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Messages - Sophie

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Creative Writing / Critiquing Short Stories
« on: May 01, 2012, 02:31:30 AM »
      We've been writing critiques for a long time, however in almost all cases, we critique academic papers instead of stories. In this class I want to introduce students how to critique short stories, and target students could be intermediate or higher level EFL or ESL learners.
      Generally speaking, critiquing short stories can seem to many people like an entirely subjective exercise, because people might judge others' stories only by their own preference. While it is true that different readers are likely to react to stories differently, the fact of the matter is that there are technical, objective criteria you can use to analyze and critique short stories.
       I found an interesting website introducing the techniques of critiquing short stories, and I want to apply this in this writing class I might teach in the future.
      The website is:

     I love this topic so much! As an English learner, I once puzzled a lot about whether I need to look up the dictionaries to find the unfamiliar words. Actually, in most of the cases I was distracted from reading when I used dictionaries. After looking up the words, sometimes I had to review what I just read again, which lowered my reading speed and wasted a lot of time.  What's more, I also had the problem of not understanding the whole reading because of unknown words. The techniques you introduced in your practice day about how to guess meaning of words really helped me a lot!

General Writing Resources / Creative Writing: Short Stories
« on: April 29, 2012, 07:43:11 PM »
    Creative writing is anything where the purpose is to express thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than to simply convey information. Since creative writing could be a general term, I think it's better for teachers to focus on one aspect every time when training students' creativity in writing. I'll focus on creative writing of short stories.
    Apparently, some techniques of story writing could be very different from other academic writings. I found a website on which 10 tips of writing short stories are listed. They are:
  • Get Started: Emergency Tips
  • Write a Catchy First Paragraph
  • Develop Your Characters
  • Choose a Point of View
  • Write Meaningful Dialogue
  • Use Setting and Context
  • Set up the Plot
  • Create Conflict and Tension
  • Build to a Crisis or a Climax
  • Deliver a Resolution
  On this website(, it also shows the detailed tips to help creative writers making their short stories more attractive. These could be useful instructions for students to get acquainted with short story writing. The target students are intermediate or higher level  ESL or EFL learners.
  Writing stories could be a good way to train students' creativity. Furthermore, teachers could give students some classic short stories to read in class , which will not only improve students' reading ability, but also let them learn writing techniques from these classic works.  :book

Vocabulary / Re: Apples to Apples
« on: March 29, 2012, 01:13:21 PM »
As a nonnative speaker, I never heard this activity before, but it has already attracted me so much!  Using this interesting game as an in-class activity will definitely help students get to know more vocabularies and  how to use them appropriately.  ;) ;) ;)

Getting to Know You Activities / Re: Find someone who....
« on: March 07, 2012, 03:44:56 PM »
I love this ice breaker activity! It's not only a good way for students to get acquainted with each other, but also an effective method for them to participate and talk in class. As an international student, I was so nervous the first day I went to class here. If this ice breaker activity could replace the rigid "Self Introduction" part, I could feel more relaxed.  :P

 I also think using visual image is a good way in the pre-reading activity since students' background knowledge of Pulstars might be quite different. And aslo, some students might not interested in subjects about science (like me). In this condition if we give them some scientific material about stars to read, they could feel boring. The video about stars does not need to be very long and complicated, and it's OK if it just covers some simple backgound of Pulstars. If time is enough, teacher could also give students some time to share their knowledge of Pulstars to encourage their participation in class.  :P

Molly,I think this class must be very interesting! Using "Calvin and Hobbes" comics as your source in reading class must be very attractive for older students. In most of the cases, the reading class for older language learners always use academic material which is long and tedious. Even though older students are better at concentrating in class than the younger ones, I think they still need something new and fun to motivate their learning. And also, contextualizing vocabulary and grammar in reading comics is a good and effective way for language learners to make progress in improving their reading ability.  ;)

Creative Writing / Practice Day:Creative Writing with Visual Images
« on: February 28, 2012, 01:46:07 PM »
Main ideas: Using students imagination and creativity to raise their interest in writing.

Target students: Intermediate or higher level EFL or ESL students (That depends on the materials we use.)

Materials we use: 
The Dark Knight- Joker Interrogation Scene Spoof

                              Snow White: Dramatic Death Plot (The video's owner prevents external embedding)

The creative writing activities could be used frequently in writing classes and last for 5 minutes for each class. In that way students could practice their creativity and free writing skills step by step.  :book

-----Evance and Sophie


Harry Potter Lessons! / Re: A lesson on cultural difference
« on: February 02, 2012, 01:22:24 PM »
Sarah, I like the idea of talking about cultural difference in the reading class based on Harry Potter.  You've already covered the topic, the objectives and  procedures of class, and those makes your class plan very clear to the readers. I think if you could add the following details, including the age group of your potential students, the time spending on each part of the class, and what kind of instructions the teacher will give to the students to help them distinguish the cultural differences, your class plan will be perfect.  :notworthy

 Hey Marcia,
              I love your ideas! Showing  students part of the movie at the beginning of class will definitely attract students’ attention. I also think from the angle of descriptive language is a good way to practice students’ reading skills. With the teacher’s instruction, students will learn how to deal with the descriptive details in the novel.   And also, connecting what they learned in Harry Potter with students’ own experience is a good way to let them practice what they already learned in everyday use.  ;)

Harry Potter Lessons! / Harry Potter lesson: reading and thinking together
« on: February 02, 2012, 02:37:53 AM »
    Chapter one of Harry Potter is only the beginning part of the whole story, but it’s already attractive enough to draw readers’ attention to this special boy and the mysterious things around him. J.K.Rowling is very good at using suspense: she leaves a lot of hints for readers to guess what kind of unexpected things will happen on Harry. The reading class based on this chapter could make use of the hints, and practice students’ creative thinking ability through reading.
    Reading is not only seeing through the words, sentences and discourses. Effective reading should be along with readers’ own process of thinking. In this class, we could use “What might happen?” as a possible topic. Students can be separated into groups of 4 or 5, discussing how to use the known information to imagine or guess what will happen in the following story. Before the discussion part, teacher could give students some suggestions about how to connect the small parts together, and how to make predictions from a general point of view. And in that way, students will also cultivate the ability of reading and thinking coherently.   :D

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