It's always fun to start a lesson by saying, "Ok guys, I want you to pretend I'm an alien just for today." If you choose to do that, it's best to have a concrete plan about what type of alien you're going to be, because you will get lots of questions about number of antennae you have and suggestions for the colors of your space suit. (For demographic purposes, I had two antennae and 6 googly eyes. My spacesuit was purple.)
I introduced myself as an alien to start my How-To writing unit. My students had been having trouble getting a complete thought on paper- they were often leaving important things they meant to say off, and then inserting them back when they read it aloud. I asked them to think about what might happen if an alien landed in their house; how would they teach me all about living on planet Earth? We brainstormed a bunch of things an alien has to know, which was a really fun discussion.
I also showed them the poster I made from the book, so they could see the simple sentences in action.
When we finally started the writing process, I had them think of 6 things they could do with their eyes closed. From there, they chose the thing they were the best at.
We discussed how, for example, if you're teaching the alien to get dressed, you can't just say "Put your socks on." Because where will the alien get the socks from? And what if she puts them on her antennae and leaves the house? Another example we used was, you can't just say, "Cook the rice." Cook it in what? For how long? Cook it where? Doing this exercise really opened their eyes to how specific you have to be when you are writing and speaking.
This example is from my student who has the hardest time writing, but he really blossomed with this activity! He was so excited to show me something he could do. It took many, many, rough drafts but he got it! We had some difficulty understanding the difference between flower and flour and he still doesn't get it, but I will continue to work on that.
|awww he made an alien!|
Today when my kids came in they had the sillies, so while we were editing our final drafts, I had them go into a corner of my room and try and complete their own instructions. I meant to do it as an individual activity to get the wiggles out, but the peals of laughter coming from the corner eventually brought us all over and we ended up watching as each kid tried to complete their own task in pantomime. That was fun and I can see doing it as a listening activity- we will be repeating it for sure!
Stay tuned for part 2, because we're doing more How-To writing next week with Oreo's. For more great writing ideas, check out my pinterest board! Follow Everyone Deserves to Learn's board ESL Writing on Pinterest. Yum!