Present/Past Simple practice with Rihanna and Shakespeare – teaching grammar creatively (Part 2)
In my last article, I provided you with one idea how to combine teaching grammar and making use of literature and art. This time, I would like to present a lesson plan for the class in which you are helped by the photos and pictures to teach Present and Past Simple. I hope you will enjoy it and find out how much imagination you and your students have!
Age: Teenagers and adults
Time: 45 minutes
Objectives: To practise/revise Present Simple and Past Simple – positive statements.
Key skills: Speaking/Writing
Materials: Photos/pictures of a teacher’s choice, a worksheet with sentences to complete.
Preparation: Teacher should prepare the pictures/photos of two people (can be cut out from a magazine). One person should be alive and might be known to students (for example for teenage learners it can be Rihanna) and the second person should no longer live (for instance Shakespeare). Beforehand, prepare as well the pictures which would help your students talk about typical days in the lives of the people chosen by you (in Rihanna’s case these might be photos of her concert, TV interview etc.)
- Show the photo of the first person to students and ask who it is. If they know the person, they will shout his/her name very quickly, if not, let them guess who it might be. After a few guesses, tell them the character’s name and his/her job. Write the following question on the board: What does his/her typical day look like? First try to elicit responses from the students without the help of your pictures. If they run out of ideas, show students the photos to get some more answers. Make sure pupils use the correct grammatical form (“s” for the 3rd person singular in Present Simple).
- When you think there are enough ideas provided, try to get your students to organize them into a typical day of the person you talk about, from morning until evening. Do it orally, nobody is supposed to write anything at this stage. If there are some more difficult words or phrases that are needed to describe the day, write them on the board. Also, stick the photo of the first person plus accompanying pictures on the board so that everyone can see them.
- Follow the same procedure with the second photo. This time you should concentrate on the correct usage of Past Simple (past forms with –ed ending or irregular). Again put all of the pictures on the board and get students to work in pairs. In their pairs, they should select a person (either the first or the second one) and write about their typical days using Present Simple or Past Simple depending on their choice. They should be allowed to use dictionaries and make use of the photos and phrases you have put on the board. Give them a limited amount of time and the number of sentences to write. Monitor them helping with the vocabulary and other things if necessary.
- When time is up, have a few pairs read their descriptions to the class. They can’t say which person they have written about and their friends should guess the names by listening to the descriptions carefully. You can take home a few more works to check.Possible homework might be filling in the sentences with the verbs in the correct forms to consolidate the material (worksheet).
Comments: The class is aimed at students who feel quite comfortable with speaking as there is a lot of talking throughout the lesson. Its focus is on putting the grammar into practice, students should already have a good theoretical command of Present Simple and Past Simple having done some written exercises before. Writing activity is made easier but also more interactive by putting students in pairs.
Try to use the characters who might appeal to your students and who can contrast each other (for instance Rihanna and Shakespeare). Let the students be creative, the more crazy ideas they come up with, the better. And remember to have fun with your students!
The alternative version
If your students do not feel good enough at in-class writing or they have never done it before, reverse the order: let them complete the sentences in the worksheet in the lesson and set the writing part as their homework. This way, they can do writing at their own pace at home.