Back Tuesday 31 Mar 2020 11:58 am

Remote English teaching: ideas for building anticipation

This is the second blog in our mini-series with ideas for EMC-style approaches which can work at a distance. This time we explore how to use anticipation to get students thinking, while harnessing a little suspense to keep them engaged. The slow reveal works well in class, so why not do it virtually?
main image for blog post 'Remote English teaching: ideas for building anticipation'

Five ideas for building anticipation

  1. Send out different lines of a poem to different students and ask them to speculate about the whole poem. Have a conversation by blog or Zoom about the different elements before revealing the whole poem for some further analysis.
  2. Send out the opening of a story and ask students to finish it in the same ‘voice’. Get students to reflect on the choices they made to continue in the same style, for example tense, point of view, tone and so on.
  3. Send out the ending of a story and ask students to write what came before. Use this as a starting point for work on what endings can do – often a weak point in students’ own creative writing.
  4. Reveal a poem line by line, or section by section, over several days, with students blogging their thoughts at each stage before getting to see the whole thing.
  5. Send out the first sentence of some freely available online stories. You could use the stories in your free EMC download. Ask students to comment on which story they would least like to read, based on the opening, with their reasons. After they have read each others’ suggestions, get a class vote on which story to eliminate before sending out the second sentence. Students can see the second sentence of the story they have eliminated, but can’t change their mind. Continue until all but one story has been eliminated. You could pause at this point for students to compare the openings. Sometimes just the difference in length of the opening five sentences can be stark, with one story already much longer than another. Send the link to the chosen story for students to read. You could set more work on this story later, or leave the activity as it is with students getting a chance to comment on whether the story continued in the way they expected, whether they were pleased with the choice and so on.

Our next blog will have some ideas for using online texts with plenty of links for good places to find them.

If you have further, English specific ideas, to contribute, please use the comments section to share with other teachers.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash



You could do a sort of Bandersnatch creative writing activity using the poll tool for students to decide the outcome of the story. By Faye Griffiths on 21st Jan 2021

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