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Collaborative and Creative Writing: Island Escape

By Rizal Ali Nurdin, Indonesia

40 minutes

Lesson Plan


  1. Create groups of four or five students and ask them to sit together. 

  2. Distribute a sticker or small piece of paper to every student. Ask each student to independently draw an object that is important to them. Tell students they can draw any object except for smartphones and money. Remind students that people and concepts are not objects.

  3. Ask students to share their objects with their groups. Students should explain why the objects they drew are important to them. For example, “I drew a pillow because I like to take naps.”

  4. Tell the students that last month, they were able to go on a free vacation trip. Give groups a few minutes to discuss where they went on their vacation.  

  5. Explain dramatically, “On the way to your vacation destination, there was a storm and your ship sank in the ocean! When you woke up, you were on a small deserted island. The only things you had on the island were each other and your group members’ objects.” 

  6. Distribute a piece of paper to each group. Explain, “Please write a short past tense narrative describing how you escaped from the island using your objects.” Ask students to put their stickers on the paper and write their sentences underneath. 

  7. Ask groups to present their island escape stories. 


  • Model each step, starting with the drawing of an important object. These multi-stepped activities can be challenging for students so it is crucial to give your own examples along the way. 

  • This version practices past tense narratives, but you can always adjust the activity to review other language objectives. For example, “If you had these objects, how would you escape the island?” This would review conditional. 

  • Island Escape gives students opportunities to improve their communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Do not rush the process. Give them sufficient time to work through their challenges. 


Teacher: Rizal Ali Nurdin, Indonesia

Rizal is an English teacher at Al-Mukhtar School in Bandung. He graduated from UIN Malang with a degree in English Education. He has traveled with Mangrove Education across Java and Kalimantan.

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