New Food – A Personal Story Prompt

New food - a personal story prompt, great for past tense practice or essay writing

Here’s a prompt that will help your students tell a past tense story about a personal experience. I would recommend using this toward the end a unit on food. It’s a good way to let students practice some of the food-related vocabulary they have learned.


In case you can’t see the image above, it reads:

Describe a time when you tried a new food. Think about these questions:

  • How did you feel before?

  • Who were you with?

  • Why did you try it?

  • What did it look like?

  • How did it taste?

  • How did you feel after?


Here are a few teaching ideas to get you started on your lesson plan:

  • Warm your students up by asking them to make a list of a few foods that they remember trying for the first time. Tell them that it might be an unusual food (insects, horse meat, etc.), a grown-up food (coffee, beer…), or new cuisine (Thai food, American food…) or just something that they remember trying for the first time (sushi, cupcakes, broccoli, hot peppers…). You might want to list a few of their ideas on the board.
  • Tell your students that they should choose one of their ideas to tell a story about.
  • Display the slide above (or write the questions on the board). Tell your students that they should use these questions as a guideline to help them write their story. Remind them to focus on using correct past tense verbs.
  • If you’d like to focus on speaking instead of writing, you could ask students to prepare index cards and make a presentation rather than writing out the entire story.
  • After they finish, students can present either in small groups, or to the whole class.

Want more?

If you’re looking for more food-related activities, here’s another post you might like: Design a Restaurant Task

Comments

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comment box at the bottom of the page.

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Boom! : A story-starting warm-up prompt

I was leaving my house when... BOOM -- Finish the story prompt

Boom!

Today I have a creative prompt that you can use with students of all ages. It’s so simple and colorful that I think both adults and children would respond well to it. If you’re an ESL teacher like me, it’s a good way to practice simple past and past continuous tenses.

Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Use this as a do-now or warm-up prompt. Display the image on your Smartboard or projector, and ask students to write silently for 5 minutes. Then ask them to share their mini-stories in small groups.
  • Or have students write in small groups and share their stories with the whole class.
  • If you want to make the exercise more structured, try telling students to write 5-sentence stories (or 7-sentence stories or 10-sentence stories…). Each sentence should have a different verb. Here’s an example: (1)First I saw a bear. (2) Then I slammed the door shut. (3)The bear heard the noise. (4)  He ran in my direction. (5) Finally, I called 911, and waited…
  • If you have a lot of visual learners in your class, you might even ask them to draw their stories into a comic panel organizer. After they finish drawing, they can either tell their stories to a partner, or write captions under each picture.

What do you think?

How would YOU finish the story? And if you’ve tried this activity with your students, how did they answer the question? Please share your favorite ideas in the comment box at the bottom of the page.

And if you have any other ideas on how teachers could use this prompt, please share those, as well.

Night Walk – A descriptive writing lesson about sounds in your city

Night Walk - A lesson on descriptive writing with focus on sounds

I thought up the idea for this lesson plan one evening after my IPod battery died in the middle of my walk. In case you’re having trouble seeing the image above, it reads:


Night Walk

On summer nights, my neighborhood is mostly quiet. Crickets buzz, air conditioners whir, and my feet pat, pat, pat against the pavement. There is a low hum of traffic in the distance, and glass dishes clink against tabletops. It smells like dinnertime. Muffled chatter floats from inside of kitchens. A scruffy stray cat on a lawn meows softly, and a kid on a porch shrieks:
“A cockroach!”
“Kill it!”
“YOU kill it!”
“Eeee!”
But mostly it’s dark and quiet, just me and my shoes on the pavement: Pat, pat, pat, pat, pat.


When I was in middle school, my teacher gave us a descriptive writing exercise once a week. She would announce a one-word topic, and we would have a certain amount of time to write a paragraph with as many specific sensory details as possible. Then we would all read them aloud, and “ooh” and “ahh” over each other’s use of descriptive adjectives. That’s kinda what I have in mind for this lesson, although I have some ideas on how to scaffold it for English language leaners. I haven’t tried it with my own students just yet, but here’s what I plan to do:

Step 1:

Display the passage above on the projector, and/or print out a copy of the text for students to look at. I would recommend using the PDF Worksheet which I created to go along with this lesson. Read the passage aloud to the class, and have them underline any words that are used to describe specific sounds.

Step 2:

Make a class chart of sound words from the paragraph, and sources of each sound. For example: Sound – buzz / Source – crickets.

Step 3:

Brainstorm a list of things in your current neighborhood that make sounds. You might give students a few minutes to come up with their own lists of sources in groups. After they finish, you can help them think of descriptive verbs for each source.

Step 4:

Ask students to write their own descriptive paragraph about the sounds that they hear when they walk through their neighborhood. You could either ask them to write about their current neighborhood or about their native countries. I would give them some time to begin writing independently, and then ask them to finish and self-edit it for homework.

Step 5:

Allow students to share their work with classmates. You can deicide how you’d like to do this. You might have everyone read their passages aloud to the class, or just ask a few students whose passages are the most descriptive. Sharing could also be done in small groups. Another idea is to have a writing gallery walk. Everyone can tape their passages to the wall, and then students can walk around, read each other’s writing, and leave comments on post-it notes for their peers to read.

In case you missed it above, click here to view and download my PDF worksheet for this lesson: Worksheet

Comments:

What do you think about the activity above? Do you have any ideas on how it could be improved? I may add a worksheet to this post if anyone is interested, so please let me know if that would be helpful to you.

Have you tried this, or a similar descriptive writing activity with your class? I’d really like to hear about it!

Please feel free to chime in and post your comments in the box at the bottom of the page.