Walton Burns

United States - Connecticut
Walton Burns
277 votes
"I make kids wonder, I make them question. I make them criticize." - Taylor Mali, What Teachers Make
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This complete Halloween writing lesson plan uses the genre-based approach to writing to teach students how to write a scary story. The genre-approach starts with having students look at examples of the target writing genre (in this case, scary
5 ratings
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One of my best-selling Clue by Clue Activities, with a Halloween twist. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In this fun mystery activity, students investigate who stole a bag of candy from a trick or
6 ratings
Digital Download PDF (0.61 MB)
One of my best-selling Clue by Clue Activities, with a Halloween twist. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In this fun mystery activity, students investigate who stole a bag of candy from a trick or treater.
2 ratings
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A basic gapfill or cloze exercise for the song, "This is Halloween" from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton. The gaps focus on Halloweeny words. I've also included the complete lyrics. I use this as a warm up or introduction for
2 ratings
Digital Download PDF (0.48 MB)
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a great introduction to Halloween traditions like trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, and even scaring people. Beyond that, the movie raises questions of why we tell children stories about
1 rating
Digital Download PDF (0.49 MB)
This is my tried and true go-to warm up activity for teaching EFL students about Halloween. I've found even when I'm teaching in international contexts, my students know something about Halloween from TV and movies. This easy activity gives them
1 rating
Digital Download PDF (0.55 MB)
One of my best-selling Clue by Clue Activities, with a Halloween twist. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In this fun logical puzzle mystery game, students investigate who killed a party-goer
4 ratings
Digital Download PDF (0.30 MB)
This bundle contains all of my holiday clue by clue activities. It's 4 mysteries (5 files since one mystery also comes in PowerPoint) for the price of 3. This bundle contains the following mysteries and resources. Click on each for a detailed
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Walton Burns is a teacher and award-winning materials writer from Connecticut who began his career in 2001, teaching in the Peace Corps in the South Pacific. Since then, he has taught in Central Asia and in his native country. His students have been a diverse group, including Russian oil executives, Afghan high school students, and Chinese video game champions. As a writer, he has been on the author team of two textbooks and written lesson plans and activities for private language schools. He is currently chair of the Materials Writing Interest Section of the TESOL Association, the international association for English language professionals. For more information, including projects he has worked on, go to his blog at English Advantage and his portfolio site.

Editorial Work

  • Co-author, Hang Out! by Compass Publishing. General ESL textbook for primary school students
  • Author, Inside Writing, a genre-based writing course book for Oxford University Press.
  • Grammar Editor, MasterMind series by Macmillian
  • Extensive materials development and course design for online schools, including Really English/New Horizons.
  • Assessment writing for OUP, Pearson, and SLTI.


I truly believe that communication is the goal of language teaching. Grammar is a toolbox to help students express themselves, not rules that need to be memorized. Vocabulary is a palette for students to work with creatively, not a list of words to be memorized. That's not to say that drilling and grammar banging don't have their place, but I teach for those moments when a student spontaneously expresses him or herself using new language and doesn't even realize it because he or she is so caught up in the conversation.


  • 3rd place, BESIG and Cambridge University Press Lesson Plan Contest.
  • Winner, One Stop English Lesson Share.


  • BA from Sarah Lawrence College.
  • MA in International Development from The Heller School, Brandeis University
  • TESOL Core Certificate, TESOL, Inc.
  • 12 Credits toward an MA in TESOL from Adelphi University.


  • Chair of the Materials Writer Interest Section of TESOL, Inc.
  • Freelance materials writer and editor for Pearson, Macmillan, OUP, Compass Publishing, and several international online schools.
  • Frequent Co-Moderator of the EVO: Creating the ePerfect eBook, a Massive Open Online Course on publishing educational materials online.
  • Blog at:English Advantage

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