suggested reading for teenagers and young adults

This is a list of books for children, teenagers and young adults, by no means comprehensive, which could be used as reading material in the English classroom, or as recommendations for independent reading:

Further suggestions (year 4 secondary and upwards):

Roald Dahl’s short stories:

Novels:

 

Desert Island Discs as an ice-breaking/mediation activity

Desert Island Discs is a BBC Radio 4 show which has been on air since 1942. The premise behind the show is that the guest has been cast away on a desert island, and they are left with eight recordings, a luxury item and a book, all of their own choosing, together with the complete works of Shakespeare and a copy of the Bible or any other religious/philosophical book. During the show, the guest and host discuss the former’s life, while explaining the reasons why they decided on those particular tracks, book and item.

The guests tend to include world-class celebrities from the fields of culture, literature, Science, entertainment…You can access the archive on the BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs archive. You can find a selection of shows here (literature and music-related podcasts).

This same concept could also be used as a speaking activity for a unit on music/entertainment; to practise second conditionals; or as an ice-breaking activity on the first days of the school year, for students to get to know each other, or for teachers to get to know their students better.

  • What eight recordings would you take to a desert island? Why have you chosen every one of them? How relevant are they to your life? (If you are pressed for time, ask students to pick fewer recordings- it’s a rather time-consuming decision-making process).
  • What luxury item would you take and why?
  • What book would you take and why?

It could even be regarded as a mediation activity: in the Companion Volume to the CEFR, mediating a text includes descriptors for expressing a personal response to creative texts (including literature) [p. 116]. In a way, the student describing their choices (the ‘guest’) would actually be mediating those songs and their lyrics to their partner  (the ‘host’), as they…

  • may express his/her reactions to a work, reporting his/her feelings and ideas in simple language, and say in simple language which aspects of a work especially interested him/her  (A2)
  • might be relating emotions they have felt to those in the song, describe the emotions he/she experienced at a certain point in a story, or explain briefly the feelings and opinions that a work provoked in him/her (B1)
  • could describe his/her emotional response to a work and elaborate on the way in which it has evoked this response, or express in some detail his/her reactions to the form of expression, style and content of a work, explaining what he/she appreciated and why (B2)
  • could be asked to describe in detail his/her personal interpretation of a work, outlining his/her reactions to certain features and explaining their significance (C1/C2).

fake social media generators- ideas for the classroom

In a world where social media prevail (or can it be ‘prevails’?), it might be interesting to bring them into the classroom. Basically because the language to be used in social media is sometimes different to the language of other media, or may require some adaptation; therefore should be dealt with in class. On top of that, because this kind of communicative activity may prove motivating for students, regardless of their ages.

You can find below a list of online tools and apps I have been using lately. For all of the tools described below, my advice to students (and teachers) is for the tweets/texts to be typed on a word document/pages document first, then copy and paste them onto the website or app. That way, if something happens (if the connection gets lost, for example), you will still keep a copy of your work.

Fake Twitter generators: 

Twister– very quick. Just type the (invented) username of the tweeter, their real name, and the tweet. It will create a ‘twister’ post in seconds, with a picture of the person / character.

Fake Twitter generator: create really true-to-life fake tweets.

*Tip: if you’re creating the tweets on a laptop/desktop, when you finish your tweet you can click on the button “save image”. However, if you’re using a tablet, iPad, or any mobile device,  the button is likely not to work. Try taking a screenshot instead.

Fake Fakebook generators:

  • Simitator: creates fake Facebook posts and walls.
  • Fakebook: ‘Fakebook’ page, can include character bio, posts, interactions with other users… Different students can access the page if the teacher shares the code.

example- Fakebook page for Nicola Thorp– a British actress who started a petition against dress code in the office. (Started by me as a teacher, comments by students).

Fake text messages / WhatsApp:

  • Fake WhatsApp texts: up to two characters / people can take part in the conversation. Plenty of options: delivered, read; time; emojis…

text created by teachers in a CPD course

  • Fake iPhone messages: the conversation can include up to three characters. You can customise the operator, battery, signal, time…

  • Texting Story: This Android and iOs free app allows you to showcase dialogues between several characters as if they were texting. The product you get is not an image, but a video of their conversation.

What kinds of activities can you do with these websites and apps?

  • Turn any ‘write a dialogue between’ activity into an ‘imagine the texts that X sent to Y, and their reply’ activity.
  • Create profiles for (and write comments about) historical characters
  • Rewrite well-known plots (literature, film, TV shows), or imagine how they could be retold in tweets, or the conversations the characters could have at a certain point in the plot.
  • Create custom conversations/social media posts as input for a mediation activity in the classroom (Not recommended for exams-whatever input you provide should be real-life material).

Can you think of other activities? Would you like to share your thoughts on this? Leave a comment.

punctuation display

This is just intended as a guide to help students understand how to use punctuation marks properly:

Click on the picture to open pdf file in new tab

tips for secondary students taking B1 (B2) English tests

This is an updated version of a presentation I prepared some time ago for year 4 secondary students getting ready to take B1 (or even B2) English tests. I’m sharing it now in case it might be useful to students taking any such exams:

Link to presentation

Girl with Balloon, by Banksy, shredded

You may have read / heard the story of how a canvas copy of Girl with Balloon, signed by street artist Banksy, self-destructed last Friday moments after it had been sold at auction at Sotheby’s, in London. This is the report from BBC radio 4 six o’clock news (original source here):

Banksy is shrouded in secrecy and mystery (his real identity has never been revealed, for instance). The motives for this action, and the circumstances surrounding it, as well as its consequences, are only a matter of speculation. You may ask your students to speculate on the questions below (or even, ask them to come up with further questions and wonderings of their own):

  • Where was Girl with Balloon originally painted?
  • Was it actually an original Banksy? If so, how did Sotheby’s get hold of a copy of Girl with Balloon signed by Banksy?
  • How could anyone get a shredder inside the painting?
  • What’s going to happen with the £1 million paid for the painting?
  • Some reports claim that the work now will be worth double the amount of money paid for it at the auction. How can that be when it is apparently destroyed?
  • Who did it? Was it Banksy? Why would he do that? Or was it somebody else? Did they need accomplices? Were the gallery in on it? Are Sotheby’s going to get even more profit out of it, or will they be losing money?

Possible answers to these questions might be found in the articles and news reports below:

And this is the video Banksy posted on his instagram account after the incident: (Going, going, gone!)

Follow-up on the story (5th Feb 2019)

World Teachers’ Day (5th October)- some ideas

World Teachers’ Day (October 5th) has been held since 1994. It is a day celebrating teachers and commemorating teacher organisations around the world.  You can also celebrate it with your own students. Here are some ideas and resources:

Goofy (Walt Disney)- Teachers are People: 

In this short film, Goofy becomes a teacher, who has to face a rather trying classroom. One student in particular drives him up the wall.

(H/T to I.L. for sharing the video with me)

  • Click here to watch the video with subtitles.
  • Presentation with some of the actions shown in the short film.

Matilda, by Roald Dahl: Miss Honey vs Miss Trunchbull:

The text below describes Matilda’s teachers, Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull. Students can compare and contrast them by using the graphic organiser below:

You can listen to the text being read by Kate Winslet here:

Kidvice- What kids want you to know about their teachers: 

Some American kids were asked by ABC’s Today show these questions:

  • Tell us about your favourite teacher
  • What do you think makes a good teacher?
  • If you could give your favourite teacher a gift, what would it be?
  • What do you think teachers do for fun?
  • If you could say one thing to your favourite teacher, what would it be?

You can find their answers on the video below (H/T to T.F. for sharing the video with me):

Click on the picture to watch the video

You can ask those very questions to your students, to see what they think, and ask them to write their answers on a mindmap (see below).

 

The Perfect teacher: 

You can ask your students to reflect on and discuss what makes a “perfect” teacher, by answering the questions about the Kidvice video, and writing their answers on a Mind Map like the ones below.

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Then, they can write a short text describing their perfect teacher, following a suggested model.

Finally, why not read some of these stories about the World’s Worst Teachers by David Walliams?

(Post updated on October 5th 2019)