“Continue the story…”

On the first week of classes, I had my level 2 writing students get into groups of four and trade off writing stories based around four prompts. Two of the prompts were:

  1.  One day I went to school and saw it was under attack by aliens!
  2. One day I decided to go running in a haunted forest.

Here are some examples of their writing at the beginning of the semester:

  • Aliens ate many students and teachers. But a person was left alone. He is a superman! He can fight aliens. Aliens bit his leg. He had damages. But he was boyscout. He treated himself. He put up a good fight. Aliens grew weak.
  • One day I went to school and saw it was under attack by aliens! (This was the prompt.) They said “We are aliens. We’re from space.” I was very surprised and afraid of them. But we ate stacks together. Because we must eat stacks. We’ll strong what eat stacks. My skin changed green. and my eyes changed big. I looks like aliens.
  • One day I decided to go running in a haunted forest. I saw a bear. Bear appeared my behind. Bear introduced self in English. Bear’s name is Toby. Toby is so big!! His tall is about two meters. He doesn’t eat human. Because I was relieved. I made friends with Toby.

Toward the very end of the semester if I would love to redo this activity for fun.

In the meantime we are writing short essays (4 paragraphs) on My Dream Vacation. 🙂 I asked my students to answer certain questions like: Where did you go? How long did you stay? How much money did you spend? What did you do? (3 things) What did you eat? (3 things) How did you feel?

In one class, students are writing about imaginary vacations to China, England, America (Las Vegas, Hawaii) France, Spain, Italy, India, and Kyoto. In another class students are writing about those countries plus Thailand, Tahiti, Korea, and New Caledonia (a place that I’d never heard of), a French collectivity on a small archipelago to the east of Australia that is said to be “heaven on Earth”. Because I know that many of my students have never gone abroad before, I advised them to write about a foreign country rather than a place inside Japan. Many students might have originally written about Hokkaido or Okinawa. (The Kyoto student is an exception because he was absent for the brainstorming class.) To increase diversity I also limited one country to two students, so not everyone could write about Hawaii. In the brainstorming stages I allowed them to use smartphones to look up foods, activities, and places specific to those sites.

In class I usually go over certain grammar points and common mistakes within writing (a vs. the, comma usage, missing words, incomplete sentences/clauses as sentences, spelling, etc.). Last week I worked on past tense verbs that might be used to describe a vacation, and this week I taught about adjectives (to describe hotel, food, activities, mood) and connecting shorter sentences to form longer ones. (“I went to America. I went with my family. I stayed for 3 weeks.” –> “I went to America with my family for three weeks.”) I also reviewed essay structure (Intro, Body paragraph A, Body paragraph B, Conclusion) and mentioned the indentations at the beginning of paragraphs. I’m impressed with the first drafts of some of my students, and look forward to seeing their improvement over the semester.

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