In and Out of the Spotlight: An Activity for the Passive Voice

The source:

Celebrity photos will always be plentiful. You can find them at magazine newsstands or for free online. Many sites post photos weekly if not daily, and captions are always provided. Find a site that covers a range of famous people, such as OMG!

The format:

One option is for the teacher to use her computer and project one photo at a time onto a central screen for students to discuss. Another possibility is for students to work in pairs at computer stations. If computers are not available, you might print out a set of photos in advance. (Save them and reuse them for another activity in the future.)

The activity:

Let’s assume students are working in pairs in front of computers. Assign each pair a set of photos to work with. The students must decide if active sentences in the captions can be rewritten using the passive voice. If changes are possible and not awkward, they may do so and identify the change in focus.

Example:

June 18, 2009 (From OMG.Yahoo.com)

“Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt marked World Refugee Day by donating $1 million to a U.N. agency helping displaced Pakistanis and making media appearances to discuss the plight of refugees.”

= FOCUS: On Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

  • $1 million was donated to a U.N. agency by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt on World Refugee Day. The agency helps displaced Pakistanis. Jolie and Pitt also made media appearance to discuss the plight of refugees.

= FOCUS: On $1 million.

  • World Refugee Day was marked by a $1 million donation from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The donation was given to a U.N. agency that helps displaced Pakistanis. Jolie and Pitt also made media appearance to discuss the plight of refugees.

= FOCUS: On World Refugee Day. / Donation.

 

VARIATION: In addition to making active sentences passive, students can try to make passive sentences active.

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