Question of the day

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…

Bitmoji Image

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…

 

Are you media literate?

Are you media literate? When we hear the word literacy, generally our thoughts go to reading. But the idea of literacy encapsulates many different skills that we are now extending to many different areas.  For example, you can have financial literacy, digital literacy, ethical literacy, computational literacy and yes media literacy (and the list goes on).

Essentially, when you have reached a level of proficiency in an area where you are able to decode, analyse, see patterns, and spot errors, you have become literate in that area. The trend to view literacy as skill that extends beyond reading is a fairly recent one. Not so long ago, before the web took off, the flow of information would generally come from what was deemed reliable sources. We got your history lesson from a history teacher and our news from a trusted news sources. We didn’t really have to question or doubt (perhaps we should have).

But now that information can come from anywhere, it has become increasingly important to be critical and analytical. In other words, we all have to have the instincts of an expert. Radio personality Jay Smooth has  created a great YouTube series on probably the most important of the literacies: media literacy. See if you can scoop up some of the ideas he exposes and make a list of the tips he shares.

Pre discussion

Let’s play the good and bad game…go through the list of words and say whether they are good or bad:

  • Consuming media
  • Influence of media
  • Mass communication
  • Social media
  • Navigate media

The video: Introduction to Media Literacy by Jay Smooth

Smooth speaks very fast, and he goes very deep into ‘sociology speak’ so if you are working with lower intermediate students, I suggest you adjust the settings on YouTube to make the video slower and show the subtitles.

Also, I would stop the video at about 2 min (just after the definition of media literacy).

Doing this video requires a little teacher bravery, it’s fast and complex–but it’s also adult, current and intelligent. Remind your participants that the idea is to simply come away with the general concept, that they can deduce from context and perhaps try to recognize one or two new words.

  • What is media? Make a list
  • What is the difference between messages and effects?
  • Go to 5:25 of the video, watch the texting example.
  • Do you use emojis in your emails and texts? Do you have some signature emojis?
  • Have you ever sent a message that was mis-interpreted?

This is a vocabulary dense lesson, but it is true to native speaking. I believe it is important to expose students to this so they can develop skills and tricks for when this happens to them in real life. But like I said, it takes a little teacher bravery…let me know how it goes. 

 

 

 

 

 

Try something new for 30 days

Try something new for 30 days, is the topic of Matt Cutts’ TED talk.

We have all heard it before, we must step out of our comfort zone to grow…right? Cutt’s takes this to the next level with his self-imposed 30 day challenge. What I like about Cutt’s talk, is it gives a more tangible objective to this idea of trying new things.

Warm up

  • What new thing would you like to try but haven’t yet?
  • What does it mean to “step out of your comfort zone”?
  • What are the benefits of doing new things? Any disadvantages?
  • What are the benefits of sticking with what you know? Any disadvantages?

The Video: Try something new for 30 days

Why does Matt think this is a good idea?
What did it change in his life?
What areas of our lives could we apply this to? Make a Mind Map
Do you have any spontaneous ideas that you might like to try for 30 days?

If you had only one vacation destination, where would it be?

If you had only one vacation destination, where would it be?

What is it about this place that keeps you interested?

If you were the tour guide, what places, restaurants, shows, historical sites would you recommend?

Who would you take with you?

How is the food there?

How are the people?

Have we become too overprotective?

Have we become too overprotective of ourselves and our children?  For example, how old were you when you were first allowed to light a fire? My guess is you were a lot younger than what we would consider appropriate today. Perhaps being an information savvy generation may have also made us a risk weary generation.

I had the good fortune of having parents who believed in the value of getting dirty, getting bruised and cut and trying things that we probably wouldn’t allow our children to do today (like sitting on my grand-father’s lap while driving the car).

Today, we know more about sanitization, about common accidents, about abductions and attacks. We are quite risk aware–n’est-ce pas? But is this information empowering us or limiting us. Gever Tulley’s TED talk is entitled 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do. He has some pretty thought provoking ideas about what should be taught to children at quite early ages.

I think his talk makes for a good launch pad for a discussion on risk tolerance, over protectiveness and parenting. It also creates a natural context for comparing past and present (so a little added grammar focus).

Pre discussion

Discuss these terms…are they good or bad?

  • Risk
  • Over protective
  • Safety
  • Germs
  • Danger
  • Accidents
  • Bruises and scrapes
  • Creative

The video: TED Gever Tulley 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do

  • Do a Mind Map of the 5 things, put as many details as you can
  • Could you add to Tulley’s list?
  • Do you think you were overprotected, underprotected, or had the right combination of risk and safety?
  • Do you have memories from your childhood were you were allowed to take a surprising risk?
  • How did you feel? What did you learn?
  • Are there items in Tulley’s list that you would not do? Why?

I would love to be a fly on the wall during your discussion. Don’t hesitate to write to me…

How much to you know about Earth Day?

Looking for an earth day lesson plan? Look no further. The Washington Post for Kids published this fun trivia quiz that can conjure many side discussions on environmental issues.

Earth Day is a celebration that is intended to spark environmental awareness at all levels of society. Families, schools, communities and nations show their support of environmentally friendly actions and goals. I think we can all agree that being kind to mother nature is to everyone’s advantage. But in practice, it can sometimes be difficult to incorporate environmentally friendly habits.

I have resigned to think that this is more a process that a binary state (either you are or you’re not).  Yes there are the extreme “tree-huggers” as well as those who just don’t seem to care, but pointing fingers doesn’t help either way.  My motto is lead by example and don’t feel guilty about what you could be doing better and don’t look down on those who could be doing more.  That might sound a little wishy-washy, but I think it works.

Pre discussion 

  • Mind Map the following concept : lessen environmental footprint (good expression to explain)

The quiz: Washington Post How much do you know about Earth Day and the environment? 

  • Have the participants do the quiz in pairs. Encourage them to paraphrase the answers.

Discussion Questions:

  • What are some of the answers that surprise you?
  • How do you feel about the state of the environment?
  • What are some of the habits you have changed to lessen your environmental foot print?
  • Do you know of some easy actions that others may not know about?
  • What is you community doing?

Let me know how it goes…

 

 

What picture speaks to you?

In my opinion, photography is one of the most important inventions of the last century. The ability to record our past, slices of life, memories. Its impact on history and culture is so vast, it goes way beyond our little discussion circle.

ESL with pictures is probably one of my most powerful lessons. It doesn’t matter what level you students are at, a picture is bound to conjure some vocabulary

National Geographic is one of my “go to’s” when it comes to esl picture prompts. So many of their pictures give me pause. Either because of their beauty or what they tell.

Let’s dive right into this lesson and visit National Geographic’s Photo of the Day Archive…

  • Let the students pick a photo that they find interesting.
  • Have them describe it
  • Have the other student do a Power Listing exercise and ask the speaker at least one question or provide one comment about what was said.
  • You could also do a Q&A exercise where the student pick a picture in their minds and the others ask questions to try to discover which picture it is.

Let me know how it goes…

 

What bad habit would you like to break?

Why are bad habits so hard to break?

First, what are bad habits? A bad habit is a negative behaviour pattern–perhaps one that causes bodily harm. What about your daily glass of wine, you ask? If it is not causing any pain or putting your health at risk, I would not consider it a bad habit. If you drink a whole bottle, get sick and have trouble waking up in the morning, that may be a different story.

Without being too hard on ourselves, I’m sure we can think of at least one bad habit. Mine…I stress eat. When I get stressed, I feel hungry, crave sweets (I don’t even like sweets) and I’m always looking forward to my next meal.

But why?

The creators of ASAP Science YouTube channel look at bad habits from the scientific perspective. They explain why we feel the need to repeat behaviours.

Pre discussion

  • Mind Map a list of bad habits.
  • What are your bad habits?

The Video: How to Break Your Bad Habit

  • What are some of the bad habits mentioned in the video?
  • How much of our behaviour is done out of habit?
  • Can you explain “chunking”? What does it do for us?
  • Can you name the elements in the 3 step loop?
  • How can you change a habit?
  • Now think of your own bad habit…what do you think it provides for you? (e.g. a rest, socialization, a break from boredom, a break from stress, etc…)

Let me know how the discussions turn out. I love to hear from you.