This activity was done with an Upper Intermediate group. At the beginning of the week we had looked at a poem, as they occur quite frequently in our course book (Global). A couple of days later we were covering conditionals and I decided to incorporate poetry into the lesson.
I was aware of the speaking game where a student gives a conditional sentence and the next student must start their sentence with the result clause from the previous student. I thought that this could easily be adapted into a free verse poem writing task.
We had gone through all the conditionals but I felt the 2nd was most appropriate for the task.
When I told the class that they were going to write a poem they were shocked, "I can't write a poem in Spanish, how can I write one in English?!".
Once they understood the concept we went to the computers so that they could write the poems on the class forum. I really wanted the students to read their classmates' poems as I had a feeling that there would be some good ones!
The students really got into the task. Once they started they realised that it wasn't that difficult to write a poem in English. They had some really imaginative ideas, and to be honest it surprised me how well they did. While they were writing I was there to help with any vocabulary questions and give them gentle nudging to check the form of the verbs.
It took approximately 20 minutes for the students to write their poems. Most were surreal and very entertaining. Every member of the class was very proud of their work. We spent a few minutes reading each others poems and students were encouraged to comment.
That evening I created a document that included all the poems on one sheet of A4. A student commented that now they had their poems in print they were real artists!
A Selection of Student Poems:
If I climbed the palm tree, I'd collect some coconuts
If I collected some coconuts, I'd give some to the monkeys
If I gave some to the monkeys, I'd play with them
If I played with them, I'd feel like Mowgli
If I felt like Mowgli. I'd feel happy
If I felt happy, I'd jump down
If I jumped down, I'd break my legs.
If I broke my legs, everybody'd laugh me.
by S. from Turkey
If I won the lottery, I'd buy a rocket to the moon.
If I went to the moon, I'd speak with ET.
If I spoke with ET, I'd ask him how to fly.
If I knew how to fly, I'd travel around space without diesel in my rocket.
If I traveled around space, I'd meet another ETs.
If I met other ETs, I'd ask them for the secrets of the universe.
If I asked ETs for the secrets of universe, I'd return to the earth with the real truth.
If I returned to the earth with the real truth, I'd win the lottery.
by C. from Spain
If I were a cat, I would be an animal.
If I were an animal, I would have four legs.
If I had four legs, I could run very fast.
If I ran very fast, I could catch a little mouse.
If I caught a little mouse, I would play with it.
If I played with it, we would be friends.
If we were friends, we could stay a long time in the sun.
If we stayed a long time in the sun, we could stay in the sun chair.
If we stayed in the sun chair, our owner would be angry.
If our owner was angry, she wouldn't have cats.
If she didn't have cats, she would have mice.
If she didn't have mice, we couldn't be friends.
by M. from Spain
If I won the lottery, I'd travel around the world
If I traveled around the world, I'd learn lot of things
If I learnt lot of things, I'd be a better person
If I was a better person, I'd help people
If I helped people, I'd be happier
If I were happier, I'd spread my energy
If I spread my energy, I'd feel like a goddess
If I felt like a goddess, I'd wake up.
by S. from Spain
Image made using photos taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by @sandymillin, Phil Bird, @dudeneyge, @mkofab, Martin Eayrs, @GoldstienBen used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0