the cardinal rules of ESL teaching – you don’t walk in and write a grammar term on the board – you teach it first and then tell the students the official name for it once they have an understanding of it’s use, if you tell them at all.  But I wanted to de-mistify this long and scary word from the start, and the students thought it was hiarious as I wrote this ever lasting word (it has EIGHT vowels – that is simply insane) and when they tried to pronounce it they all got the giggles.  During the lesson I didn’t actually refer to onomatopoeia using the word, ‘onomatopoeia’.  A word that length and with that many vowels is just plain scary to 12 year old ESL learners!  I referred to the words as sound words which is much more student friendly.

After explaining that we were going to build on our ‘WOW’ words with special sound words, we watched the video below.  It’s a super catchy song so I was dancing around and encouraging the students to as well.  Onomatopoeia is fun guys!

Introducton – Onomatopoeia video:

So we watched the video a couple of times and the kids instantly understood what the lesson was going to be about.  Students were baaing and mooing and boinging and whooshing all over the place.  I explained that we can use these sound words to describe all sorts of things; animals, people, actions, cars, nature – anything.  Cue wonderful white board work and mindmap of examples of onomatopoeia.

Pair work – matching activity:

Then in pairs, the students did a matching activity where they had to match the sound word to the correct picture.  Some words weren’t in the video but the beauty of onomatopoeia is that the words sound like the sound that they are (if that makes any sense at all…) so the students were able to figure them out, occasionally aided by my wonderful impressions of car engines, slamming doors and sneezing.

I made the matching activity using random images from google so some of them have got watermarks on them (naught, naughty) but it worked fine.  I think if I was going to print and laminate a few sets (oooh, I love a bit of laminating) then maybe I would make sure all the images were proper.

Download the pdf file here: Onomatopoeia matching activity.  I cut the words out and left the pictures as 2 sheets of A4, asking the students to place the word on top of the correct picture.

General madness in the loose guise as an educational game:

We then played a game involving lots of running around, scribbling on the board, barking like a dog/ screeching around like a car/ flying like a rocket – BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT WAS TOTALLY EDUCATIONAL AND WAS DRUMMING THESE NEW SOUND WORDS INTO THEIR WONDERFUL SPONGE-LIKE MINDS.  Ah, the beauty of teaching.

And that was our super fun onomatopoeia lesson.

Aaaand the song from the video is now stuck in all of our heads isn’t it?