Hands-on English current events activity for November, 1997

(To adapt this activity for other winter storms, just eliminate the first paragraph below. The rest of the story may apply to you!)

Note: You are welcome to print, copy and use this activity with your students. However, this material is copyrighted, so please don't re-publish it anywhere without permission.

 

Multi-level dictation: "Instant Winter in Nebraska"

Many ESL teachers have multi-level classes, which is why the multi-level dictation is one of our most popular activities. It gives all of your students a chance to work together on the same topic, while still challenging themselves at their own individual levels.

Below you will find a reading passage about the recent storm in the Midwest, followed by three versions of the story with blanks designed for three different levels of dictation. (The fourth level, the most challenging, is a blank page.) You might choose to read and discuss the news story first with your students. Then, have each student select which level to try and hand out the worksheets. Read the dictation a sentence at a time, at a natural speaking speed with pauses between sentences so students can write.

When the students are finished writing, have them help each other to correct the text. Notice that beginning students can help advanced students, since they have the more complete text!

Finally, several teachers have told us that their students like to try the dictation again at a different level, so offer them this option. (Be sure to bring lots of extra copies of each level with you when you come to class.)

Note: We've included discussion and writing suggestions about this story (at the bottom of the page) which you can do in class or offer as homework assignments.


Instant Winter in Nebraska

In Nebraska, in the middle of the U.S., the weather is usually nice in October. For example on Saturday, October 25, it was raining, but the weather was warm and the leaves on the trees were green. By Sunday, October 26, it was very, very cold. The snow was 14 inches deep. There was ice on all the trees, and the wind was blowing. It was instant winter.

Some trees fell down. Some trees broke in half. Almost every tree lost some big branches. Thousands of people had no electricity. It was cold, so they had to stay with friends or relatives, or go to a shelter. Some people had no phone service, and some people had no water for a few days. But most people were okay, and their houses were okay. Many people said, "We are lucky!" because nothing bad happened to their family or friends. But everyone feels sad about the trees.

After the storm, every street was filled with big tree branches and dead trees. Now people are working hard to clean up the streets. Workers for the city and for the state are very busy. Emergency teams have come from other states to help. The National Guard has come to help with military vehicles. Many volunteers with trucks and vans are also helping to clear away the mess. It will be many weeks before the job is finished.

 

Dictation Level A (easiest level):

Instant Winter in Nebraska

In Nebraska, in the ________ of the U.S., the weather is usually nice in ________. For example on ________, October 25, it was raining, but the weather was ________ and the leaves on the trees were ________. By ________, October 26, it was very, very ________. The ________ was 14 inches deep. There was ________ on all the trees, and the ________ was blowing. It was instant ________.

Some ________ fell down. ________ trees broke in half. Almost every tree lost some ________ branches. Thousands of ________ had no electricity. It was ________, so they had to stay with ________ or relatives, or go to a shelter. Some people had ________ phone service, and some people had no ________ for a few days. But most people were okay, and their ________ were okay. Many people said, "We are ________ !" because nothing bad happened to their ________ or friends. But everyone feels ________ about the ________.

After the storm, every ________ was filled with big ________ branches and dead trees. Now people are ________ hard to clean up the streets. Workers for the ________ and for the ________ are very busy. Emergency teams have come from other states to ________. The National Guard has come to ________ with military vehicles. Many volunteers with ________ and vans are also ________ to clear away the mess. It will be many ________ before the ________ is finished.

 

Dictation Level B:

Instant Winter in Nebraska

In Nebraska, ________ ________ ________ of the U.S., the weather ________ ________ ________ in October. For example ________ ________ , ________ ________ , it was raining, but the weather was warm and the ________ ________ ________ ________ were green. By ________, ________ ________ , it was very, very cold. The snow was ________ ________ ________. There was ice ________ ________ ________ ________, and the wind was blowing. It was ________ ________.

Some trees ________ ________. Some trees ________ ________ ________. Almost every tree ________ ________ ________ branches. Thousands of people ________ ________ electricity. It was cold, so they ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ or relatives, or go to a shelter. ________ ________ had no ________ service, and some people ________ ________ ________ for a few days. But ________ people were okay, ________ ________ ________ were okay. ________ ________ said, "We are lucky!" because ________ ________ ________ to their family or ________. But ________ feels sad about ________ trees.

________ ________ storm, every street ________ ________ ________ big tree branches and ________ ________. Now ________ ________ ________ hard to clean up the ________. Workers ________ ________ ________ and ________ ________ ________ are very ________. Emergency teams have come ________ ________ ________ to help. The National Guard ________ ________ ________ ________ with military vehicles. ________ volunteers with trucks and vans ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ away the mess. It will be ________ ________ before ________ ________ ________ ________.

 

Dictation Level C:

Instant Winter in Nebraska

In Nebraska, ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ U.S., the weather ________ ________ ________ ________ ________. For example ________ ________, ________ ________, it was ________, but the ________ ________ ________ and the ________ on the trees ________ ________. By ________, ________ ________, it was ________ ________ ________. The ________ ________ 14 inches ________. There ________ ice ________ ________ ________ ________, and the ________ ________ ________. ________ ________ instant ________.

Some ________ ________ ________. Some ________ ________ ________ ________. Almost ________ ________ ________ some ________ ________. Thousands ________ people ________ ________ ________. It ________ ________, ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ friends ________ relatives, or ________ ________ ________ shelter. Some ________ had ________ ________ ________, and some people ________ ________ ________ for ________ ________ ________. But ________ ________ ________ ________, and ________ houses ________ ________. Many people said, "________ ________ ________ !" because ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ family ________ ________. But everyone ________ ________ ________ ________ trees.

After ________ ________, every ________ ________ ________ ________ big ________ ________ and ________ ________. Now people ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ the streets. ________ ________ ________ city ________ ________ ________ state are ________ ________. Emergency teams ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ help. The ________ Guard ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ military vehicles. Many volunteers ________ ________ ________ ________ are also ________ ________ ________ ________ the mess. ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ the job ________ ________.

 

Dictation Level D (hardest level):

Instant Winter in Nebraska

Use a blank page to write the dictation!


Discussion

This news story gives the perfect opportunity for your students to tell about storms they have experienced, and what happened. Or, if there has been a historical event such as this in your city, you can tell the students about it. Events like this sometimes bring out the best in people, with everyone pitching in to help. These human interest stories can be the most interesting part of the tale!

As a homework assignment, ask your students to interview someone about a storm (or similar event) they remember. This interview could be with a native English speaker, or with someone else the student knows. The student can then report this story to the class orally, or in writing if that is appropriate.

Writing activity

Imagine that you have no electricity in your city for one week. What would be different? What do you think would happen? Would this be a big problem for you, or just a small problem? Why?

 


Editor's note: I'd be very interested to hear what you and your students thought of this activity! Thank you! We welcome teaching suggestions.--Anna Silliman.

 



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