When was the last time you got one of those hilarious excuses for being absent or failing to do some homework? This lesson (B1 and above) revolves around the theme of school excuses and gets students working on past tenses, reading and listening comprehension, and creative writing:
1. Have students match 10 sentences as they fill in the gaps with the verbs in the box in the right tense. Most of them are irregular past verbs.
1. Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it on Monday, we thought it was Sunday.
2. Jerry was at his grandmother’s yesterday, and she did not bring him to school because Jerry couldn’t remember where the school was.
3. Scott didn’t practise last night because he lost his tooth in the mouthpiece of his trumpet.
4. It was my fault Mike did not do his maths homework last night. His pencil broke and we do not have a pencil sharpener at home. Yes, he was home all night!
5. Ronnie could not finish his work last night. He said his brain was tired of spelling.
6. Diane was late on Wednesday. She fell asleep on the bus and was taken back to the bus yard.
7. Eric hurt his knee in a karate tournament over the weekend. He won his age group, but was in too much pain to do his maths assignment.
8. Marty wasn’t in school yesterday because he thought it was Saturday.
9. I left my homework in the back of a pickup truck. It went through a carwash.
10. Sorry teacher, I’m a little, little bit late today. What happened is that in the morning on the way to school I got kidnapped.
2. “What are these sentences about?”, “What do you think of them?”, “Which one is your favourite?”, “Have you ever heard or read any really funny excuse from a classmate?”
3. Focus on the last sentence: “Sorry teacher, I’m a little, little bit late today. What happened is that in the morning on the way to school I got kidnapped.” Play the beginning of this short film by Sijia Luo until 0:48:
4. Students work together and write the missing parts of the story using the words provided. Have one student from each team read their versions to the rest of the class.
5. Watch the short film and discuss the differences.
6. In their teams, students write a creative excuse for being late or absent, or failing to do their homework. Students share their excuses and vote on the most inventive!
This could be one of the most productive writing lessons you’ve taught in a while. Just saying!