“Crossword Work” by the artist Nancy Holt

This picture is not a classroom activity, it’s not actually a crossword puzzle at all, but was produced by American artist Nancy Holt as a response to the sculpture below, Metronomic Irregularity I by Eva Hesse.

John Henry likes this “crossword” for a number of reasons:

1) It’s not perfect – The words jump out as a comment on the tangled, chaotic nature of the sculpture; words like “abstraction”, “detour”, “off-centre”, or “eccentric”, and some are not words at all as far as we can see. So if a work of art in a museum can be imperfect, then so can our students feel free to experiment, and take detours.

2) The words are art – so they call for a personal response; do you like them? John remembers being surprised when he first came across a coursebook activity simply asking students to “choose which words you like and which ones you don’t”, but that personal response to the language is important for learning, for motivation. So it’s fine to look at words just to choose the ones we like best. This could be in texts, in lists, in word clouds, or set out in puzzles like this.

3) The randomness of the words make them a flexible jumping off point for a number of activities.

Also it looks like a crossword puzzle but it’s not. It’s good to throw surprises at your students sometimes, to play with their expectations and keep them awake, even in a small way like giving them a wordsearch that looks like a crossword puzzle. But we’re not going to do that to you today so here’s a real crossword. We used http://www.crosswordpuzzlegames.com/create.html to create this. All the answers can be found on this blog and the first five correct answers e-mailed to istanbul@cambridge.org will win a book of your choice from Cambridge ELT.

(extra clue – number nine begins with ‘f’, and number 14 with ‘c’.

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About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to istanbuljohnm@hotmail.co.uk.
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