Here is a wee tiny update to my previous post, From Thin Air. I had the same students yesterday and we came up with this after an hour's work: -
Stephen Jackson's Heart
He woke up; while he was making breakfast he lit his first cigarette. He fried three eggs and 200g of bacon in butter, and ate it with lots of fried bread. While enjoying his second cigarette, he made a pot of strong coffee, and drank three cups with another cigarette. He thought “If that Dr. Green could see me now, he’d have a heart attack.”
He had always enjoyed smoking. The taste in his mouth, the cheerful glow of the paper, the lovely blue spiral of smoke. Of course the doctor had told him to cut down, and his ex-wife used to complain. He had been referred to a cardiologist called Green a few years ago after his first heart scare. Naturally Green had repeated the usual platitudes: No smoking or alcohol before breakfast, no deep-fried cheese, no more than three packets a day of Mariner’s Filterless Black and so on. But he felt fine. He could still get up the stairs at home, although he had to stop a for couple of minutes to cough and gasp in the middle.
He went out of his house and found a lot of snow and ice in the street. He needed to get to the hospital by 10 o’clock, but there weren’t any taxis to be seen in the city. He decided to go there by his brand-new red scooter. It was extremely cold and he'd lost his gloves - he couldn’t feel his fingers. He was wearing his helmet but the visor was broken and the snow kept covering up his glasses. In the Gran Via a cat suddenly crossed, and he ran over it. He lost control of the scooter and slipped on the ice. He tipped over and one of his mirrors smashed.
He carried on through the snow without mirrors.
(The authors will remain anonymous until I've asked their permission)
I'm extremely pleased with how it turned out, and again it was a lot of fun. If you'd like to try it, here's the procedure:
1. Recap the original long sentence (see link above)
2. Identify details in it that might be interesting to expand on. One detail for each student ideally.
3. Fill in a couple of key details - in this case, just the character's name, approximate age and that he lives alone. Other details will arise later.
4. Ask each student to sit on their own and try to write a paragraph or so.
5. As each of them finish, read their piece with them. Feel free to ask them to expand a little more on nice details, add a little dialogue, fill out a description as well as correct the English.
6. Draw it all together - either post the papers on the wall, pass them round or ask the authors to read out loud.
Let me know how it goes.