Foreword try out these riddles and see if you can answer the

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Teachers’ Guide


Try out these riddles and see if you can answer them.

1. A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over five minutes. Finally, she hangs him.

Five minutes later, they both go out for a meal together. How can this be?

2. Children aged between 4 and 6 can solve this problem in 5 minutes. 95% of adults can’t. Can you?








4500=? The answers to both riddles are at the back of this book on page 314.

I must confess. I didn’t get either of them. Was it because I think in a certain way without seeing other possibilities? Is it because I don’t spend enough time problem solving with riddles and brain teasers? It could well be. I would feel confident after seeing the answers that I would not be caught out with these types of riddles again.

The question is; do the students in our care deserve the same platform of thinking? They have been born on the cusp of a century that has seen three technological leaps. These are:

1. Long distance communication: a faster postal service, the telephone and the mobile phone.

2. Transport: the car, the engine-powered ship and the airplane.

3. The storing of knowledge on computers; the modern phones are more powerful than the best computer available to George Bush Sr.

They are going to have to work in a century which will see nine or more. The modern workplace shall need students who are problem solvers, who interact well with others and who are creative and open minded about huge changes in both the workplace and society.

Bearing this in mind, ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ is designed to rise to the challenges thrown down by the introduction of technology. More and more, students are asking how class lessons are relevant to them.

This Teachers’ Guide hopes to make life as easy as possible for the teachers who use it. This will benefit the students by having structured, interesting and comprehensive monthly modules for them to enjoy. The first 2 months of lesson plans are completed as are the first 11 poetry lessons. The other lesson plans may be filled in by the teacher with the minimum of fuss. Each pre-planned lesson should only take 5-10 minutes to fill in. Furthermore, most lessons have a recommended site to visit in order to provide an extra visual/aural stimulation.

I am well aware that each teacher has his/her own, unique brand of magic to a classroom. That is why the lesson content is designed to focus in on the paradigms of English that all students should know. There are personal statements, success maps, Latin phrases on living life well, a points reward system for descriptions, grammar lessons and even a formula for poetry. The pre-planned structure gives the teacher a great opportunity. They can discuss with their students the modules that will be covered in the month, the term and the year ahead. This strategy gives the students a sense of ownership in the process. There are also revision exercises at the end of each monthly module designed to keep the students on their toes!

There are nine characteristics that good learners share. This book attempts to fuse as many of them as possible into its content and its lesson plans. The nine characteristics are:

1. Open-mindedness. 2. Self-awareness. 3. Tolerance. 4. An alert mind. 5. Good energy levels. 6. An ability to set goals. 7. A willingness to take risks. 8. Self-discipline. 9. The capacity to value, accept and undergo change.

Points 4 and 5 are interesting. That is why diet and nutrition are covered in a manner where the students can subtly discover for themselves the benefits of healthy eating. This is a book which encourages paired/team work also. It is student-friendly yet it will also challenge them in so many ways. It is a book which requires rigour from the students and a degree of flexibility and imagination from the teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy the challenge ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ throws at you. Hopefully, the Teachers’ Guide will make it pleasurable.

Finally, I am mindful that some teachers may have 6 periods of English a week whereas others may have anything between 3 and 5. The class duration may be 30 minutes to one hour. That is why there are more than enough lessons per month to accommodate everyone. If you feel there are too many lesson plans for you to cover in a given month, there are templates on pages 309-312 to make out your own Monthly and Yearly Plans. You may simply pick which weekly units you would like to use and put them in.




Creative grid: Full stops: Latin abbreviations

Creative grid: Different narrative styles

Capital letters: Bullet points: Story-fizzers

Personal pronouns, subjects and objects

Descriptive grid: The importance of gratitude

Descriptive grid: Adverbs: Colour grid

Punctuation: Wordsearch: Using a storychain

The ‘Blood Rain’ of India: Past simple tense

Metaphors: Crossword: Similes

Past continuous tense: Present simple tense

Mindfulness: The macro and micro in writing

Frogs, fish, cows and coal falling from skies?

Descriptive writing: Planning a reading day

Present continuous: Future simple

Interrogative words: Punctuation

Future continuous: Assonance: Flash fiction

Making a portfolio template: Informal letters

Taste and smells grid: Using ‘pulse’ words

Texture: Nutrition and diet: Recap on module

Associative learning: Crossword: Fun quiz



Creative grid: There/their/they’re: Commas

1st grid describing females: 2nd grid females

Onomatopoeia: Achieving success in life

Writing a story with character descriptions

Constructing a Life Map to success

3rd grid females: Writing a horror story

Multi-sensory grid: Direct speech

4th grid females: The beauty and the beastly

Crossword: Direct to indirect speech

5th grid females: Make a crossword

Wordsearch: The structure of an essay

1st grid describing males: 2nd grid males

Writing a diary: The Great Famine

2nd grid males: Writing a battle scene

Having fun with colours: Personal statements

3rd grid males: Describing the desert

Mission statements: Associative learning

4th grid males: Writing a sports essay

Nutrition and diet: Why not fizzy drinks?

5th grid: Female and male wordsearches



Creative grid: Colons: Descriptive grid

Introduction to poetry module

Apostrophes: Plural possession: Semicolons

The history of poetry using anthropology

The 14 punctuation marks in English

The importance of linking music to poetry

Adjectives, nouns and verbs: Sample essay

The secret to great poetry with Venn diagram

Magical words grid: Crossword

Nursery rhymes and ‘Rule of Three’ patterns

Fun quiz to recap on module: Mnemonics

‘The Fog’ by Carl Sandburg

Onomatopoeia: David and Goliath story

‘The Eagle’ by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Using Point of View in a story: Colour chart

‘The Splendour Falls’ by Tennyson

The history of English: Greek culture

‘The Stolen Child’ by W.B. Yeats

Associative learning: Suffixes: Texting

‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ by Yeats



Creative grid: Colour grid: Descriptive grid

‘The Road not Taken’ by Robert Frost

Personification: Synonyms: Descriptive grid

‘Stopping by Woods’ by Frost

The genesis gene that exists in all of us

‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’: ST Coleridge

Descriptive grid: Using Point of View

‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling

Xmas external scene: Planning a short story

‘The Cottage in the Grove’ by Liam O’ Flynn

Sample short story: Associative learning

‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’: Frye

Revision grid: Make an Xmas crossword

EXTRA CLASSES pages 270-308

Note from author: I strongly recommend that you read pages 278-285 before using this book. It explains how the learning styles of your students may be guided by their multiple intelligence strengths and weaknesses. I hope it will be of invaluable assistance to you.

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.” Michelangelo



INTRODUCTION: how aiming high is beneficial: discuss wellbeing, mindfulness, empathy and why you need to get on with classmates

Lesson 1

Read page 1 : how spellings are earned, not learned: spelling P45: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

Lesson 2

Discuss patterns in descriptive writing: fill in 1st grid as a class

Lesson 3

Rules for full stops in writing: Latin abbreviations: discuss project work and the importance of portfolios

Lesson 4

Fill in 2nd grid: making up a story from words in grid: Pele quote

Lesson 5

Discuss communication: rules for capital letters: practise capital letters


Lesson 6

Fill in 3rd grid: devising class management system for weaker students

Lesson 7

Writing a story in bullet points for weaker students: practice ‘on task’

Lesson 8

Punctuation and 15 blues Wordsearch: discuss poverty and gratitude

Lesson 9

Fill in 4th grid as teamwork activity: using magical words in writing

Lesson 10

Archaic words and using metaphors: discuss Muhammed Ali quote


Lesson 11

Having fun with crosswords: using mnemonics to remember similes

Lesson 12

Introduction to similes: Using riddles to improve thinking

Lesson 13

Punctuating a passage: recap on using patterns in English idea

Lesson 14

Fill in 5th grid: team activity: make class grid on words

Lesson 15

End of beach module: 1st portfolio assignment


Lesson 16


Lesson 17

Using interrogative words to generate stories

Lesson 18

Read and punctuate: establish range of diction: establish mechanics

Lesson 19

Designing a PORTFOLIO TEMPLATE suitable for their needs

Lesson 20

Introduction to writing an informal letter: discuss first letter


Lesson 21


Lesson 22

Read letters 2 and 3: ‘on task’ questions discussed/finished in class

Lesson 23

Looking ahead at describing a forest: complete texture grids

Lesson 24

Using texture in writing: the sensory value of it: fill in the grids

Lesson 25

The relationship between triathletes and a nutritional diet/hard work


Lesson 26

Internet work if possible on filling in nutrition grids: homework if not

Lesson 27

Associative learning ‘on task’ in groups of four

Lesson 28

Life advice from 11 and 12-year-olds: coping with the modern world

Lesson 29

Advice from 11 and 12-year-olds on life: peer pressure and coping

Lesson 30

Recap on class ideas: most beautiful sentences: make posters

Always aim for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

W. Clement Stone


I had a little difficulty making out the plan for the structure of this book. I tried to envision a way that the students could come into the class and know their roles yet still feel energised by the freshness of a new topic to explore. I have already used the grid system for ‘Writing with Stardust’ and the feedback is very promising.

This is not the type of book that I wish to ‘paint words by numbers’, however. It is a book that explores patterns and structures in many areas but it is not supposed to be formulaic. It is meant to provide the base from which the students can mentally scaffold their way to building a creative, questing and fertile mind. I want the students to be able to discuss life, investigate issues, channel their creative energy, plan for the future and still have a technical platform for success.

To that end, the grid system tries to distil their writing towards clarity of thought and an appreciation of the 5 senses. I picture a teacher who walks into the class and the students are working in pairs to test one another’s spellings. A ‘mental challenge’ takes place, either written or oral, and a dictionary is used to find any new words occurring in the class that day. I cannot stress enough how important dictionary/thesaurus work is for the students, especially the weaker ones. Dictionary work (i.e. with regular prizes) will instil a love for ‘the bible of English’ and helps their alphabetical, verbal and neural pathways to flourish. The class then discusses the Latin quote and how relevant it may be to their development as students of life.

When the grids are filled in and the score is added up, the following ideas may be considered:

1) Make up a story using a specified number of words from the grid.

2) Make up a story using synonyms for the words in the grid (i.e. thesaurus work).

3) Use a ‘story-fizzer’ (page 22) to make up a plot involving the words in the grid.

4) Divide the class into 2/3 groups. Challenge them to build a rich plot using the words.

5) Use the whole class and create a ‘storychain’. Everyone has to contribute one sentence.

6) Make posters of the scene from the word grids. Attach herbs, spices and flowers to them.

7) Search Google for the scene that best captures the words in the grid. Then make a word cloud using words not mentioned in the grids.

8) Make up an imaginary dialogue between two people they can visualise in the scene.

9) Pick a word from the grid. Give the students 10 minutes in pairs or teams to see how many words they can make from it. can make 77 from the word ‘garden’!

10) Explore concepts of ‘rising tension’ and ‘climax’ by inserting a sinister character.

Finally, type in ‘Word Games’ to: for a fertile hunting ground of word games made up on worksheets. It gives a remarkable range of ideas and styles.

Date: __/__/__


Lesson number: 1

Definition: Dare to be wise.

­­­­­­­­­­Spelling revision

New words

Dictionary definitions, corrections and synonyms.





meaning extremely or a lot of (from Latin)






a bird


flock attacking you

the sun

an aeroplane

a kite

airplane with letters

the stars


a hang glider


the moon

a named star

a parachute

swan/herring gull

nothing-you’re blind

tsunami wave

a body falling

any blue adjective

world ending comet

nuclear mushroom

an alien spacecraft

super student ideas

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