Is failure always bad?

Is failure always a bad thing? I think we all know the answer to that. However, whether consciously or unconsciously, the fear of failure might be telling us a lot about who we are and how we can turn that fear into a constructive element in our lives. If you are in the mood for an introspective discussion, watch author Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray, Love”) talk about what failure has done for her.

Do a tell back of the main points in Gilbert’s presentation.

Are there elements in Gilbert’s presentation that relate to your life?

Do you have successes and failures that have marked your life?

How have your successes and failures defined your path? In other words, where might you be today if things were different?

Do you have an activity that you love more than anything that transcends the need to succeed or the fear of failure?

Why do humans treat their pets like human beings?

Why do humans treat their pets like human beings? Yep, I’m guilty of that sometimes. And why wouldn’t I? Sometimes my dog is nicer to me that my children are. This phenomena is called anthropomorphism and there are many reasons we do this.

Somehow the relationship with a pet is a more intuitive and perceptually deeper. Since they don’t have words to tell us what they really think , we use empathy to ‘read’ them. And since animals are very good at picking up our vibes, it feels like they understand us better than our human counter parts.

I think it is normal to appreciate this, but do you think that showering them with treats and love and affection is good for them? It is also normal to want to give our pets a good life, but what should that really look like?

Pre discussion

  • What do pets bring to our lives?
  • How would you describe a healthy pet-owner relationship?
  • Some vocabulary:
    • pampered
    • appealling
    • mischievous
    • bond and bonding
    • alleviate stress
    • Behaviour

Video and Article: New York Times Why Humans Treat Their Dogs Like People

Discussion

  • Do a Mind Map of the main points of the video
  • Who is Tinker Bell?
  • Why does Annie Grossman think anthropomorphizing animals is problematic?
  • What did B.F. Skinner do to help us understand behaviour?
  • Is anthropomorphizing animals a northern hemisphere phenomena? How do you view animals in your culture?

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Are you a “multipotentialite”? Wait? What

Is it possible that we don’t have one true calling? That we have more than one talent? One gift? That is the question that Emilie Wapnick asks her TED audience. She is a self proclaimed “multipotentialite” which is to say, she has many potential careers and gifts.

I must say I got a little emotional watching this talk. I too am someone who is constantly looking for my one true thing only to feel disappointed in myself when I get interested in something new. It is a very freeing concept that my students loved to talk about…

Pre discussion

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • If it changed, why did it change?
  • Why is it ok for children to have many career paths, but adults must chose one?

The Video

Watch the video and gather some of the main themes and points.

Post Video Discussion

First do a Tell Back.

  • Do you see yourself in Emilie’s concept of mulitipotentialite?
  • What are the advantages of exploring all our interests?
  • What are the multipotentialite’s “super powers”?
  • How are those skills relevant in today’s job market?

Have a good discussion!

Are you protected from identity theft?

Are you protected from identity theft? It’s a scary thought really because my own personal answer is: I don’t know. I change my passwords regularly, I back up my computer, I don’t open any emails that ask me to give my personal information, and I never, repeat never, give my password to anyone. But is that enough?

Pre discussion

  • Have you or someone you know had problems with having your identity compromised?
  • What do you do to protect your identity?

The Video: Pattie Lovett-Reid: Tips For Preventing Identity Theft


Discussion

  • According to Lovett-Reid, when is your personal information most vulnerable?
  • What are some of her tips?
  • What are some of the things we should be aware of?
  • What are some of the first things you should do if you think your identity is compromised?

I don’t mean to scare anyone, but the more we talk about it, the better prepared we can be.

 

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What kind of music improves your mood?

Ever get in the car and suddenly a tune comes on that just takes you right out of your thoughts and makes you break into song? Or perhaps you drift into fantasy land and pump out an awesome guitare solo…leaving you to feel like a master of skill…powerful. Or perhaps you can remember cueing up a classic breakup song and let yourself cry all your tears after a separation.

Yes music can do all that. In fact some studies have shown that music can have profound effects on your brain chemistry and your overall well being.

In this article by Thrive Global Mayo Osin, looks at how music can impact your mood.

Pre discussion

  • What kind of music do you like?
  • What music puts you in a good mood?
  • What music puts you in a bad mood?

The article: The Science of How Music Affects Your Productivity

  • Do a Mind Map of all the elements and words associated to music, mental health and productivity.
  • What kind of music enhances productivity? What music reduces productivity? Why?
  • What are the differences between introverted and extraverted people with regards to music and memory?
  • What types of music should you listen to?

 

What do you worry…? Preposition Practice

Prepositions can be a bit nebulous to second language learners. Yet they do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to meaning. So in many cases, it’s important to get it right. Here is a very short activity that requires the participants to complete the questions with the correct preposition. BUT after the exercise is complete, you can use the questions for a general discussion…double whammy.

Also, if as a teacher you need to get your head around explaining prepositions, this Khan academy presentation breaks it down a little. This is not material I would use with a student, but I thought it was interesting to freshen up my grammar knowledge and get a bit of the method behind the preposition madness. So to speak.

Meet the Preposition

 

Would you like to visit Mars?

Would you like to visit Mars? At one time this would have been a question to engage in hypothetical thinking, but now, it could be a real possibility. According to the Washington Post, NASA expects that trips to Mars may be possible in the next 20 to 25 years. In fact, they have launched an exciting competition calling companies, universities and anybody to build models of habitats for Mars.

And if you were to go, what would you bring? Some baggies to collect Mars sand? A good pair of shoes? Camera (of course)? It is an interesting thought to play with. Thus in this post I am referencing the Washington Post article Where to stay on Mars? Robots could create living quarters before humans arrive. The article is featured in the Kids Post, so the vocabulary is relatively simple. And the subject matter may spark some interesting discussion about basic needs, isolation, and exploration.

Pre discussion

  • Would you like to go to Mars? Why?
  • What do you think it will be like? Dry, hot, cold, lonely, weird, exciting?

The article: Washington Post Where to stay on Mars?

Questions

  • To get the gist of the article, do a series of Tell Backs for each section
  • What are some of the things that have to be planned in order to make this possible (food, habitat, etc…)?
  •  What is the habitat competition all about?
  • What kind of entertainment would you bring if you were to stay a year?
  • What would you put in your suitcase?
  • How do you think visiting Mars will change life on Earth?

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Have a good trip!

 

When you speak, do people listen?

When you speak, do you think people listen to you? Do you think they understand–that they hear you? Ever watch a speech by former President Barak Obama? I just can’t stop listening. However, when my husband gives me the run down of the daily news, most times I totally tune out.

Why is that? According to Julian Treasure, there are many different aspects to a successful speaker ranging from tone of voice to subject matter. His TED talk presents some of the communication approaches that shut people down and those that open people up.

It is a talk that explores both the behavioural and mechanical aspects of speaking that I find rather interesting. Perhaps you and your students will too.

Pre discussion

  • Name some of the people you love to listen to
  • Why do you like them?
  • Name some people you tend to tune out of.

The Video: TED Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen

  • What are some of the behaviours or approaches that make listeners tune out?
  • What are some of the tools in Treasure’s tool box?
  • Do a little analysis of yourself. Which behaviours do you have that may put your listeners off?
  • Do you use/have some of Treasure’s tools already?
  • What could you adopt that may enhance your speaking without making yourself seem unnatural?
  • Do you have any anecdotes of good and bad speakers (e.g. teachers, parents, bosses, etc…)

Legends Only

What makes good art?

What makes good art? If you have a few art lovers in your class, I think they will enjoy this lesson.

Does an artist have to suffer to make good art? Is it the amount of time one spends on the piece?  The complexity, the skill of the artist, the message, the feeling it creates…what?

I am always fascinated when I watch my children draw or make crafts. They dive in with their whole being–fearless. They never doubt their ability to produce or that the result will be great.  On the other hand, I am not submitting every piece to the Smithsonian…

So between the fearless child, to the tortured soul, what makes a piece of art great? In this PBS series the Art Assignment, they explore many of the stereotypes we attach to the “true” artist and they challenge some of the values we attach to quality. But better still, they talk about how, regardless of the process, art can make us feel less alone in the complex journey of being human.

Pre discussion

  • Do you go to museums or buy books to look at art?
  • What kind of art do you like?
  • What are some artist you know

The Video: PBS The Truth of the Tortured Artist

If you find this video a little fast or vocabulary dense, don’t forget that you can add CC (close captions) to help comprehension and you can slow the video down in the YouTube settings

Discussion

  • I would cut the video into parts and do Tell Backs on each. I would take notes on key vocabulary.
    • Part 1 from 0 to 1:07
    • Part 2 from 1:07 to 2:10
    • Part 3 from 2:10 to 3:45
    • Part 4 from 3:45 to 4:30 (on Picasso)
    • Part 5 from 4:30 to 4:45 (on Frida Kahlo)
    • Part 6 from 4:45 to 6:45 (on art as an outlet for pain)
    • Part 7 from 6:45 to end (what are some of the purposes of art?)
  • Do you think an artist has to anguish over a piece for it to be good. Or is it more a question of skill and craft (in the other words being very good at what they do)?
  • What are some of the states of mind art can come from?
  • If I could grant you all the skills you need to be an artist, why would you make art?

Let me know how it goes…

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Are you a procrastinator or a planner?

Are you a procrastinator or a planner? That is the question. Personally I am a planner. I get a sense of what needs to be done, break it down into task and plan it out so that I can do it before the deadline. I think that is largely due to the fact that being dyslexic, I need time to review. But that is certainly not true for everyone. In fact, Miles Bess exposes that up to 95% of people consider themselves to be procrastinators. That’s huge! I had no idea.

So let’s talk about this…

Pre discussion

  • Do you wait t’ill the late minute to do things or do you plan ahead?
  • What benefits do you get out of being one or the other?

The Video: PBS  Above the Noise: Can Procrastination Be a Good Thing?

Questions

  • Why do you think so many people procrastinate?
  • What are the pros and cons of procrastination?
  • What famous people or documents were made last minute?
  • Can you explain ‘task-driven’ and ‘deadline driven’
  • What are some of your procrastination ‘go-to’s’ (e.g. video games, eating, shopping, etc.)
  • What advice would you give the procrastinator?
  • What advice would you give the planner?

Hope you have fun with this lesson…