Thursday, June 2, 2011

Teaching Simple Past - Short Biographies - John Lennon

"Writing could be considered to be one of the most difficult skills to master. Few people, even in their native language, find writing a story, a biography or a descriptive narrative an easy task. However, even after just two semesters of instruction, we teachers ask our students to write. How can we make the writing practice more appealing?" I once attended a wonderful workshop at Laurels by Cathy Lonngren, and she provided the audience with some useful insights. I used some of her ideas to engage my students and guide them into writing a short biography.

1. Tell your students that you have a puzzle for them. Let them see the pictures and try to guess whose life it depicts.

2. Use the pictures as a prompt to encourage students to guess what the appropriate sentence is. Say the correct sentence and give the picture to the student who guessed the closest.

Illustrated by Cleide Nascimento
John Lennon was born in Liverpool, England in 1940.
He studied are and wanted to be an artist.
In 1962 he formed a band called The Beatles with Paul Mcartney, George Harrison and Ringo Star.
In 1968 John divorced his childhood sweetheart, Cynthia.
John married a Japanese girl named Yoko Ono.
The band broke up in 1970 shortly after recording one of the greatest albums, Let It Be.
In 1975 John's and Yoko's son, Sean. was born.
John spent five years helping take care of his boy.
On December8, 1980, a young man named Mark Chapman shot John outside his home in New York.
John died in a police car on the way to the hospital.

3. Class reconstructs the biography using the pictures as prompts.
4. After laying the pictures in the correct order, a gapped version of the text is given out. Students complete it with the correct verb tense or sequence markers.
5. Students then can write their own biography by following the model.


  1. excellent activity thank you very much for sharing

  2. wonderful...thanks a lot for sharing it.

  3. Thank you very very very much. It worked for my students and we enjoyed our lesson; learnt how to write a short biography easily.