Blog Archives

Dexter’s Routine. Video Lesson Plan

Are you a fan of Dexter series? Is it worth watching? I’ve never seen it. However, I’ve found two videos on You Tube that are just perfect for an activity revising present simple for routines. First, let’s watch the videos, and start racking your brains to see what we can do with them…

The first thing that got to my mind when I watched them was: collaborative viewing. I’m sure you all know this activity, but it’s sometimes good to revisit old activities. I thought that students could work in pairs. One is watching the first video, and the other one is with his back to the screen. The first one has to retell what’s going on in the video, while the other one takes down notes. The objective would be to write Dexter’s morning routine. Then, they exchange roles to watch the second video. This time they would write the girl’s night routine.

This was the first idea that came to my mind. However, I believe there are plenty more things we can do with these two videos, since they are so visual. Why not sharing your ideas? We’d all be very grateful…

 

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Unheard Voices

I’m writing this post in response to @kalinagoenglish challenge presented in her blog. You can read my answer to the previous challenge here.

Providing space for the learners’ voice means

accepting that the learners’

beliefs

knowledge

experiences

concerns

& desires

are valid content in the language learning classroom.

In the answers to this challenge we have heard the voices of  two teachers having a conversation , one teacher singing and we have talked and discussed thoroughly about the need to let our students take control of their learning, and the importance of listen to their voices and adapt our classes to cater for their interests, likes and dislikes. However, what should we do when our learners are reluctant to have such an active role in our classroom? What do we do with shy students? Shall we push them to take part or let them be?Apparently, as David R Hall says, students know what their own needs and interests are. So, if what they want is to have a passive role in our classes, why not let them?. I don’t have the answers to these questions, the only thing I can share with you are two examples of this situation that I have in my classes.

Case 1:

I have one student, who speaks very little in her every day life. In the past, she didn’t use to speak at all (obviously she has some kind of psychological problem). However, what really surprises me about her,  is that even though you may think that she is not at all present in class ( one hardly ever gets to hear  her voice), she does all the written activities perfectly well. She succeds at writing letters, doing grammar exercises, passing the written tests, etc. I sometimes wonder if she is happy in her silent world. Shall I leave her like that or shall I try to make her talk? I sometimes even feel sad, because I consider that I’m excluding her in some way, since I don’t ask her questions as I do with the rest of my students, because I believe she will feel unconfortable. Is it right? Or should I have continued addressing her till the moment she decides to interact with me and the rest of the class? Don’t really know.

Case 2:

This is the girl that has refused to take part in the activity I have discussed in my post “The importance of reflection” This is a totally different case from the previous one. She is an excellent student, very good at speaking, very fluent. However, she always place safe. She just answer whatever she is asked, but never enlarge on the topic. She wants to be as unpercievable as possible. For example, once the class had to be divided in different groups and for that reason, we were making a kind of raffle with their names to make the groups. Each student at a time had to take a piece of paper and read the name on it. When her turn came, she refused to take a paper. It was really unbeliavable, as she would not be compromised in any way by choosing one piece of paper. Her classmates tried to convince her, but she didn’t change her mind. If she refuses to “become active” even in the less demanding activities, how can I expect her to express her ideas and interests in front of the class? Or is it that she is being an autonomous learner and expressing the way in she wants to learn (with a more traditional approach, in which she is not required to take such an active role)? Difficult question to answer.

Well, as you can see I have too many questions and no answers at all. So I decided to conduct some research and stumbled upon a piece of advice that @thornburyscott was giving to an EFL teacher on the issue  at Onestopenglish. Scott gave some practical tips and finally concluded that:

If all else fails, you can take heart from a piece of classroom research conducted by Dick Allwright several years ago, in which he observed a class for a term and noted that, despite the highly interactive nature of the lessons, there was one student who hardly ever participated in group or class speaking activities. However, at the end of the course she scored as highly, if not more highly, than her peers on several measures of proficiency, including speaking! Allwright concluded that “for some students at least, learning a second language is a spectator sport”.

What do you think? I’m not totally convinced, but who knows… maybe those unheard voices are claiming us to let them be.

Bunny Chow (Traditional South African Dish)

Today, I’m sharing with you a short activity I’m planning to do as part of my world cup project with my 5º grade students. In this activity, students will learn how to prepare Bunny Chows, a very traditional dish from South Africa.

They will have to watch the following video from You Tube and complete the activities you will find below.

1) Write down the missing ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 loaf of b_ _ _ _

Chop O _ _ _ _ _                         20 g

T _ _ _ _ _  Puré                         300 g

S _ _ _

R_ _   Chilli

R _ _  Chilli Powder

G _ _ _ _ _                                 50 g

G _ _ _ _ _                                 50 g

2 ) Complete with the appropriate words:

CUT     BLENDER   FRENCH FRIES    GARNISH    MIX   FRY

First, _____________ the onions.

Put two spoons of Yoghurt and the onions in the _____________

Fry and __________ in a frying pan the ginger, the garlic, the tomato puré, the red chillis and  some salt. Let them cook for some minuter.

___________ the inside part of the bread and place the mixture inside it. ___________ it with some chop onions and chillis. Accompany it with _____________________.

Hope you use it in your classes. Please, share your experience with it  and more ideas on how to exploit the world cup tournament.

Robots Lesson Plan

With my second grade students we are doing a thematic project on toys. As in the last classes we’ve been talking about robots, I’ve decided to prepare a lesson plan on the trailer of the film “Robots”.

I started the class by asking them if they had seen the film. As most of them answered yes, I asked them how many characters there were in the film, if they remembered their names, their colours and what they can do.

After that, we watched the trailer. They were supposed to count how many robots appeared.

After watching it, I asked them: Can the robots talk, sing, walk, take photos, kick, read, cook? Then, we watched it a second time and I stopped the video each time a new robot was introduced. I questioned them:

What colour is it? Is it a boy or a girl? Is it tall or short? Is it fat or thin? Is it beautiful or ugly?

Finally, I gave each of the students a picture of one of the robots. They had to colour it and complete the sentences about it. You can download the worksheet here.

The following class, my students in groups created their own robots. They made a poster in which they draw them and wrote similar sentences about them.

Hope you find it useful and if you use it in your classes share your experience with us.  I would also love to get more ideas on how to work with this topic in my class. Thanks in advance!

Lesson Plan: “Strategies for learning new vocabulary with Avatar film”

Cameron’s film Avatar is in everybody’s mouth at the moment. For that reason, we can take the opportunity and bring it into the classroom, to teach our students in a fun way, how to use   context clues  when reading to infer new vocabulary. This is a useful tool all students need to know for autonomous reading and expansion of vocabulary.

The lesson plan starts with a listening activity based on the film’s trailer, in which students will be able to appreciate the wonderful “natural” world Cameron’s team has created for the occasion.

Then, they will reflect about the strategies we can use when reading a text to infer the meaning of new words from the context. They will apply this to discover the meaning of some words in a text adapted from the New York Times about the Na´vi language (a language created for the aliens in the film to speak).

They will finally listen to an extract in  Na´vi language to reflect upon the strategies we can use for understanding oral material in a foreign language.

I really hope you like this lesson plan and you have a lot of fun with your students. Don’t forget to comment on how it goes.

Lesson Plan: “A reflection on Haiti Crisis”


It’s been a long time since my last post because I’ve been away on holidays. But now I’m back in Buenos Aires and about to start a new-working-year. Trying to find a topic to talk about in my in-company classes, Haiti crisis came to my mind. It is  an issue that is currently everywhere. For that reason, I have prepared a lesson plan to reflect about the gap that exists between developing and third world countries and how this affects their ability to react when a crisis, a natural disaster, etc strikes them. I have based my lesson plan on an article from the New York Times called “Earth Science Meets Social Science” and a video called “Haiti’s Legacy of Environmental Disaster”. Here you will find the lesson plan: Feeling Vulnerable Lesson Plan.

I hope you find it useful and feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, criticisms or whatever you feel like it.

How to download You Tube videos.

I’m writing this post in answer to Larisa Bezrukova’s comment in the Monsters Inc. post. First, I’m going to tell you how I do it. Maybe it’s not the best way, but I’m used to it. I have downloaded a programme called Real Player. Once you have installed it, whenever you find a video on the net, if  you place the  mouse cursor on it, a button will appear which says “Download video” (“Descargar este video” in my case). You click on it and Voila! you’ve got the video saved in your computer.

If you are not satisfied with that option, here you have a video Jamie Keddie has prepared. It is extremely clear. Have a look at it!

You may also have a look at Nancy Morales explanations. They are in Spanish but they are very easy to understand I believe.

If  you have any other idea, share it in the comments section. Remember that if you don’t have access to video in your classroom, there is also a way of just listening to the videos from you tube. For more information have a look at this post.

Monsters Inc. (Present Simple and Present Continuous)

As I have already told you in this post I love Claudio’s blog: Movie Segments to Asses Grammar Goals. I have been inspired by him so I will share with you one lesson plan I have prepared to revise the use of  Present Simple and Present Continuous. It is based on this scene from the movie Monsters Inc. You should start watching from minute 4:50 onwards :

And here go the activities:

1) Complete the sentences with the appropriate tense ( Present Simple and Present Continuous)

a)      Every day, Sulley _______________ (drive) to work. However, today they ____________ (walk)

b)      Right now, Mike _______________ (talk) to Sulley’s mum on the phone.

c)      Afterwards, they often ______________ (watch) tv, but today they __________ (also / star) on a tv commercial.

d)      Sulley and Mike _____________ (not exercise) together. Sulley ______ (do) his routine and Mike __________ (guide) him.

e)      Then, Sulley always ______________ (brush) his teeth.

f)        Sulley usually ____________ (get up) at 6:00 but today he ____________ (still/ sleep) at 6:05.

2) Watch the film and put the sentences in the correct order.

3) Write 5 sentences about what the monsters Sulley and Mike encounter on their way to work are doing at the moment.

4) Did you like the scene? Why (not)?

Hope you like it and find it useful. If you have used it, please share your experience with us. If you have more ideas to work with this particular film or with movies in general, don’t hesitate to share your views.

The Lazy Way to Planning Lessons with Films ( Part 2)

imagesI have already posted about the advantages of teaching with films in this post. However, all the pages I have found in that occasion were commercial ones. FIRST PAY and then get the lesson plan. Fortunately, yesterday I  read a twit about two wonderful blogs with loads of lesson plans based on films. And what is more: they are free. I love this initiatives of collaborative learning in which we all get a benefit.

Well, let’s go to the point. The two blogs were created by Claudio Azevedo.  He introduces himself in his blog saying “I’m a teacher at Casa Thomas Jefferson, Brasilia, Brazil. I’m a Branch Coordinator and Teacher Trainer as well. I really like movies and seeing them with “different” eyes, trying to see how I can use them in my classroom.” Apart from that, he discusses the advantages of teaching English with films in this post.  What I like the most about his blogs is that he doesn’t only share the lesson plans, but he also gives tips on how to create our own lesson plans.

Well, by this point you must be all willing to know the addresses of his blogs. The first older one is ” Movie segments to assess grammar goals”.  It cointains a series of movie segments and activities to assess or practice grammar points through fun, challenging exercises. The new one, which is only one week old, is “Movie segments for Warm-ups and follow-ups”. The lesson plans found here are to be used to brainstorm, warm up, follow up, and activate schemata, preparing the students for the topic that will be discussed in class.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope you find it as useful as I had and please Claudio, keep up the great job you are doing. If you have a good lesson plan to share don’t hesitate to contact me or Claudio,  and we would be glad to publish it in our blogs.

My First Online Exercise

You might be surprised at this! A great lover of the net has never prepared an online exercise. Well, it is said that there is a first time for everything and here’s my first experience!

Before sharing with you my first creation, I would like to introduce you to the webpage where I have placed my exercise. ESL printables is a great website created by Víctor Gayol an English language teacher in Spain. In his website English language teachers exchange resources: worksheets, lesson plans,  activities, etc. Their collection is growing every day with the help of many teachers. If you want to download you have to send your own contributions. I have found wonderful material there, and of course I have made my own contributions too. I strongly recommend it.

And here goes MY online exercise. The episode of  “Shaun the sheep” called “Still Life” is a great video to use with kids. It is mute, but they can practise farm animals, colours, numbers, parts of the day, sad, happy, angry. Hope you like it. Have a look at it and please leave your comments. All your opinions are  welcomed!