Cause & Effect and Write Another Life

Prezi used for my presentations. A couple of visuals I use for lessons are included.

Here are the lesson plans (Cause & Effect & Biographical Narrative) I like posting less detailed lesson plans, but right now I’m too busy to retype these two. 

Cause & Effect Lesson 

Part One: Talking About Ourselves & Friends

Lesson is based on “Up & Down” (Meddings & Thornbury, 2011, p 40).

Let the class know that we are continuing our unit on cause and effect essays.

Tell the class we are going to talk about the feelings or emotions each of us experienced last weekend. The class will generate the language as I note it down on the board, then we will expand on the emergent language.

I graph how I felt over the weekend on the board.

I talk to the class about how I felt over the weekend while inviting and answering questions.

While talking about how I was feeling over the weekend, I focus on the causes and effects of my mood.

Students chart their moods over the weekend.

In groups the students talk about their moods over the weekend using their graphs as a visual.

Students write a paragraph on the causes and effects of how one of their classmates was feeling over the weekend.

Share and discuss some of the paragraphs.

I will take notes on emergent language while students are sharing their paragraphs. After students are finished sharing, we will go over the noted emergent language on the whiteboard.

Part Two: Talking About Others 

Lesson is based on “Every Picture Tells a Story”(Meddings & Thornbury, 2011,    p. 55).

Show the class a photo of a Brazilian woman/transgender enjoying Carnival.

Talk about the photo with the class and focus on the students’ first impressions.

Briefly, turn the conversation to why the woman is so happy (she is obviously enjoying herself.) Next, talk about the effects of the woman’s happiness.

Divide the board in half.

Instruct half of the class to work as a group to write a paragraph about the causes of the woman’s happiness on the left side of the board.

Instruct the remaining students to write a paragraph about the effects of the woman’s happiness on the right side of the board.

When the students are finished, each group will edit the other group’s writing for content, organization, lexical items, and grammar.

Go over each text with the class focusing on content, rhetorical elements, lexical items, and grammar.

Wrap-Up & Homework 

Tell learners they will be writing a cause & effect essay on happiness. Happiness is an incredibly broad and vague topic. I want the students to be deductive and narrow their topic down. Let learners know they will have to narrow the focus of ‘happiness.’

Brainstorm as a class some topics for our papers. Write the ideas on the board. After we have several ideas, talk about the pros and cons of each idea and have students try to anticipate the problems that may arise when writing on each of the topics.

  • (Some topics from the past.)
  • Learning English and happiness
  • Responsibility and happiness
  • Friendship and happiness
  • Improving physical and mental health and happiness

Students should begin their essays. They do not have to complete a first draft, but they should have enough written for us to review next class. We will do peer and group reviews.


Meddings, L., & Thornbury, S. (2011). Part A. Teaching unplugged: Dogme in English

language teaching (pp. 7-22). (1st Indian ed.). New Delhi: Viva Books Private


Biographical Narrative Lesson

I put the photo above onto the screen. It is a photo of writers I admire, but I do not tell the class anything about the folks in the photo.

I place the class into groups of four and tell them that one person from each group will choose someone from the photo and become that person for this activity. I have each group decide which member will become the person on the screen, then that learner will choose which person he or she would like to become. I will refer to this learner as student one.

Student two will ask questions about childhood and family. Student three will ask questions about education. Student four will ask questions about career and accomplishments.

I give student one time to plan out aspects of his or her life, while the other students brainstorm questions they will ask student one. After brainstorming, students one through three will interview student one about his or her life. Any questions that student one did not anticipate will have to be answered on the fly, so I make sure that student one is one of the more proficient students in the class.

Students one through three take notes on the answers given by student one about her life. After the group feels they have sufficient knowledge about the person’s life, they will work together to create a brief outline. I walk around helping students with language and ask them questions about their outline to make sure they have sufficient information for the next step.

Once the groups are happy with their outlines, I have them collaborate on a short biographical narrative on student one’s ‘life’. I only have the students compose about a paragraph in class.

The last time I did this activity, I had the students compose the text with their smartphones using google docs. We reviewed the texts as a class on the screen. One caveat is that these students have worked closely together for two years and generally have no problem sharing their writing in class. I always get their permission before sharing a students writing.

For homework, each student is composing a biographical narrative unrelated to this activity. This activity is employed to further the students understanding of biographical narrative and to encourage collaboration and community building. Each week students work on their essay assignments but must also do extensive writing exercises.

Students will continue this activity outside of class as an extensive writing assignment. Each student uses the paragraph composed in class to create their own biographical narrative essay. The students will add an introduction and conclusion as well as organize the body of the essay using the existing paragraph and adding supporting details. At the beginning of the next class, learners will share their extensive writings. It is interesting for the learners to see how their writings compare and contrast as well as possibly ‘steal’ some ideas from their classmates.


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