Archive for the 'English Teacher Examples' Category

Stories with Holes

April 26, 2018

I was teaching a lesson today on critical thinking based on a riddle I was given at the PAIS teachers’ conference. The riddle is as follows:

A man lives on the twelfth floor of a building. Each morning he gets up, showers, gets dressed, takes the elevator to the first floor and goes to work. Each evening, he comes home, takes the elevator to the sixth floor, runs up to the twelfth floor and he’s home. Why doesn’t he take the elevator to the twelfth floor when he comes home?

Answer? He is too short to reach the button.

My class got this about 15 minutes quicker than I did, so I created a choice of bridging activities in case we had finished all other tasks related.

  • Imagine you are the man, getting into the lift for the first time and realising that the 12 button is too high. Write the introduction to a story with this as the idea.
  • Try to create your own logic/critical thinking conundrum to challenge the rest of the class.
  • Essay question: How does using critical thinking support all subject areas?

Most of the students picked option 2. However, I picked option 1 and modelled my good behaviour by getting on with it in the allocated 10 minutes. Here is my result:


When looking up and down the heavily wallpapered hallway, a sense of times gone by pervaded. The art on the walls was kooky and mundane at the same time – if that’s at all possible – fruits in pastels of unusual colours; the slightly off-centre stare of a big busted Monalisa; a few old cigarette adverts of the 1970s without our more modern health warnings. He stepped into the elevator. The light around the button for number 17 flickered high above his head. Gilded mirrors flourished in a garden of faux-leather padding.

Floor 12. He could see it clearly.

One bead of sweat slowly trickled over his enlarged balding brow. There was no way. He’d been in elevators like this one before but always squashed against someone, and a bulbous giant of a woman or a wannabe aggressive Teddy Boy type would reach over and, after looking down at him (with possible pity) would politely inquire – “Which floor?”

However, on re-opening the door with it’s vibrato ping, the padded silence of the lobby trudged back at him through overly thick carpet with a slow and steady monotonousness. There was nobody to help now.

He took a shot at it. Fingers stretched and extended as far as was possible. Legs squatted and feet bounced against the metal casing. Shudders in the lift shaft like bursts of static being released into the evening.

On the roof, a pigeon took flight.

By the entrance, the concierge thought for a moment that maybe he had heard something, but soon decided against it and went back to his book.



New Shoes

February 14, 2018

This was written as an example of how specific details can make stories more realistic and hold more weight with your reader.

This was the first lesson, in which I asked students to consider and then writer about a pair of shoes which had been important for some reason to them. Maybe they had been particularly special or maybe they had been horrendously ugly. Why did they stand out to you? What can they tell us about you or your life?

In the next lesson, we looked at perspective and had to write as the shoes. The kids came out with some exceptional pieces in the end.

Here is my example using a pair of trainers I got when I was a teenager which I remember still as being the flashiest pair of shoes I’d ever owned.


They smelled like cool. All the students at school had talked about these – now I finally had a pair. The pink tick sparkled at me as if they had a mischievous glint in their eye; the laces twirled and danced upon the tongue; the air bubbles in the base seemed to pulsate to an inert beat which my footsteps were ready to join. I remember when I first put them on: “ha,” I thought, “it’s like walking on a cloud.” I’d never really been cool at school – I wasn’t unpopular, just not popular with the right people, if you know what I mean. However, these shoes were going to change that. I could feel it.

Character Description

February 5, 2018

This is an example I modelled for students for Character Description. I had to meet the Success Criteria that we had made which was:

  • Describe how they look
  • Describe how they act/react
  • Use direct speech
  • Describe how other characters react to them
  • Describe their clothes

This was written in front of them in full flow… with some input from the students!


His grey hoodie was too big for him and fell over his hands like a willow tree over a lake, gently brushing the surface of his fingertips. He couldn’t help but fiddle with the sleeves, nervously scraping his nails across the stitching. His hair was shaved close to his head but he had long eyelashes which shadowed his dark grey eyes.  He saw her coming before she saw him.

“Hey!” he shouted, clearing his chest of sandwich crumbs and rising from the brick wall. She smiled at him, but then looked away, awkwardly acting as if she didn’t know him. She was like a mouse skittering across the kitchen floor so as not to be seen. Flailing madly, he ran across to her – shoving his body in front of her and glaring.

“Am I not worth one little hello, Andrea?!”

When teaching Pathetic Fallacy

February 3, 2018

I often think to myself – I don’t write enough! My blog has lain dormant for over a year now and notepads lie empty and un-scribbled in.

But I’ve realised, of course, that I write all the time! I write examples for students almost every day which we analyse or use as models for techniques.

So, I thought that I’d start to post some here – starting with this extract which I wrote during a lesson on Pathetic Fallacy. The task was that I gave them timed writing tasks with different weather examples in different orders. We were to see how much the weather changes and order affected the story we wrote. Here’s one I wrote where every picture was of a kind of vague drizzle. The time limit was 5 minutes.


Outside the window, the pitter patter of rain trundled on, endlessly. It wasn’t that powerful rain which knocks you back and soaks you through instantly, or that light rain which seems to caress your face like a mother to a child – but a pathetic weak rain which insipidly creeps up on you, gradually corroding the outer layers of skin, until there you are – stripped of all protective layers, wrinkled finger tips and shrivelled heart – ready to sit on a park bench and simply give up.

The clouds weren’t a violent purple grey of surging anger, no, they were a tepid light grey like the suit trousers of an insurance salesman or the skin of someone who is not quite dead… Yet.

And the air hung like a meat carcass in the butcher’s shop – dead – but not yet of any discernable use. Awaiting eventual consumption.

It was cold.

But not too cold.

He longed to be frozen – for his fingers to ache with frost-bite; for icicles to pop from his nose like stalactites – just so that he could say:

“Ooh, it’s a bit chilly out, Margaret”


“We’ll need to get a fresh pair of gloves for you if this continues.”

But, no.

It was not too cold and neither was it warm.

Life was a luke-warm cup of tea for Nigel, and he wanted out.