Plot Twist!

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Name of Teacher: Kristina Elyse Butke

Class/Grade/Language Level: High School, all levels

Textbook Not applicable


  • Creativity: Enhance students' ability to improvise and think imaginatively
  • Language: Reinforces vocabulary and language in context through the practice of creative writing


  • The creation of story cards: character cards, setting cards, and "plot twist" cards. Each card should have a labeled image on it. The character cards are for the main character in the story. The setting cards determine where the story should take place. The "plot twist" cards should introduce a surprise element that could be anything--people, animals, objects, etc. Note: For advanced students, the cards you create should be completely random and crazy. This will require students to get more creative in how to utilize these items in their story. For lower-level students, the cards you create should be a bit more logical. This will help students have an easier time making connections between objects and ideas. They will still have to think about how to use them in their story, but they won't have to search as hard for ways to incorporate them into what they write.
  • A3-sized printouts of the cards during teacher review (or you can put them on a PowerPoint).
  • Students need pencils and paper.

Class time:

  • Requires full class time. 45-50 minutes.
  • It will take about 5 minutes to review the activity and vocabulary on the cards. Use the A3 printouts to review vocabulary. You may also want to review with the JTE the elements of story in Japanese.
  • Part One should take around 30-35 minutes depending on students' English level.
  • Part Two should take 10-15 minutes depending on their willingness to read.
  • ALT will collect papers to check the English and add feedback.

How the Lesson Incorporates the Four Skills

  • Reading: Students read each other's sentences in order to understand and add to the story.
  • Writing: Students write a unique story in English by composing sentences that build on their peers' work.
  • Speaking: Students practice speaking when they share their story out loud to the class.
  • Listening: Students listen to the stories when they are read aloud.


  • Essentially, this is a story chain. Students sit in their individual seats so they have privacy for writing their sentences, but to also maintain an element of surprise in the story construction. The student who starts the story draws one card randomly from the character and setting piles. They begin the story with these details. After they write 1 or 2 sentences, they pass their paper to the student on their right, who will add 1-2 sentences, and so on. Depending on the students' skill level, you can have students pass the story around several times for a more detailed piece.
  • At the halfway point in the activity, the teacher will call out "Plot twist!" Whoever is currently working on the story draws a random card from the "plot twist" pile and they have to introduce that new element to the story.
  • The teachers should give a warning when the story needs to be drawn to a close.


  • Students volunteer or are chosen to read the story aloud.


  • This would take additional classes, but you could turn this into a unit where students have to perform their story as a skit in front of the class. You could devote one class to rehearsing and making props, and the second class entirely to performance.


  • The ALT collects the papers to make English corrections and offer constructive, encouraging feedback to students.