As promised, here’s Part Two of my Banksy lesson arc! You can find Part One here. The strength of this lesson lies in the way I personalised it for the particular city I teach in, and I encourage you to edit your materials so that your lesson can more closely reflect your own city and context.
I really can’t overstate how much production this lesson generates – even when it comes to writing, which my students usually hate. I’ve actually just finished marking a batch of FCE formal letters based on this lesson, and the marks are the highest this class has achieved all year!
Level: B2 (Upper-Intermediate) or FCE
Age: teenagers or adults
Time: 80 minutes
Materials: exam question, list of phrases for formal letters, destroyed model text (comment for files)
- By the end of the lesson, students will have written a formal letter (FCE Writing Part 2) in the context of graffiti and street art.
- Students will also be more familiar with fixed expressions used in formal letters.
It’s a nice idea to start this lesson by reflecting on what you covered in Part One. Can your students remember anything about the art, the artist or the new vocabulary?
1. Speaking: Divide students into 8 groups. Assign each group a “new identity”: foreign tourists visiting the city for the first time; undergraduate students at the local university; representatives from the mayor’s office; policemen and policewomen; local artists; curators of local galleries; elderly local residents; local business owners. Now ask students to imagine: You go to bed on a Sunday night in (name of your city). You wake up on Monday morning, open the curtains and see … the entire city covered in Banksy’s graffiti! How do you feel? In their groups, students discuss what their “new identities” would think, exploring both upsides and downsides, e.g. local artists may feel happy that people are more aware of modern art, but they may also feel unable to compete with an artist as famous as Banksy.
2. Writing: Tell students they are going to participate in a local city council meeting. (You may have to spend some time explaining this concept, especially to teenagers!) They need to represent the opinions of their “new identity” at the meeting. Give them a few minutes to write notes on their opinions of all the new graffiti, and a minimum of one suggestion as to what should be done about it.
3. Speaking: Divide the students into groups of 8, so that each group has one member from each of the “new identities”. They’re at a city council meeting. The representative from the mayor’s office is in charge, and as the chair of the meeting, they must make sure everyone’s opinions and suggestions are heard. When the meetings have finished, students should return to their original “new identity” groups and report back on what happened in their council meetings. In open-class feedback, ask students how their own personal opinions compare to that of their “new identity”.
4. Exam strategy: Give students a copy of the exam task. They should work through the 5 guiding questions. Give immediate whole-class feedback.
5. Vocabulary (optional): You can manage this part however you’d like, but the aim is that by the end of the stage, students will have ten useful phrases for their formal letters written in their exercise books. I did mine as a running dictation, which my teenage classes always love!
6. Planning: Ask students to help you structure this formal letter. Board their ideas, making clear links between the opinions and suggestions required for the exam task and the opinions and suggestions given in the council meeting. Here’s my #ELTwhiteboard to give you an idea:
7. Writing: Give students about 10-15 minutes of silent writing time. While students are writing, collect notes for language feedback at a later stage.
8. Reading: Show students the destroyed model text. (I gave mine two versions of the text, destroyed in slightly different ways, and got them to work together to reconstruct it out loud, in pairs.) Students discuss: How does this woman feel about graffiti? What’s her suggestion for what should be done? How do you know? In feedback, establish how well the writer expresses her opinion by making careful lexical and stylistic choices.
9. Writing: Give students another 10-15 minutes of writing time. At this stage you can help weaker students by giving hot feedback on their writing, and push stronger students by getting them to reflect on their stylistic choices in comparison to the model.
10. Homework: Tell students finish the letter at home (about 10-20 minutes, depending on how much time you spent writing in class). Next lesson, they could either hand it in or continue to work on it through guided peer and teacher feedback.