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Messages - Ruth Chung

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Creative Writing / Explain in 100 words!
« on: March 31, 2020, 05:44:20 PM »
This exercise is geared towards focusing on thoughtfulness in writing, as well as being concise in writing. The students will be assigned to pick a topic they do not know much about. For example, "traditional Brazilian culture." Then, the students are instructed to do a basic search on it, and then explain one aspect about their topic in 100 words or less.

This exercise can be adjusted to different age groups according to the topic. For example, for younger students, the instructor can assign the students to read a certain picture book in the student's L2, and then give a 100 word (or less) summary about the book. Or, the teacher can give a list of topics that the students can choose from that day. This exercise can also be used to enhance learning about a certain classroom content topic for maybe high school age (i.e. a historical event from history class or a novel from English literature class, a current event, or another concept learned in another class).

Another way to adjust the exercise: change the idea of "100 words or less" to "EXACTLY 100 words." This adds an extra twist to make the exercise more challenging and encourages students to be more selective with words.

To read more about this exercise or read other exercises, click here: [size=78%][/size]

Beginning Readers / Easy Short Stories
« on: March 16, 2020, 11:10:31 PM »
One way to engage beginner readers is to read lower level short stories. This is an easy to use site with beginner-level ESL short stories: What is great about this site is that there are different levels for different levels of readers, with a lot of short story options.

One way I might use this site in class is to assign a group of students different short stories to read and then act out for the rest of class. This might engage beginning readers to understand the text, to use vocabulary words aloud in the context, and because of the friendly and fun nature of the activity, hopefully students are motivated to do the reading and to understand it.

Beyond this site, there are plenty of lower-level beginner books that can serve as a replacement for this activity.

Adult Literacy / Learn with News!
« on: March 10, 2020, 10:40:20 PM »
This website, Learn with News ( was created for the purpose of teaching adult English literacy by reading current news stories. Every news story written has the option of different levels (Levels 1-3), with additional resources. Some the additional resources focus on difficult words, listening activities, synonym matching, true or false questions, unscrambling sentences, and conversation questions. The site also includes a page of answers (for the activities). This is a great resource to use when wanting to incorporate relevant, authentic content into the classroom (especially for older learners in high school or beyond).

I would probably use this with older learners, and use it as part of a daily (weekly?) exercise to keep students updated while practicing level-appropriate literacy skills, learning new vocabulary and having conversation about current events. One week, an instructor could also go more in depth into a certain article and have students write a journal response to something happening in the news.

The Hobbit stuff / Compare and Contrast with the Film
« on: February 19, 2020, 04:03:43 PM »
One way to get students to analyze a scene of the book in a unique way is by using the film. It might be interesting to play a clip from the film of a significant scene from the book/movie. Students could watch it in class, then could be assigned to write a reflection comparing the film to the movie. The teacher could pose two questions: 1) What is the same or different about the book to the movie interpretation? and 2) Why do you think some of these differences exist?

Students could be instructed to focus on some of the following aspects (to choose 1-2?):
  • Dialogue
  • Setting
  • Character portrayal
  • Tone/Mood
To extend this writing prompt, the teacher could ask some of the following questions:
3) Which presentation do you like better? Why?
4) If you could edit one of them, what would you do and why?

The questions could be altered according to age or context. For example, in a unit about tone, the focus could be on the tone. In a unit about descriptive writing, maybe the setting could be the focus. With age, the questions can differ and the length of the writing could differ according to the age. For younger ages, an additional creative portion could be added to the writing prompt, such as creating a comic version of the scene.

To read further about connecting the novel to the film, follow this link: [size=78%][/size]

Creative Writing / "Color-Coded"
« on: February 11, 2020, 08:02:18 PM »

This can be a warm up activity for a creative writing course (or unit). This can also be a warm up for descriptive writing. The teacher will assign a student a color. For example, "blue." The student can interpret the color however the student wishes. The student is instructed to create a scene, paragraph, setting, that gives off the feeling of "blue." For example, "blue" is usually described as the mood of sad, or calm. The student will interpret the color, then write a scene, paragraph or setting that indicates that color.

This activity can be expanded outside of colors -- for example, a teacher can give the students a word (for a vocabulary exercise). For example, the teacher can assign the students the word "benign" as a vocabulary word. This activity can then happen with the students constructing a scene, paragraph, or setting attempting to create the feeling of "benign."

Here, you can the source of this idea or read more details: [size=78%][/size]

The Hobbit stuff / Characterization graphic organizer
« on: February 04, 2020, 10:22:43 PM »

A big part of this novel is the characterization of different creatures. There is a worksheet/organizer which helps students to keep the characterization of different creatures straight. This might be useful especially for students in the middle grades. Students will also have practice with language describing the character and also using the text as evidence.

More information/details can be found on page 6 of this PDF:

The Hobbit stuff / A Bilbo Diary Entry
« on: February 04, 2020, 10:09:19 PM »

One writing activity I might do with The Hobbit with L2 learners or younger learners is posted on Teaching Ideas. This writing activity includes picking an event that Bilbo experiences in the book (it can be a key event, or even a smaller event). The focus is to use descriptive language to try and imagine how Bilbo felt and how the people around him might have felt.

To add on to this idea, I might create a class-wide assignment, where each person (group?) could be assigned a certain part of the novel to write from Bilbo's point of view. This would be a fun creative writing activity to do with a range of students (possibly middle grades to high school students). As a teacher, depending on the age, I might expect more complexity from the older students or more experienced students of an L2.

Depending on the age, expectations of quality and detail can differ. For example, for middle grade students of writing in an L2, I might focus on point of view or verb tenses (focusing on past tense?) Another aspect to grade could be quality of the descriptions of events. For older students or students of a higher level in the L2, I might expand and also emphasize using good vocabulary to describe Bilbo's thoughts, or also upon thoughtfulness of incorporating Bilbo's character development.

You can find more ideas from this site or get details here:

The Hobbit stuff / The Hobbit: medieval literature
« on: February 04, 2020, 09:58:35 PM »

This academic article discusses the context in which The Hobbit was written. This article analyzes certain motifs and characters in the novel and compares them to the genre and culture of medieval literature (specifically Beowulf). This might be a helpful resource to gain contextual knowledge in order to better understand certain elements or even stylistic choices of the author. This can give deeper insight into the book.

I might assign adult learners to read this article alongside the reading of The Hobbit, to learn about how books are created from/how books relate to the context of genre.

If you want to read the entire article, click here:

General Writing Resources / Brainstorming
« on: February 04, 2020, 04:31:10 PM »
Brainstorming about your topic is often one of the hardest steps in the writing process. One great activity I found that could apply well to persuasive writing specifically is from The Writing Center from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This activity idea would be part of the "brainstorming" part of the writing process. It helps students to formulate their ideas:

  • Cubing helps you look at your subject from six different points of view (like the 6 sides of a cube!)
  • Students should take their general topic or idea and write about it from 6 points of view: 1) describe it, 2) compare it, 3) associate it with something else you know, 4) analyze it (break it into parts), 5) apply it to a situation you are familiar with and 6) argue for or against it. (The Writing Center)
  • Students can write a paragraph, page, or more about each point in order to formulate thoughts and different angles about the topic.
This can be an in-class or a homework assignment. This assignment can be tweaked by also adjusting one of the points of view to be different. For example, I might change #6 to be "argue for and against it" in order to get students thinking about both sides of the argument.

If you want to see more ideas from this site, you can find some more here: [size=78%][/size]

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