English: Class blogging and Future Me letter writing

I am teaching TY English since the middle of November. In my school, TY is an academic year. Even if it was not, I hate when people say ‘Oh teaching TY is easy,  I do not have to do anything for them’. Why do these students deserve less of your time and attention than other years? I have a lovely group of students and we do a lot of work but yet we still have fun! 🙂

So far  I have taught the students poetry, short stories, debating, blogging, biography and book reviews. On Wednesdays we go to the computer room to blog. At the start of the year, I got all of my students to each set up their own blog on WordPress. Some of the students were apprehensive at first. However, they now all LOVE blogging!! Huge success! Blogging is terrific as it encourages the students to write, to enjoy writing and it improves their digital literacy skills.

Each week the students have two blogging assignments to complete.

I give all of the students a set blogging topic each week and then they must also come up with a blog topic themselves and write about it. The girls have really excelled at this. I love reading their unique topics every week! I give the students past Leaving Cert HL English exam paper Qs and also Qs I have made myself that are based on the Leaving Cert course. This is important as it will prepare them for next year. However, sometimes the students have random tasks such as ‘Why should people blog?’ and ‘Look up one Web 2.0 tool that you would like to see used in your school’.

Today I introduced the students to Future me.

Future Me is a website where you can write a message to your future self. How cool is that?! It is free and all you need is an email address. You simply type your message and then you pick a date to deliver the email. You can set it for tomorrow if you are not very daring or go all out and set it for 50 years time.You can set it for private or else public. If you select public then your letter will appear on their website.  You can add a photo of yourself if you wish. It is so simple to use.

I got the girls to brainstorm ideas first. Then we read some of the letters on the website for inspiration. All of the girls wrote a letter to themselves. For homework, I asked the girls to go home and pick one letter from the website that they found inspirational. The girls also had to write down three reasons why they found  inspirational. 


English novel activities


All of the activities below help to develop the 6 key skills for Junior Cycle. 

  1. Working with others

  2. Communicating

  3. Managing information and thinking

  4. Staying well

  5.  Managing myself

  6. Being creative 

 Novel activities


1.Family tree

2. Venn diagram- How is everyone connected in the story. 

3. Map- of all the places mentioned.

4. Write an acrostic poem based on each characters name. 

5. A storyboard of the novel. 

6. Use speech bubbles to imagine a conversation between 2 characters. 

7. Change the ending of the story.

8. Diary entries

9. Interview a character

10. Write 10 questions you would like to ask the author after reading the entire novel.

Technology: 11. Use the “In A World …. Drama” app to create a movie promo for a film based on the book.

Technology: 12. Create a Voki  and get the character to speak their thoughts at a certain point in the novel.

13. Draw the illustration for the front cover of the novel or else the billboard for the film version. 

Technology: 13. Tweet from one of the character’s perspectives. 

Technology: 14. Set up a Fakebook account for one of the character’s. 

15. Get a character to write a letter to a character from another novel that you have read.

16. Write a “What If ….” poem about an event that took place in the novel.

17. Write “3 Truths and a Lie” about a character in the novel and see if other pupils can guess which one was the lie.

18. Use the SMS Generator to create a text message conversation between two characters in the novel.


19. Draw an illustration of a description of the setting that is in the novel.


20. Design a news paper article about an incident in the novel. 


21.Use Wordle to summarise each chapter. 


22. Group work – Draw each character in the novel and write words around each character to describe their characteristics.


23. Create a radio ad for your book. Write out the script and tape record it as it would be presented. Don’t forget background music!


24. Create a wanted poster for a character in your novel.

25. I got first years to write a Private Peaceful 2 and then we acted out the best one in class. Therefore we did creative writing and drama from one task!
26. Write a formal letter to the author of your novel and explain how you feel about the book.
27. Create a newspaper for your book. Summarize the plot in one article, cover the weather in another, do a feature story on one of the more interesting characters in another. Include an editorial and a collection of ads that would be pertinent to the story. 
28. Pretend that you are going to join the characters in the story. What things will you need to pack? Think carefully, for you will be there for a week, and there is no going back home to get something!
29. Choose a job for one of the characters in the book and write letter of application.
30.  Write about one of the character’s life twenty years from now.
31. Write a Tinder advert for one of the characters.
32. Add another character to the book. Why would she/he be put there? What part would she/he serve?

Girl with a Pearl Earring resources  

I am currently reading Girl with a Pearl Earring with my Transition Year students. It are halfway through it at the moment. I have included some resources I have made. I will update this blog post in a few weeks with some more resources 🙂

We are also preparing for our TY spelling bee challenge next week.

As the students have not looked at the novel since before Easter, I will review what they have done in the novel so far by asking students to pick a scrambled piece of paper out of a bowl. Each scrambled piece of paper will feature a name/word that is related to the novel. The words will be Griet, Painter, Catholic, Frans, Blind, Sixteen years old, Seventeen years old, Catharina, Agnes, Tile painter, Papists’ corner, Griet’s chores as a maid, Tanneke, Cornelia, Papist’s corner, Griet’s chores, 1665, Van Ruijven, Sunday, Griet’s bed, Maria Thins, Maid.

I will walk around the classroom and I will ask each student to pick out a word from the bowl. When every student has a word, I will go around in sequence and ask each pupil to call out their word and to discuss their word in relation to the novel. I will ask the students to help each other.


 Click on these tabs below to download my worksheets.

Girl with a Pearl Earring-Letter from Johannes to Griet

Girl with a Pearl Earring- Gossip about Griet workshop

Girl with a Pearl Earring. Debate feel sorry-do not feel sorry for Griet.

 Group work- Coloured paper- Draw Griet with the cloth on her head. Discussion- How has she changed physically and metaphorically.

Group work: Coloured paper: Draw what you think the finished painting would look like.

Group work:  Rewrite the climax of the novel.

Class discussion- Why did Griet not beg Johannes not to ruin her?

Debating-Speeches-Oral Presentations


I love teaching  debating, speeches and oral presentations. It really prepares the students for the oral presentations and to write speeches for the functional writing section on paper 1 of the English Junior Cert. It helps the students to foster their creativity, confidence, vocabulary, grammar, communication skills, organisational skills and to think critically.

As my school is ASTI, I have not been able to go to any of the English Junior Cycle induction days.  However, I have self-taught myself using a range of websites. English in the Junior Cycle aims to expand a students’ knowledge of language and literature, deepen their literacy skills and make them more self-aware as learners, creativity and teach them to think critically. Debating, speeches and oral presentations help students to foster ‘control over English using it and responding to it with purpose and effect through the interconnected literacy skills of oral language, reading and writing’.

The six Key Skills of the Junior Cycle are evident in debating, speeches and oral presentations. You must be creative as debating demands you to think on your feet. Debating develops literacy as you are practicing oral presentations and you are using a solid vocabulary. You are being numerate as you are keeping track of time. You are communicating with others and also working with others as you must communicate with your team members to prepare a good argument and then debate against members of the opposition or by delivering a speech/oral presentation in front of your peers. ‘The English classroom is a place of talk and discussion. Students enjoy frequent opportunities to debate, to adopt a point of view and defend it. They learn to communicate by writing in a range of forms and for many purposes.’ [1] You are managing information and thinking as you must structure your argument.  You are staying well as you are communicating with others and by participating in an oral presentation, you are growing in confidence.

There are many activities you can do for these topics!

  1. Walking debate

Students no matter what age love this activity. Write ‘Strongly agree’, ‘Agree’, ‘Strongly disagree’ and ‘Disagree’ on different sheets of paper. Stick the sheets of paper on different sides of the room.  Get all the students to stand up. Now call out statements and tell the students to go and stand beside the poster that portrays their view.  Give the students a minute to decide where they are going. Once the students are in front of their chosen statement. Ask a number of students why they have picked that statement.

  1. Traffic light debate

This works the same as the walking debate above except you must put the colours red, green and orange on different walls in the classroom.  You must explain to the students that green means agree, orange means neutral and red means disagree. Like the walking debate, you call out statements and the students stand beside the colour which matches their opinion.

  1. Statements

You write a statement on the whiteboard and then you ask the students to agree or disagree with this statement and to write down 5 reasons to back up their point. This is a really good exercise as it helps the students to develop opinions and also to develop reasons thus meaning they fully understand why they agree or why they do not agree with a given statement. It is a great starter exercise to prepare the students for debating.

  1. Class debating



Make two groups of 4 students each. Pick  a chairperson, three adjudicators and one timekeeper.  The rest of the class will be the audience. Rotate this daily so each student gets a turn. Write a statement on the whiteboard such as ‘Should all schools be single sex?’. Tell each group to decide who in their group is going to go:

1st– Introduction

2nd- Middle

3rd. Middle


Each speaker in the group will speak for 2 minutes each which means that each group will speak for 8 minutes.

The adjudicator will control the meeting. The timekeeper will time the students. They must make the students aware of the first 30 minutes and the last 30 seconds.



  1. School debating competition

You can either invite other schools to come into your school and thus have a debating competition with one school or many schools. Get the students to help you organise it, this will improve their communication and organisational skills.

6. Speeches


Tell the students that each of them must write a speech and present it in front of the class. Topics can be

  • ‘Imagine you are the new principal of your school, write your first speech welcoming everyone and outlining what your leadership will be like.
  • ‘Imagine you are the running for class president, write a speech outlining what you will implement if you win.
  • ‘Imagine you are a second year student who has been chosen to give advice to 1styear pupils about how to survive 1st Write the speech you would give the first years.
  • ‘Imagine you are setting up a new extracurricular activity in school. Write the speech you would give to the students in your school to encourage them to join’.
  • ‘You want a half day on Wednesdays at school, write the speech you would give to encourage your principal to implement this change’.
  • ‘We should be allowed wear whatever we want.’ (Caityn Jenner and the transgender community are topical news stories).

  • ‘The importance of school uniforms for equality’.




  1. Grammar 



Split the students into groups and give each group an envelope of statements. In each envelope there will be 15 statements.  I will give each group 2 boxes. The 1stbox will say ‘Debating statements’ and the second box will say ‘Grammar errors’.

The students must work together in their group and decide what box each statement goes in. This is a really good activity to test the students’ grammar. Some of the statements will feature slang as I want the students to learn that they must not use slang. The Junior Cycle aims ‘to gain an understanding of the grammar and conventions of English and how they might be used to promote clear and effective communication’.





8. Oral presentations

Do this one day a week so the students will have a routine. For example every Friday. Each week give the students a topic to research, write about and then present in front of their class. Sample topics are my favourite animal, my favourite hobby, an inspirational person, a book review, a film review, a music album review, my favourite singer, my favourite band, my favourite sports team, my favourite celebrity, a great charity, a news story from a newspaper, why it is good to live in Ireland, what it means to be Irish, a student presents on country of their choice, its culture and literature and the stereotypes we need to cast off to truly understand the country, the students conduct interviews on others, the benefits of using technology in education and the student writes their own poem and presents it to the class.


9. Unseen pictures

Split the students into groups. Using unseen pictures, each group will argue a point. Each group must use each picture, thinking of a way it can support their argument.

[1] file:///C:/Users/lisa-_000/Downloads/JCEnglish-Spec_Oct-4_2015-(1)_2.pdf





Debating power point Introduction- Debating power point 1

Debating power point 2Debating power point two

Agree/Disagree/Strongly Agree/Strongly Disagree statements for walking debateAgree disagree strongly agree strongly disagree statements for walls

Debating worksheet– Debating for or against template

Debating topics handoutDebating topics

Debating motions handout- Motions

Ship debate handout– Ship Debate

Speech tips handoutsSPEECHES tips

Scoring sheet for a debateDebate scoring sheet

Speech planning sheet-Planning Sheet for speeches

Persuasive speech worksheetPlanning Speech Persuasive Speeches

Biography power pointWriting a Biography power point.

Glossary handout for inspirational person oral presentation- Glossary for inspirational person oral presentation.

Differences between a autobiography and biography handout- Differences between a biography and an autobiography.

Biography sheet for inspirational person oral presentationInspirational person handout

Biography features handout for oral presentation- Features of biography.

Biography template for oral presentation- Biography template

Roald Dahl oral presentation example– A Biography of Roald Dahl

Book review oral presentationBook review

Film review for oral presentationWriting_a_Film_Review


Modern day Shakespeare 

shakespeare picture

William Shakespeare still today has a significance in our lives. We say things and we do not know that some of sentences originated from Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote 1/10 of the most quoted lines ever written or spoken in English!

The idea of tackling Shakespeare in school has sometimes sent chills down both students’ and teachers’ spines, but the truth is that studying Shakespeare does not have to be so scary/daunting. His plays and sonnets are filled with themes that are relevant still to this day. Most importantly, Shakespeare knew how to tell a good story.

shakespeare statistics

Shakespeare invented many words! 3,000 in fact!

willliam s

Even words that our students think were only invented lately like ‘twerk’ and ‘swagger’.



Young people today love using quotes to describe their daily lives! Many of them do not realise that the quotes they are using are by Shakespeare.

a fool



go slowly

love me


It is important to show the students this so they can relate to Shakespeare!


Tasks to use in the classroom

Here is a Shakespeare’s original version and a modern version from the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

Original- Juliet: Thou know’st the mask of night is on my face, Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek For that which thou hast heard me speak to-night Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny What I have spoke: but farewell compliment! Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say ‘Ay,’ And I will take thy word: yet if thou swear’st, Thou mayst prove false; at lovers’ perjuries Then say, Jove* laughs. O gentle Romeo, If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully: Or if thou think’st I am too quickly won, I’ll frown and be perverse an say thee nay, So thou wilt woo; but else, not for the world. In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond.
A modern equivalent Juliet: Because it’s dark, you can’t see my face. Otherwise you’d see me blushing About what you’ve heard me say tonight. I would willingly stay polite and deny  What I have said. But forget about being polite, Do you love me? I know you will say yes.
And I will believe you. But if you promise you love me, You might actually be lying. They say God laughs  When lovers lie to each other. Oh gentle Romeo, If you do love me, say it truly. Or if you think it’s too quick and easy to get me to love you, I’ll frown and play hard to get and say no to you So you’ll try harder to win me. But otherwise, I wouldn’t act that way for anything. To tell you the truth, handsome Montague, I’m too keen on you.

As a task, you could put the students in to groups and get each group to rewrite in modern language certain parts of the play.

Another task- Shakespearean vocabulary 

Work in pairs to match the Shakespearean vocabulary (1-15) with the modern day equivalents (a-o).
Shakespearean Modern day
1. Fain
2. Farewell
3. Nay
4. Oft
5. Woo
6. Lest
7. Wherefore
8. Methinks
9. Pronounce
10. Ay
11. Swear
12. Twas
13. Perjury
14. Else
15. Prithee
a. Say
b. Yes
c. Otherwise
d. Promise
e. Telling a lie
f. For fear that, in case
g. Flirt or romance
h. Why
i. Goodbye
j. Often
k. I think
l. Willingly
m. No
n. Please
o. It was

Another task could be:

Look at these famous quotes from Shakespeare.

What are the modern-day equivalents of the underlined words?

1. ‘The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.’  As You Like It
2. ‘This above all: to thine own self be true,  And it must follow, as the night the day,  Thou canst not then be false to any man.’ Hamlet
3. ‘Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.’ Hamlet
4. ‘Many a true word hath been spoken in jest*.’ King Lear

Once the task is complete, start a discussion with the students about the quotes!

Talking like Shakespeare task.
With a partner, write a short dialogue using as many of the Shakespearean words in as you can, and Shakespearean grammar. Then read your dialogue aloud to the class.


Shakespeare Resources

Shakespeare Online
A wide range of information about Shakespeare and his works.

Images of Shakespeare’s life.

These black and white images show the house where Shakespeare was born, the writing on his tombstone, and more.

Absolute Shakespeare
An essential resource for William Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets, poems, quotes, biography and the legendary Globe Theatre .

Elizabethan dress

Learn about Elizabethan dress on this website that even includes some patterns to make your own!!

Poetry magnetic tiles

This is a really cool tool works like magnetic poetry tiles. Select how many Shakespearean words you want, then receive that many random tiles that you can arrange however you like to create your own Shakespearean poetry.

Folger Shakespeare Library Online Resources for Teachers
This site has lesson plans and resources for teaching Shakespeare. You can sign up for a newsletter, find links to videos, and much more from this site that makes teaching Shakespeare easier!

Shakespeare dictionary

This is a brilliant dictionary that provides definitions for words that are no longer used or have changed in meaning  for example ‘power’ and it also offers insight into the symbolism of words that modern readers might not recognize.

Shake Speare 

This guide offers a lot! It has personal information about Shakespeare to plots of all his plays to a handy list of glossaries.

No Fear Shakespeare

This resource is from Spark Notes. It puts two pages side by side: one with Shakespeare’s language and one with modern language.

Open Source Shakespeare

You read Shakespeare’s works here, or you can use the concordance to learn about specific words and get statistics.

Understanding Shakespeare

This site offers translations of some of the most common Shakespearean words.

Phrase used by Shakespeare

This site allows us to find out what common phrases were probably first used by Shakespeare.

Teachers guide to Shakespeare

This guide tips and advice for teaching any Shakespeare drama.


You can listen to 8 of Shakespeare plays and 4 sonnets here.

Video clips

This site contains a variety of  videos clips .


How well do you know Shakespeare quizzes?

Shakespeare quotations quiz

Shakespeare general quiz












Book review of a classic novel

I love this image! The staircase has the names of classic novels. Recently with my TY class I instructed them all to pick one classic novel to read and then write a book report about their chosen classic. I gave the students a hand out for this task. The students must answer all the questions on the hand  out in order to write the book report. I set the students a deadline for this task. I have gotten the name of each student’s chosen novel. I cannot wait to read their book report in a few weeks! 🙂

Here is the book report hand out: Book review



Poetry- ‘Tich Miller’ by Wendy Cope.

This is a great poem! Pupils always love this poem as it is relevant to their lives. It is a poem about a young girl named Tich  Miller who gets builled. Tich does not fit in as she has some form of disability.

I have not written a lesson plan in this post as my power point is pretty self explanatory. It has notes and activities.

Click here for my power point:  tich_miller_power_point (4)

Some assessment activities included are:

Write a conversation between Tich and Tubby. This conversation could take place in the changing rooms after games.

In groups – Use speech bubbles -choose lines from the poem which reflect the different voices.
The phrase or line which reflects the dominant voice should be written in the biggest speech bubble, and the other voices in the others depending on their significance.

Look up 5 words in a dictionary.

Prepare an interview with the speaker of the poem, ten years later. Ask her to discuss her school life and what she is doing now.

Write a newspaper article about the death of Tich Miller.

Questions about the poem/fll in the blanks.

Tich Miller

 Tich Miller wore glasses

with elastoplast-pink frames

and had one foot three sizes larger than the other.

When they picked teams for outdoor games

she and I were always the last two

left standing by the wire-mesh fence.

We avoided one another’s eyes,

stooping, perhaps, to re-tie a shoelace,

or affecting interest in the flight

of some fortunate bird, and pretended

not to hear the urgent conference:

‘Have Tubby!’  ‘No, no, have Tich!’

Usually they chose me, the lesser dud,

and she lolloped, unselected,

to the back of the other team.

At eleven we went to different schools.

In time I learned to get my own back,

sneering at hockey-players who couldn’t spell.

Tich died when she was twelve.

by Wendy Cope

My analysis of the poem

This poem deals with the cruelty of schoolchildren and the way in which young people can feel isolated from their peers. The opening lines of the poem introduce Tich immediately to us.  The use of her name, as opposed to simply calling her ‘A girl in my class’ makes us feel connected with the subject of the poem and brings a note of reality to the topic.  We know the girl’s name, and this brings her to life for us, in a way.  She is not just a statistic or an anonymous sufferer of bullying or isolation: she is a real girl.  Tich is described as wearing glasses in a sickly colour of pink: the colour of elastoplast.  There is nothing attractive about this image and we may well wonder at this stage about the poet’s intentions.  Is she setting out to mock Tich?  She is not, although Tich’s peers in the poem do.  Tich’s unfortunate appearance is conveyed again in the third line when we learn that one of her feet was three sizes larger than the other.  There is something almost humorous about this image, but not quite.  The poet’s language is simple and we are faced with a young girl who is almost clownish, but whose situation arouses our sympathy rather than our laughter.  The simplicity of the language throughout the poem conveys the simplicity of the language and thought process of young children, while also forcing us to face the issues being dealt with.  It is very thought provoking. There is no flowery language, no euphemisms to hide the harsh reality.

In the second stanza, the poet relates herself to Tich.  When it came time to choose team members for games, the poet and Tich were always left until last.  The mention of the ‘wire-mesh fence’ makes us think of prison, or a cage.  The pair are trapped in their bodies and trapped in their shared plight.  They cannot escape the embarrassment which befalls them week in, week out.  The use of the word ‘always’ suggests that this humiliation was a very common occurrence. Perhaps it happened weekly in P.E class. Although Tich and the poet were united in their distress, they were not closer because of it. They avoided making eye-contact with one another and pretended to tie a shoelace which did not need to be re-tied rather than talk to one another.  Perhaps they wanted to avoid facing the fact that they were both rejected by their classmates, or perhaps they did not want to be seen to be connected in any way/have any similarities.  The poet says that another avoidance tactic was to pretend to be interested in the flight of a bird overhead.  The bird is described as ‘fortunate’.  It can fly away; it can escape any tormentors.  The girls cannot.  Also, the bird is graceful and elegant, unlike Tich and the poet who are both awkward.  By looking at the bird, they can also fool themselves and others into believing that they can’t hear the ‘urgent conference’ of the other girls deciding which of the pair is the lesser of two evils.  Neither is wanted, but one must be chosen.  We learn for the first time that the poet was a fat child: the others call her ‘Tubby’.  Nobody seems to want either and they argue amongst themselves, within earshot of the rejected girls.

The poet tells us that ‘usually’ she was chosen: not because she was wanted, but because she was not quite as bad as Tich.   The word ‘usually’ again reinforces the idea that this humiliation was very common during the girls’ early school days.   Tich, being the last one left, had no choice but to ‘lollop’ to the back of the other team, even though they had not selected her.  She had to join their team simply because no-one chose her. The onomatopoeic word ‘lolloped’ suggests Tich’s graceless way of moving.  Again, it might be humorous in another context, but it is not here.  We can visualise her slow progress to the back of the group all too clearly and imagine the tortuous slowness of her gait and her awkward run.

For the poet, things changed.  She moved on to a different secondary school and she learned to use her academic ability to get her own revenge on the sporty types who had sneered/builled at her in earlier days.  It is interesting to note that the poet found a different way to bully, but did not learn that mockery is cruel and should be avoided.  Like so many people who are picked on, she found her own way to do that to others.

At this point in the poem, there is a complete stop and a break before the last line, which stands alone.  This adds dramatic effect and makes us really concentrate on what is about to be said.  What follows is a simple one line 6 word statement.  ‘Tich died when she was twelve.’  There is no comment on simple sentence. There is no judgement either but we are saddened by the fact that although the poet found her own way to cope, sadly Tich never did.  Her very short life ended without her ever managing to be respected or liked by the other girls. She never made any friends.  Just as Tich could not avoid her fate, we cannot avoid the tragedy of this sad ending.  There is no attempt to soften the blow or to explain what happened.  The last line is very important. The fact that the last line stands alone symbolises Tich’s standing alone, unwanted and unselected to the end of her brief, lonely life.


  1. School
  2. Youth
  3. Bullying
  4. The misery of being left out and alienated at school.
  5. The cruelty of schoolchildren.
  6. Embarrassment/Humiliated –The girls are embarrassed they are picked last.

Repetition: Repetition is used to good effect in the poem too: the use of the word ”always” suggests that this ritual humiliation was a common occurrence. The poet uses Repetition in the poem. “No, no, have Tich!” The poet uses repetition in the poem to show the reader that Tich was bullied harshly in school. It is used to emphasis this point as alliteration is doing in the above paragraph. This is effective because it creates a sad atmosphere in the poem.

Onomatopoeia:  Tich, being the last one left, had no choice but to ”lollop” to the back of the other team, even though they had not selected her.   The onomatopoeic word ”lolloped” suggests Tich’s graceless way of moving.  Again, it might be humorous in another context, but it is not here.  We can visualise her slow progress to the back of the group all too clearly. It does not require a lot of imagination to picture the expressions on the other girls’ faces as they watched her awkward run.

Tone: The opening lines introduce Tich immediately.  The tone of the poem is conversational and matter-of fact The use of Tich’s name, as opposed to simply calling her ”A girl in my class” makes us feel connected with the subject of the poem and brings a note of reality to the topic.  We know the girl’s name, and this brings her to life for us, in a way.  She is not just a statistic or an anonymous sufferer of bullying or isolation: she is a real girl.

Another tone of the poem is sadness, which is illustrated in the two last stanzas. The tone is sadness because the girl telling the story eventually went on to bully others, getting revenge on those who had bullied her while Tich died when she was twelve. She could have died from different causes but it somewhat implies that she had committed suicide. “At eleven we went to different schools. In time I learned to get my own back, sneering at hockey-players who couldn’t spell.” “Tich died when she was twelve.” The fact the poet wrote the poem shows that she cared about Tich. They are united in their distress but they are not close.

images (25) tich miller

Introduction to short stories

This is a basic lesson that I made to teach the features of short stories. The students must learn and understand the features before they start reading a short story/novel. As I was in an all girls school, I used the plot diagram example of Cinderella.
Remember it is important to tailor your lesson to your students. Picking something relevant to them will deepen their understanding of the topic.


In every English lesson, it is VERY important to incorporate a balanced mix of the four language skills:

  1. Reading

  2. Writing

  3. Listening

  4. Speaking 

Learning outcomes:

  1. The pupils will be able to display their knowledge already of short stories.
  2. The students will be able to convey their understanding of a Youtube video about short stories.
  3. The students will be able to show their knowledge and understanding of the elements of short stories

Assessment of learning outcomes:

  1. The pupils display their knowledge already of short stories by filling out a mind map and participating in a class discussion.
  2. The students will convey their understanding of a Youtube video about short stories by completing a worksheet.
  3. The students will show their knowledge and understanding of the elements of short stories by answering higher and lower order questions.

You can access the power point by clicking here: Introduction to short stories. lesson plan 1. week 1. I used this lesson in another school which did not have power point so I made a handout instead. It went really well so either way works well as long you interact with the class!

Phase 1: Introduction 

I will introduce the lesson topic of short stories to the class. I will state my learning outcomes for the class on slide two of the power point.

On slide three of the power point, I will ask the pupils ‘Do you know what a short story is?’.

I will then put the students into groups and I will ask the pupils ‘What can you tell me about short stories?’ by filling out a mind map on a handout.

I will tell the groups of four to divide jobs between their group members. The jobs will be time keeper, writer and two speakers. I will give the students four minutes for this task. I will then ask the groups for their answers and I will discuss the groups answers with the class.

Phase 2: Power point 

I will show the students a power point on the main concepts of short stories.

Tip: Get your students to read the slides off the power point.

On slide three and four of the powerpoint, I will show the students that a good story must have the right ingredients.

On slide five and six and seven, I will introduce the students to elements of a short story.

On slide eight, I will show the students an example of these elements in use in the short story of ‘Cinderella’.

On slide nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen I will talk to the students about theme, setting, characters, characterization, point of view, plot and types of conflict.

On slides sixteen and seventeen, I will show the students images of the plot diagram to deepen their understanding.

Phase 3: H and L order questions

I will ask the students higher and lower order questions about the content of the power point. It is important not to use worksheets all the time throughout your lessons. Incorporate higher and lower order questioning into all of your lessons alongside worksheets. Assessment for learning throughout your lessons is very important! 

Lower order questions

What are the five elements of a short story?

What is the theme?

What is the setting?

What are characters?

What does characterization mean?

What is the plot?

Can you name some common conflicts in short stories?

What does point of view mean?

Higher order questions

Do you think there are any other elements of a short story?

What element do you think is missing?

Can you name the theme of another short story?

How would you describe the characters in the short story you have read?

Phase 4: Video clip and worksheet – Elements of a short story example- ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas’ by Dr. Seuss.  

I will give the pupils a handout with pre questions. The pre questions will ask the students questions about the Youtube video that I will show them. I will ask the students to read the pre questions. The students will get one minute for this task. I will then show the pupils a Youtube video on the six elements of short stories using the example of ‘The Grinch’.

The worksheet will ask the students:

  1. How does the video clip describe character?
  2. What is the example the video clip gives for setting?
  3. What does point of view mean?
  4. What does plot mean?
  5. What is the conflict in ‘The Grinch’?
  6. Theme is the message of the story, what is the message of ‘the Grinch’?
  7. Name the six elements of short stories in this video clip?
  8. _____________
  9. _____________
  10. _____________
  11. ______________
  12. ______________
  13. ______________

After the video is over, I will give the pupils one minute to go over their answers. I will then ask a number of students for their answers. I will discuss the students’ answers with the class.

Video clip

‘How the Grinch stole Christmas: Elements of a short story’.

I used this video clip on the 5th of January so the theme of Christmas suited.

I will attach the worksheet for the video clip here: short story video clip worksheet. lesson 1. week 1.

Here is another video clip that can be used in this lesson.

Homework worksheet

short story video clip worksheet. lesson 1. week 1. worksheet

book elements-of-a-story duck TMP_plotdiagram_large

images (24) cinderlla