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Topics - Matthew

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Attached is a unit on creating a generic resume.

Organization / Cohesion in Writing
« on: March 30, 2017, 01:20:14 PM »
The following ideas on presenting Cohesion would work best if they are preceded with a few lessons on coherence. Introduce the topic by having students compare two paragraphs and explain which one they think is more cohesive and why. The instructor then explains why and introduces the variety of cohesive devices that students can use in their own writing (e.g., transitions, pronouns, demonstratives, synonyms, etc.). To practice these devices, you can use a story strip activity. Divide the class into small groups, number them off, and give each group a strip of paper with a sentence or two. Have each group write down 2-3 additional sentences bearing in mind the cohesive devices they've just learned. After they finish, have the groups rotate their stories among themselves. For instance, group 1 passes to group 2, group 2 to group 3, etc. Each time they pass the new group writes 2-3 more sentences, all the while making sure the entire story is cohesive. The activity ends when the original groups end up with their starting sentence strip. Have some of the groups share their stories and ascertain as a class whether the story is cohesive.

Instructions / Writing a Resume
« on: March 30, 2017, 01:10:41 PM »
A unit spent on this topic would be best aimed towards ELLs who will soon be entering the workforce. In it, you will want to teach students about the core components of a good resume: contact info, summary, education, and work experience, as well as some optional features based on the job being sought. Time should be devoted to analyzing good/bad example resumes and students creating their own. As a way to inform students of the various resume services provided on campuses/online, the instructor could have his/her students use a resume editing service on campus or online to review their resume. The instructor would look over their revisions and see how the students incorporate them into their final drafts. Also, have the students explain why they chose which revisions to include and which ones to leave out as a way to explore their thinking process/activate metacognition.

Descriptive Writing / The Hobbit: Descriptive Prediction Activity
« on: March 30, 2017, 12:55:05 PM »
Early on in The Hobbit students will encounter "The Lonely Mountain." After they come across this bit of geography in the reading, have them predict/describe why they think that mountain is called what it is called. As they continue reading and learning more about the Lonely Mountain, have them compare their initial predictions/descriptions with what they currently know. This is a useful exercise because, especially within fantasy genres, place names are more often than not chosen for very specific purposes. This activity could fit well within a unit/curriculum devoted to the exploration of fantasy as a genre.

Creative Writing / Using Scattergories for Short Story Creation
« on: March 30, 2017, 12:26:51 PM »
This idea is a spin-off of using story cubes to write brief narratives. The students will play the game Scattergories, so the instructor would need to explain the rules beforehand. Have the students play the game and then divide them into small groups. In groups, they will create a story using the answers they came up with during the game. Hopefully, being in groups will stave off the disadvantage of any one student being unable to come up with answers. If time allows, you could play a second time and once the students finish the game have them give their original story to another group. Then, the groups will continue the story they were just handed using the answers they got from the second round of Scattergories. Have a couple groups share their completed stories near the end of class.

Extensive Reading / The Hobbit: A Card Game
« on: March 30, 2017, 12:14:40 PM »
This concept would take place over an entire semester, if not a year. The goal would be for students to read The Hobbit and at the end produce "character cards" and battle each other with them. In order to prepare for this final project, the whole of the semester (if that's the timeframe you have) should have the students doing character analyses. They could keep logs on each character which: describe them physically, illustrate their personality, and other traits that the students imagine those characters have. Throughout the semester, the instructor should have group discussions on the defining traits of each character, always bearing in mind the final project. This would also be an excellent opportunity to teach some genre-specific vocabulary. Fantasy genres often utilize similar themes and vocabulary and the instructor should capitalize on this. Then, maybe about one month before the end of the semester, the instructor should set up an online collaborative workplace where the students can begin designing the character cards. The instructor could also show/play with the "Lord of the Rings Top Trumps" card game, which could give the students some background/inspiration as to what the final project will look like. As a class, the final descriptions/abilities of all the included characters would be decided on and the students would then create the cards. At the end of the semester, the students would battle each other with the cards.

Instructions / ESP: Writing a Chemistry Lab Report
« on: March 30, 2017, 11:53:48 AM »
The setting for this activity/lesson is an ESP which teaches English for chemistry majors and/or people pursuing careers in that field (could be MA's, PhD's, post-docs, etc.). The objective of the activity is to have students write a complete lab report in the appropriate style. Beforehand, the students should have had plenty of practice reading lab reports to familiarize themselves with the style, especially that they are written in 3rd person and passive voice. After having done all this preparatory work, the instructor would find a description of a common chemical experiment complete with the list of chemicals, quantities, etc. and have the students write a lab report. This would be an open-ended activity in that the students get to decide what the procedure, results, discussion, and conclusion of the experiment would be. The main goal is for them to write the lab report in the appropriate style. Also, since the experiment chosen by the instructor is a common one, he/she should be able to easily determine the accuracy of the students' lab reports.

For those teaching in a context where British English is not the medium of instruction, it is apparent that the writing/speech styles in Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone are different compared to those you may encounter in a context using North American English (NAE). In short, this activity will have students analyze the way characters speak. Having had the students read the first chapter of the first book, the teacher can demonstrate the peculiarity of the speech styles using Hagrid as an example. Then, have the students write a brief essay (short paragraph) as if they were Hagrid. They should mimic the spelling patterns found in his speech and try to imitate him in general. This activity would not stand alone, but would most likely be part of a unit or a larger lesson.

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