Feel like going to the movies? As art imitates life, movies are a great way to take you out of your reality and plunge you into someone else’s. Let’s go take a look at the Rotten Tomatoes reviews to see what picks our fancy.
The site features both trailers and written reviews. It’s up to you how you want to fuel the vocabulary for this lesson.
What are some of your favorite movies?
What genre do you like most?
The site: Rotten Tomatoes
Scan the titles and have participants pick one and say why (other than “it looks interesting”)
Go to the description, at the bottom, and do a quick Tell Back of the summary, pulling out key vocabulary.
Watch the trailer. Make a list of actions you see.
Describe the characters. What makes them interesting.
A popular North American celebration, February 14th is the day for lovers. For me, it is a day filled with pressure and lack of inspiration. Yes, you heard me, I just don’t know what to do on Valentin’s Day.
Thus since this celebration is a little weird in my view, here is some weird stuff to look at and talk about
Do you have Valentin’s Day, or the equivalent in your culture?
What do you do?
A video: Here is what the birds do
Describe the actions in this video
What are some of the “messages” this bird is trying to send?
Video: And another just for fun…
Describe the actions in this video
An article–Forbes on the expense associated to Valentin’s Day
Summarize the main points of this article
Why is Valentin’s Day costing us more?
Do you think it is money well spent?
Do you make a point of spending time with your spouse?
TED features Joachim de Posada’s presentation of the famous “marshmallow” test done children. It is a test that claims to predict the success of those children through their ability to delay gratification.
I won’t go into great detail about the test because the video only last about 5 min. I will say this, although this test makes me feel a little uncomfortable, I think it makes an interesting discussion.
Do you consider yourself a patient person?
What things or events in your life have you had to wait for?
What stories or anecdotes from your life show how you are patient or impatient?
The video: Don’t eat the marshmallow by Joachim de Posada TED
How did the video of the children make you feel?
How did the children act around the marshmallow?
If it were you, would you have eaten it? Why?
Why do you think it is important to be able to delay gratification?
What do you think Posada means by “we are eating more marshmallows that we produce?”
We live in a fast paced world with all kinds of conveniences. Food taking a huge chunk of the convenience market, many foods are processed and packaged to serve. If food and nutrition are a topic of interest to you and your students, you might find this National Geographic article about Henry Heinz rather interesting.
What concerns do you have about food?
What do you look for when you read the labels on packaged foods?
What are your ‘rules of thumb’ when food shopping?
The article: How Henry Heinz used ketchup to improve food safety
I am an amateur rock climber…very amateur. It’s not for everyone, I know. But what is interesting about rock climbing is it puts you smack in the middle of a discussion between your “afraid self” and your “courageous self”. Alex Honnold, famed for climbing Yosemite’s El Capitain without ropes, candidly talks about this discussion and how he talked his “afraid self” into trust.
There is a fine line between fear being a wise consultant and an insecure mother. And many athletes have died by choosing wrong. I am sharing this TED talk more because I am fascinated by Honnold’s composure, discipline and wisdom. What’s more, I think there is an interesting Honnold sets a context for a very different type of discussion about fear.
Have you ever done anything that made you afraid?
How did you overcome your fear?
What are risks worth taking?
The Video: TED with Alex Honnold
What are all the elements that Honnold does to prepare for this feat (do a Mind Map)?
What did he do to overcome his fears?
Why was he not satisfied after he completed his climb?
It is an age old discussion. What are the differences between men and women? Biologist Karissa Sanbonmatsu presents some of the new discoveries from epigenetics and research in DNA that explain the differences between men and women from a biological perspective. This is a science based lesson plan with tons of scientific vocabulary to describe how DNA works to create gender differences.
Sanbonmatsu, a transgender scientist, also talks about the challenges she faced in her scientific community given her struggle with her own identity. This content is layered and complex. On one hand the objective is to help science-based students become more verbal with DNA related vocabulary–an important corner stone topic for biologists. But beyond that, the speaker pulls in the social challenges of the “old boys club” that exists in the scientific community.
What are some of the theories you have heard about the differences between men and women?
Do you think there are differences?
The Video: The Biology of Gender
There are really two aspects in this video mashed up together. 1) Sanbonmatsu shares the science of gender. 2) Sanbonmatsu talks about the reactions of her scientific community, thus the social issues surrounding transgenderism in various communities.
I would first untangle each aspect.
What does the latest research tell us about gender?
What is the behaviour of our DNA?
How is Sanbonmatsu contributing to a society of tolerance inclusion?
Why does Sanbonmatsu expose the scientific community as being especially hard on her choices?
Do you think there are other social circles where transgenderism is more difficult?
What about less difficult?
I leave you with that for the weekend…have a good one.
I love talking about the weather. It is the single most easy way to initiate a conversation with a stranger or acquaintance if you need to break the silence. Great for elevator rides, spontaneous waiting time and warm repartee.
This particular discussion lesson plan on the weather goes from general to scientific. The objective is to elicit some scientific vocabulary around a familiar topic. If you have no scientists among your students, you can always focus on the important of predicting the weather. And also the importance of being able to talk about the weather as a conversation starter.
What are the different types of weather or climate you can name?
What affects the weather?
Do you use the weather forecast to plan activities?
The Video: The Science of Weather
Divide the video into 2 or 3 segments and do a Tell Back of the main themes and words
How do meteorologists sort through information, identify trends, and make predictions.
I know, I know…it’s a cliché to talk about new year’s resolutions in January, but I think it still makes for a good introspective discussion. And if you angle it right, you are creating a great natural context to use the past and futur tense.
Did you know that January comes from the Roman God Janus. He had two faces: one facing back to reflect on the past and one facing forward to think about the future. Watch this PBS video snippet about why new years resolutions fail (3.22 min.):
It is a relatively short presentation so depending on the level of you students you could watch the whole thing or cut it up.
You could also warm up the discussion by making some guesses about why resolutions fail. What are some of the features of new years goals that make them difficult to achieve?
Video Comprehension Questions
First do a Tell Back of the video and write down all the key vocabulary and concepts.
Why do resolutions fail?
What are the “psychological traps” that make resolutions difficult?
Why can making resolutions be bad for us?
How can we make “smart” resolutions? In other words, what are the features of good resolutions?
What do you think about the presenters’ t-shirt (I threw that in just for fun)
What are some of the things to did last year that surprised you?
What obstacles did you overcome?
What were some changes that happened in you life?
What were some good books you read?
What are some things you would like to do this year?
Are there any changes you would like to make?
Anything you would like to learn?
What are your personal or professional goals?
If you want to do something a little different, you could also have students do a quick mind map of the year and talk about it after they get a few ideas down.
Have a great lesson!
I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for supporting eslconversation.ca and wish you a great year full of fruitful discussions. Discussion is the tie that bind us together and breaks isolation, depression and puts our ideas in the collective. Mel