lunes, 7 de marzo de 2011

From Thin Air

Anna of Magpie Moments has been blogging recently about student-generated material. I too am in love with the idea of no-teacher's-materials - the portablility, the minimalism, the concentration, the lack of faffing and distraction. Recently with several classes I've been trying out in-class fiction writing various ways.

Today just before my class with a small group of adult lower intermediates, I remembered an activity from a Rinvolucri book - the Expanding Sentence - or some similar name. I started by putting a very short but complete sentence on the board - in this case "He went to hospital." For this exercise you have to space out the words using the whole board:

Each player then has to add a short phrase (1-3 words) to the sentence, at any place, and leave the sentence still making sense. A nice touch was to give each player a different colour of marker. We had something like this halfway through:

What we finished up with 20 minutes later was:

After eating a breakfast - the usual eggs and bacon, against medical advice - HE didn't go to work in Asturias, but instead WENT quickly and nervously by his new, red scooter through the snow and the ice TO the University HOSPITAL in Madrid to have a coronary checkup on the 4th floor, east side, with Doctor Green, not the best expert in the country, and his incompetent team of hungover students.

Now that, to my mind, is practically a chapter's worth of information. And there was a good sense of involvement and giggling, which is always a bonus.

What I intend to do next lesson is to recap the sentence approximately, and then ask the students each to write a couple of paragraphs more on one subject like this:

His coronary problem; his journey to hospital through the bad weather; some background about the incompetent Dr Green, and so on.

I might see if they can write a little about the consultation with the doctor in another lesson.

I'd love to hear from you, especially if you try writing fiction in class.

8 comentarios:

  1. This is fantastic. It doesn't have to be constricted to just fiction writing. I think this would be excellent for exam writing.

  2. Hi Alan

    Thanks for the mention :-p... this activity sounds like a lot of fun. Thinking of giving it a try! What level did you do it with and how many were in your class?

    Looking forward to hearing more about your experiments with unplugged teaching :-)


  3. Glad you dropped in Anna. This particular class was only 3 adult lower ints. You might have to rethink the dynamic with classes of more than a dozen. But I'd be tempted to do exactly the same with just about any level past beginner. We did the follow-up lesson, which I'll post ASAP.

  4. Hi Alan,
    This has always been one of my favourite activities. Through Twitter I have discovered that can be a good way for students to take this activity home as well. Here's one my student made:

  5. Thanks for the tip, Sandy, as well as the visit. It looks great. How do you use it in class?

  6. Before HE took his plane to fly to Rome to meet a client, a wealthy woman from Brazil who wanted to divorce her husband, Richanr, a rich lawyer, hirriedly WENT to buy a present for his lover, a brand new red Smart. He didn't know hot to earn her forgiveness, since he had to go to Bergamo HOSPITAL to visit his girlfriend Sarah, who had just had a baby. But he didn't know their family were there, because she wanted to "surprise" him and get him to propose, about time, after 20 years of engagement.

  7. Sorry, source, upper intermediate group of adult Students form DHL, Bergamo