Teaching writing skills using popular films

I have just started teaching a revision course for the L1 Functional Skills writing exam. After spending most of last week’s session boring the students to death with a pile of worksheets I promised the students that I’d make this lesson more appealing.

The sessions was based around the topic of planning skills and as I’d heard about a constantly successful lesson based on film trailers which had been really well received by the students I decided to adapt the idea for my session. From previous encounters with the students I knew that they all enjoyed watching films so I decided to base the lesson around planning a film review.

A week early, the first group that I taught this session with, had completed a free writing exercise with their normal tutor based on  the film Hancock so I decided to build upon this activity and based my session around the same film.

The warmer was an A-Z Quiz that I’d found on Skills Workshop. In order to prevent copying and to promote individual thinking skills I split the class into pairs, giving one student having a worksheet based on the A-Z on famous people and the other student the A-Z of film names. To add a bit of friendly competition I gave a prize for the first student to complete their sheet.

I introduced the lesson by talking about the planning process and why it was it’s such an important stage of the writing process.

After discussing planning strategies the class then went on to complete a card match activity looking at the stages of writing and describing each process.

We then discussed the activity of writing a film review. To support the class with their writing we began by refreshing our memories about the film by watching the film trailer.

After this had finished I then had a number of large sheets with the headings for the film review:

The main story lines are?

The best bit is?

I enjoyed watching this film because?

I would recommend this film because?

I explained to the class that we were going to generate ideas as a group to help them complete their individual film review. Each pair was then given one of the headed sheets and began writing their ideas on post it notes and then sticking them to it. The afternoon group wanted to work as a production line so they each wrote a few sticky notes and placed them on to their sheet, they then passed it down the line and continued adding notes to the next sheet and so on until they ran out of ideas.

Once the sheets were complete we discussed the answers as a class and then placed on to tables at the side so they could be referred to it if the students developed writers block whilst completing their film review.

The students then completed the individual film reviews and presented them as a class (there was only time for this with the second group)

In the second group all of the students hadn’t watched Hancock so we based the exercise on the Men in Black instead.

Planning your Writing PPT

Alphabet Quizzes

Writing Process

Film Review

Five Card Flickr

Recently, whilst catching up with the recent lesson ideas from my Personal Learning Network (PLN), I came across a link for Five Card Flickr. Flickr is photo sharing website that allows users to share their photos with the world. As I’m nosey and love looking at other people’s pictures I was intrigued by the name of this new teaching tool and it’s possible links with Flickr. I decided to see what was lying behind the web address and  clicked on the link.I’m really glad that I did as the link took me to an extremely useful and creative teaching resource suitable for language lessons.

Five Card Flicker is a photo story generator that presents the user with five random pictures every time the Five Card Flickr button is pressed.

Random Generator

Below are a few examples that the random generator has produced:

The resource could be used as a starting point for:

  • Creating stories

Mr Grizzly loved to spend his free time sailing on the ocean waves. However, one day whilst sitting on a bench in a beautiful, little park he read a sign warning people about pollution in the local river. Mr Grizzly cared an awful lot about the local environment so he immediately returned to his boat, took out his laptop, and started an internet campaign searching for volunteers to help him clean up the river.

  • As a starting point for a discussion

Do young people spend too much time on their computers rather than playing outdoors?

Do people spend more time socialising outside of the house or via the internet?

When was the last time that you went to the seaside?

How do you spend your spare time?

What are the differences/similarities to how people communicate via the telephone compared to the internet?

  • Vocabulary Generators

How many words can you think of to do with hobbies?

Story Gallery

There is also a gallery feature which contains thousand of Five Card Flickr stories that have already been written like Mr Bear in the Museum.

Mr Bear in the Museum

Mr Bear in the Museum

Itzel’s Story

Mr. Bear was boring and little sad. He was walking in little path in the woods. He said, “I want to go to the museum”.
When he was walking saw somenthing and said, “It looks like a ladybug, but i don’t what it is. Maybe is a dirty leaf”. He walk to the thing and saw that is a leaf.
He walk into de museum.he looks statues and said, “this is the most beautiful in the museum.It looks like a deer or somethig like that.”
Mr. Bear visited the garden in the museum.He saw a beautiful and coloring flowers.Mr. Bear saw a most pretty flower in the garden and said, “It is my favorite color white”.
He went to his house and looked de museum outside. He was thinking about his visited to the museum. He was very happy.

Lesson ideas for using the ready-made stories include:

  • Show your students the photographs first and encourage them to write their own story. Once this is complete show them the original story to your students and encourage them to discuss the similarities and differences.
  • Use the story as a proofreading resource with your students checking for mistakes with the spelling and grammar.
  • Some of the stories are written in languages other than English. You could use stories that are written in the student’s mother tongue as a translation exercise where the student translate the story into English and then presents it to the rest of the class.

Feliz Mimo

Fabio Roberts Story

Monto mi dinosaurio. Mi dinosaurio muere. Yo tengo muy triste.Voy a asesoramiento.Yo compro el autobus. Yo llego a la asesoramiento. Tengo muy feliz. Soy feliz mimo.