Tag Archives: writing

Timesaver: Repository of Writing Prompts for Every Essay Type

Although I have been doing this job for a long time, it still surprises me to realize how terribly inefficient I can be at times. I think this must be one of the reasons why I started this blog.

It’s hard to understand, even for me and about myself, why I do not have a repository of writing topics to give my students. Is it the same for you?

How many times, for God’s sake, have I given my students the task of writing an opinion essay or a cover letter? Hundreds. Well, believe it or not, every single time I spend precious time looking for an adequate topic or a suitable advertisement. After 3o years doing the same, one would think I should have a dozen to choose from.

Nothing like that, believe me; that’s why this post is so necessary. What you will find below are links to websites with lots of possibilities to choose from. In some cases, they are not only inspiration for writing but also for speaking activities/assignments. Lets’ jump right in!

A bit of everything

501  Writing Prompts ( persuasive, expository, narrative and literary) targets students,  encouraging autonomous learning by including model essays for a certain number of prompts so that students can compare and contrast their writing. It also includes a  scoring guide. Students are encouraged to use this guide to get an idea of how their essay may be graded.

Essay questions divided by topic

From IELTS LIZ, we get 100 essay questions organized alphabetically by topic: from Art to Work and much more.

Narrative and Personal Writing

From The NewYork Times, we get 550 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.

Lots of writing prompts touching from family life to pop culture, gender roles, video games, social media, travel and more.

Creative Writing Prompts

  • Creative writing Prompts is a site that I use for 15-minute writing practice in class.Some suggestions to use this website:
    • A quick writing activity in class. Students decide on a number and write for about 15 minutes. You can do this activity often as it only takes 15 minutes and gives them a lot of practice if done regularly. They also get direct help from the teacher as it’s a class activity.
    • You can also divide the class into pairs or groups of three, depending on how large your class is and ask each group to assign a writing task to another group in the class by choosing a random prompt. Students write their stories. Set a time limit of 30 or 35 minutes. Put their stories up on the walls of the class for all the students to read.
    • Brainstorm vocabulary recently studied. Make sure there is a variety of nouns, adjectives, phrasal verbs, idioms…etc to choose from. Write them on the board. Ask students to choose two numbers and write the two prompts on the board too. Students choose one of these options and write their story including some of the target vocabulary.
  • 100 Creative Writing Prompts for Middle School includes a selection of story starters, research prompts and expository prompts among others
Argumentative, Persuasive, Opinion Essay Prompts

 

Formal and Informal Emails/letters

If you know of any other great sites, please leave a comment with writing prompts, leave a comment.

Lesson Plan for C1: Politics and Politicians.

I am certain I am not the only one who is fed up with politicians. Should you ask my friends, they’ll tell you that I never talk about politics. I never criticize or praise politicians. I talk about life, about life issues, but always being respectful of other people’s attitudes. I don’t like radical people. I don’t want them around me. I know that some of you might think knowing about politics is a necessity. I don’t disagree.  However, getting into heated arguments with people who have a different point of view is, in my opinion, a waste of time and frustrating. So, I don’t do it. And, in this frame of mind, I will approach this lesson about Politics.

PDF Teacher’s     PDF Student’s

Warm-up. Whole class
  •  What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the word POLITICIAN?
  • What is the minimum voting age in your country? Should it be higher or lower?   See: Voting age around the world
  • What are the main political parties in your country? Who is the most controversial politician?  useful vocabulary here.

 

Working on Vocabulary: Adjectives
  • On the board, write three headings: positive, negative and neutral and ask students to do the same in their notebooks. Tell them you are going to dictate a list of adjectives and qualities that can be applied to politicians.
  • Start calling out adjectives and ask them to place them under one of the columns. You might need to spell some of them, or alternatively write them down on the board. It is a good opportunity to drill pronunciation and clarify/teach meanings.
  • Do the exercise on the board. There might be slight disagreements and that is just fine.

Focusing on Listening:  How the US  and the UK election works

This listening exercise has different parts

Individual work:

  • Students are divided into pairs. Student A listens to How the US election works and Student B to How the UK election works. In my case, I have set it as homework but you can do it in class, asking students to bring some earbuds.
  • As students listen, ask them to write down any words/expressions related to the topic. Ask them to look them up and practise their pronunciation as they might be asked to explain some terms to the class.

In class:

  • Using Mentimeter, ask them to write the words they jotted down from the video. Once the cloud is formed, point to one word and ask them to explain it.

  • Pair up A and B and ask them to report their findings.

Student A. How the US election works

Student B: The voting system in the Uk

Follow up: Cloze with a twist.

Give students the transcript for both videos. Tell them you have deleted some words from the transcript. They will have to listen very attentively as there are no empty spaces showing there is a missing word. Ask them to compare in pairs before correcting the exercise.  You will find the exercise in the PDF.

Working on Vocabulary

Have a look at how these verbs collocate

  • Boost the economy
  • Harm/benefit someone or an organization
  • Put a strain on the finances of a country/area
  • Exacerbate a problem
  • Undermine the morale of citizens
  • Create divisions
  • Lead to tensions
  • Cut taxes
  • Extend working hours
  • Increase public spending
  • Abolish unemployment benefits
  • Allow a vote on independence
  • Increase penalties for…
  • Damage the economy
  • Resolve existing social problems
  • Rise of income inequality
  • Reform the education system
  • Solve social problems
  • Ensure prosperity
  • Hold an election
  • Rig the election
  • Stand for election

Other words you might want to know: floating voters. popularity ratings, a right-winger, a left-winger, a polling station, a running mate, a high turnout, voting booth, ballot card

Speaking

Before each section, ask students to call out 6 words or expressions they have learned in this unit. Divide the class into As and Bs and assign As three words and Bs three words. Display the first section and ask them to take in turns to answer the questions trying to use the vocabulary on the board

Politcs and Policiticians

 

Speaking and writing using Flipgrid

I have been dying to use Flipgris’s new update. “And what is it that has you so excited?” -you might be wondering. Well, it is the possibility of responding to a video in a written form.  Imagine the possibilities, imagine the potential it has for language teaching.

So, here’s the first activity for my students using the brand new Text Comments. I know it is a dangerous activity, but I teach adults and am relying on their self-restraint.

A Digital Board Game to Use “Would you Rather” in Speaking and Writing

Is there anything better than a little game to break the ice?

This board game I am sharing with you today is meant to be used as a get-to-know-each-other activity for my first class, but I am sure it can be used in other contexts.

Here’s the thing,I like games as much as the next girl;  buut…, although I haven’t started teaching yet, I already feel the pressure of an overwhelming curriculum. Is it the same for you? So, first-day fun speaking activities? Totally. But, and this is a big “but”, adding a grammar structure that needs to be learned.

This year, goodbye normalcy. So long. See you next year. Hopefully.

 

  • Aim: to teach or revise “would rather” in positive, negative and interrogative sentences
  • Skills: speaking and writing
  • Level: B2 and upwards
  • Handout: “would rather” grammar, here

After explaining/revising the grammar and giving and asking for lots of examples both in written and spoken form, it’s time to play with our digital board game. I have used Genial.ly, one of my fave sites to create content for my classes.

The instructions are pretty simple.

  1. Ask students to work in pairs.
  2. Throw the built-in dice and move the counter.
  3. Click on the square and a would you rather question would be displayed.
  4. Ask students to work in pairs expressing their preferences. Encourage them to elaborate on their answers.
  5. Choose a couple of students to express their preferences aloud for the rest of the class. You can always ask someone who has chosen a different option in the would you rather question. Students answers should follow this model:
  •            Question: Would you rather be Donal Trump or Melania Trump for a moth?
  •            Answer: I’d rather be Melania Trump than D. Trump because…

       6. Writing: if they land on a square with the question gif, students will need to write a “would you rather” question for the teacher. Yes. You have to answer. You are allowed some white lies, though.

EXTRA: to spice up this activity a bit more, you might ask random students to guess your preference.

Note: You  might want to c

lick on the arrows to enlarge the board

 

FOLLOW UP: Working with Would you Prefer

Below, you will find the same board; only this time, students will be required to use a Would Prefer structure

  • Would you prefer to be Donal Trump or Melania Trump for a moth?
  • I’d prefer to be Donald Trump rather than Melania Trump because…

This is a perfect example of killing two birds with one stone: same board, two grammar points.

Giving Students a Fun Challenging Written Assignment

So there’s mediation written assignments, then there’s creative mediation written assignments and then, there’s ANIMATED mediation written assignments.

Naturally I am a huge supporter of anything that involves using digital tools, and this activity is packed with digital tools; not only on my end, to create and present the assignment to my students but also on their end, to animate and share their creative animated task.

Here’s what we’re working with:

  • I have used: Google slides, Genial.ly, the Google chrome extension Bitmoji
  • Students will have to use: Render Forest and then share their animate videos on a Padlet.

The activity is explained in the Genial.ly below.

Note: click on the arrows, on the bottom right corner of the Genial.ly, for a better experience. 🙂

 

Teaching Online? An Engaging Little Tool you and your Students are Gonna Love

Are you teaching remotely? You are gonna love this tool!!!!

Guess what. I have the most incredible job in the world. I love teaching. It might seem boring from the outside. Even some people might say it is repetitive; you know, always teaching the same things … but believe me when I tell you that if you are willing and committed to teaching, you can explore ways to make teaching always new for you. And this is what has kept me hooked to this job all my life. Having fun trying new things. Some work, some don’t. What I am going to share with you today, definitely works.

So, this morning I woke up well-rested and thinking about my next online lesson and racking my brains about how to make my next class memorable and effective for my students. And then, I had an aha moment and pictured a tool I had on my virtual ever-growing shelf named “Things to Try”.

The tool is called Classroom Q and below, you will get a sneak peek of what the tool can do. This is a recording of one of my classes doing different tasks. (00:10)

Why do I like it?

This tool has some ingredients that are my absolute favourites:

  • Simple
  • Free
  • Engaging
  • Interactive
  • and to top it all, students don’t have to register
What is ClassroomQ?

ClassroomQ was designed as a  virtual hand-raising tool that lets students ask questions and wait in a queue for their teacher’s assistance. But, I have not used it for this.

ClassroomQ has an online buzzer which can be used to play games or to turn a boring exercise into a game. However, the great thing about this tool is not its buzzer, it is its Box for Comments. This is where students can write whatever assignment you have given them. It allows a maximum of 200 characters/ about 35 words)

Imagine the possibilities: from very quick answers, like “what is the past of “take?” to more complex written assignments, like writing a small paragraph containing XXX

What gets students really engaged and motivated is the possibility to interact in real-time and the added challenge of being the first to answer correctly.

Instructions for the teacher
  • Go to https://classroomq/ and sign up.
  • You will be given a class code you will need to share with your students.
  • For more detailed instructions, watch these short video tutorials below
How have I used Classroom Q with my students?

Before the class: 

As we are revising Sports,  I created a hangman hiding vocabulary related to, obviously, sports. To get the chance to say a letter and guess the hidden word, I posed a question they needed to answer using ClassroomQ. I asked a mix of very short answers and some sentences to translate using the vocabulary in context. Classroom Q displays the answers of the first 5 fastest students. You can make room for another student to move up the queue by clicking on the name of one student and deleting them from the queue. They can also remove themselves from the queue by clicking their Cancel Button.

For more details, I have recorded these short video tutorials where I explain in detail how the tool works.

Part 1: The Teacher’s interface1:45)

Part 2: The student’s interface. (1:50)

Part 3: Viewing the students’ interactions (1:149

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