that's what I am (or at least what I aim to be)

#flashmobELT – my life in 20 lines

So I’m pretty new to the blogosphere, twittosphere and many other spheres besides, and I’ve been trying to make connections with other ELT teachers. I want to build up a network of like-minded individuals who can help and direct me as I aim to develop and grow as an educator and implement ideas I’m getting from my DELTA/MA in ELT.

Anyway, I heard about his new group, #flashmobELT, that had just started out, with teachers posting lesson ideas on a wall, trying out some of the suggested ideas and letting others know how they got on. As the group is still in its infancy, it seemed like a perfect place to jump in.

The first idea I tried was posted by a guy called James from www.theteacherjames.com. You can see it below as it appeared on the wall.

the activity as it appeared on the lino wall

the activity as it appeared on the lino wall

My pre-intermediate class had just finished a unit in the coursebook about biographies and it seemed like a perfect time to try this out. As you can see, very little set-up was needed. All I had to do was write ‘My Life in 20 lines’ to use as an example. Writing my example was harder than I thought because I had to decide what to put in, to give it an authentic personal feel, and what details to leave out so my mostly conservative students wouldn’t be too offended or shocked.

In the original idea, James thought that the students could be directed to notice that the first 19 sentences were in the past simple and the final one was the present continuous. I know that my students are reluctant writers and I thought that they could do with a bit more scaffolding. I felt that with a little more language focus before the writing, my students might produce something a bit more complex than they were used to. So, I showed them the example I’d written and we dissected it together with a few directed ‘noticing’ questions.


When I gave the students my story, I asked them the following questions.

What verb tenses are used? In 1-19? In 20?

What comes after ‘started’?

What comes after ‘wanted’ and ‘decided’?

What have 2, 7, 10 and 14 got in common?

In sentence 8, what happened first? What was the result?

After we had discussed and answered the questions, I gave the students 40 minutes to write their 20 line autobiographies. The results were impressive. Most of the students wrote much more accurately than they usually do. They also tried to use more complex sentences. They enjoyed the task and I think it was a success. Tomorrow, for the first ten minutes of class, I will read out some of the bios and get the other students to guess who wrote it. Should be fun.

Thanks #flashmobELT!


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5 thoughts on “#flashmobELT – my life in 20 lines

  1. annloseva on said:

    It was such a pleasure to find this post. Thank you for spreading the word about #flashmobELT! But most of all, thank you for making use of it, trying out an activity and posting about it.
    I agree that this activity looks like a simple but effective way to make students feel more confident with Past Simple. I will be doing it too as soon as I have an appropriate moment.

  2. Aidan @leedsacademy on said:

    Thanks for dropping by AND leaving a comment. As you can see, this blog is still a baby so it’s great to get feedback.
    I’ll be back on the lino wall in the next few days, to post a new activity and hoping to try out another.
    Thanks again,

  3. Awesome! I’m going to try this with my online learners!

  4. Hi Aidan,

    Thanks a million for using my activity and then taking the time to write about it. It’s a wonderful example of how the online teaching community works: I blog, Ann sets up the #flashmobelt linoit, and you write about it here. Teachers sharing and working together in three different areas of the world. And sorry it took me so long to say thanks!


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