Here's how to take a really simple lesson plan for conversation and basic tense (present perfect & past simple) and question practice and make it more involving and challenging.
I took the original lesson idea from http://www.eslpartyland.com/teachers/conversation/findout.htm and it is perfectly good in its basic form. Essentially you give each student a list of things (see below) and they divide into pairs to ask questions about each other, find out which ones the other student has done then ask follow up questions about them. At the end the class reports on interesting findings and the teacher can board some corrections.
This is a simple and effective lesson when you have a large group of students. How about a small group or when you have a one to one lesson? What about more advanced students? Fancy spicing up the challenge?
Find out if your partner:
• has had a problem with the police
• has almost died
• has fired someone (or contributed to someone being fired).
• has met a famous person
• has had a frightening experience on an aeroplane
• has tried an unusual sport or hobby
• has shouted at their boss
• has fallen in love with a person they could not have
• has been on a terrible or embarrassing date
• has gotten a tattoo
• has performed a daredevil act
• has backpacked in a foreign country
• has been to a gay bar
• has eaten something disgusting
• has won something (for example, the lottery. a contest)
• has had a romantic relationship with someone in their office/workplace
All you need to do is pass out the list statements above. I added a few business themed ones but otherwise it's pretty stock. Each student gets a copy of the list. Quickly run through to check understanding of vocabulary (daredevil usually comes up and I often have to remind them that GOING on a date is romantic) and then stop. Tell them that, on average, people have done 50% of these things and that they shouldn't tell anyone what they have already done.
We run through the Have You Ever...question format and then follow up to make sure they are ready to switch to past tense for follow up questions. We usually brainstorm and board some basic question words to help us out later on.
Then I sell them into the lesson by telling them we
Step 1 - Ask a have you ever question.
Step 2 - The person says Yes, I have.
Step 3 - Ask past questions to try and figure out if they are lying or not.
The fun part then becomes people getting creative with telling their real life stories or with their lies to try to make everyone else believe what they are saying. Once you've gone around and asked a good number of questions (say 6-8) then you can guess if it's true, false or partly true. The person then reveals their answer and we find out how good they are at storytelling or lying.
I prefer this way of doing the lesson to the original because I teach small groups (max 5-6) at the moment and it gives a good chance to correct forms as you hear the mistakes and people can work as a group to prompt and think of new questions. If the group gets towards the maximum size or you are dealing with larger groups it may be better to split into pairs or threes so that people have more time to speak. I'd still go with the lying option and maybe mix up the groups once or twice depending how long your lesson is. You can then get back together for a group review plus a list of the best/worst liars in the classroom.
Also, for fun, I have everyone count up how many are actually true for them and then that person can be labelled the most interesting/craziest depending on the group.
I often put this kind of fun or funny twist into my lessons so that people come out feeling like they had a good time while learning English. The more people genuinely enjoy what you do while learning, the more repeat business and recommendations you will receive. If you get stuck, look at how much fun the dogs above are having. Try to replicate that in your classroom and make your students love coming to English with you :-)
All the best
PS: I've done all but two of the Have You Ever items on the list above. Any guesses which ones are false? ;-)