A class project – a sequel to Next Door

We are glad to share this class project as an excellent example of using our readings to develop creative writing skills with your students. A class of 2nd year high school level students,  2^BS, from the Liceo delle Scienze Applicate ’G. Marconi’ in Tortona sent us a story they wrote as a sequel to our level 1 reader, Next Door by Robert Campbell. You can find out more about the story here and read a great interview with the author here.

The class of 15 students wrote a lovely sequel to this science-fiction story. I talked to Nadia Roncoli, their English language teacher about the project.

Q: Hello Nadia, can you tell me about your class?

Nadia: Well, actually I’m no longer their English language teacher, but I do know that they are still very good students, well versed in English and ,what’s more important, very curious and imaginative.

Q: How long have you been using graded readers with them?

Nadia: I used graded readers for two years with them, and I’m still using graded readers with all my six classes at the moment.

Q: How did you have the idea of writing a sequel?

Nadia: Actually, I was testing them on “Next Door”: the plot, the characters, the main themes, and so on when suddenly a spontaneous question came to my mind: “What do you think will happen to Eoin on Medacalon?” and that was the beginning of our adventure…

Q: How did you organize the project and how long did it take you to write the story?

Nadia: Well, I created a group for the class, 2^BS, on Wikispaces and, after writing the first sentence describing the beginning of the Eoin’s new life on planet Medacalon, I asked each student to contribute towards it writing as many lines as they wanted.

Q: Have your students written any other stories?

Nadia: No, they haven’t.

Q: How do you motivate your class to read? What do they like reading?

Nadia: After this successful experience, I try to motivate my students to read any kind of stories: adventure, fantasy, romantic, science-fiction, detective stories and I must admit that Helbling Languages offers a wide range of graded books from which I can pick and choose. I also point out and help them understand the importance of learning as many words as possible if they want to learn English well.

Q: Do you have any tips on teaching reading?

Nadia: To be honest, I don’t think I’m in a position to give advice, I still need to take advice! Anyway, out of my experience I can say that the most important step is creating interest in the story they are reading and, when it is possible, creating connections between them and the characters.

Q: What kind of story would you like to read with your class?

Nadia: Well, I’d like to read a story which is a mixture of reality and imagination, but, above all has a strong moral for my students!

Q:Thanks, Nadia!

Nadia: It was my pleasure!

You can read sample pages from the reader and listen to sample audio clips here.

You can download and read the story written by the class here.

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