Writing Strategies: Raising Awareness of Structuring Writing with Mr. Bean

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Name of Teacher: Christopher Tempest

Class/Grade/Language Level: SHS Years 1-3

Textbook and specific lesson: NA

Goal: To raise students’ awareness of how to structure extended writing to make them more coherent and easier to understand.

Preparation: Mr. Bean Episodes – The Restaurant and The Crazy Golf.

Class time: 40 mins

First, summarise each episode into about 6 paragraphs written on individual slips of paper. Split the class in two and have students work in pairs. Give the Restaurant paragraphs to pairs on one side of the class and the Crazy Golf to the others.

Second, ask the students in pairs to read each paragraph on the papers and work together to try and put the paragraphs in what they think is the correct order, and to write down the order on some paper. Inform students of any words or phrases they might not know. (I used symbols at the top of each piece of paper, so the students just wrote down the order of the symbols/ shapes rather than writing out all the paragraphs)

Third, play each of the episodes on a TV or screen. As the students watch their relevant episode, have them compare the story in the video with the order they have their paragraphs in and to make any adjustments.

Finally, tell the students the correct orders of the paragraphs and have them compare the correct ones with what they have.

In general, students will find the Restaurant episode easy to put into order, as the episode has a clear flow to the story, sit at the table, order from the menu, wait for the food and eat, although Mr. Bean does this more comically.

The crazy golf however is more difficult as it is very random. Mr. Bean hits the golf ball all over town, from shopping bags, sewers, ice-cream and garbage trucks. As there is no flow to the story, putting it in order is more challenging.

This exercise aims to highlight to students, that you can have perfect English, but if you do not order your writing in a coherent and structured way, that has a flow / direction, it can be very difficult to understand.

The great thing about using Mr. Bean is that he doesn’t speak much English, so students do not have to worry about difficult phrases, and it has a lot of humorous scenes that the students can enjoy.