Today I’d like to share a lesson from last week. It was the UU type of class (unplanned & unprepared). Despite (or perhaps because of) its rather spontaneous nature, it went really well.
The topic we were discussing last week was Books and Reading. We talked about reading habits, writers, various types of publications and genres. Suddenly, an interesting idea occurred to me. I paired students up and asked them to imagine being newbie writers. I told them that nowadays, co-authors are on the rise and I mentioned some famous writers who like to co-write. I asked each pair to brainstorm ideas and write the first chapter of a book they’d like to publish. They could choose the type of publication and the genre, but it had to be gripping enough to capture the publishers’ attention.
The chapter had to be up to 120 words only. The product needed to be short enough to be easily shared in the class. There were 14 people in the class, i.e. 7 stories altogether. Each pair worked on their stories for about 40 minutes. Those who hadn’t finished the product in the lesson could do it as a homework assignment.
In the next lesson, one pair apologized for having left their stories at home. At first, I was a bit angry, but then I realized that I can turn this to my advantage. I told the two girls they were going to be publishers, and their task was to choose three books out of the six we had.
Each pair presented their piece of writing in front of the class. The publishers took notes while listening. We had one autobiography, a fantasy book, a fable, two pure detective stories and one psychothriller with elements of horror and fantasy.
After the co-authors presented their products, the publishers could ask them questions which would clarify things and help them make a decision. At this point, the lesson turned into an interesting speaking activity. After that, each pair got some extra time to say why they thought their book was the best. Finally, I myself stepped in and asked some more questions I had jotted down before. During this stage, students practiced lots of useful literature words and many new vocabulary items emerged throughout the activity.
In the end, I gave the publishers a couple of minutes to quietly discuss their choices. Then they announced the verdict and justified their decisions. They also had to explain why they wouldn’t publish the other three books.
I was particularly pleased with the fact that all the work was done by the students. I was just an observer most of the time. In addition, the activity revealed a lot about students’ interests and literature taste, which we can elaborate on later.