Sharing …

Now I have to share the desk even more

shared by JunCTionS on flickr

I teach speaking classes with groups of teenagers at a local High School once a week.  There’s a team of us all doing the same thing and to cut down on our workload, and to offer continuity across the classes, we share lesson plans. We take it in turns to plan the lessons and all the groups at each level are taught from the same plan.This week it’s my turn to plan for the 4th grade in secondary.   Ironically, because of the way the May day holidays fall, I won’t actually be teaching from this plan. So I thought maybe I’d share it on my blog. Maybe you’ll try it out and let me know how it goes. 
Lesson no. 14 (wk starting April 23/ wk starting April 30)
Lesson aim: to practise describing images (in this case the images are in their own heads but hopefully the tasks will help them prepare for the oral exam) 
Materials:  pencils/pens, blank paper, otherwise none – though if you want to show a photo of a) the view from one of your windows  or b) a photo of your living room that might help.  I’ll attach photos of mine (feel free to pretend they’re yours if you want!)
Here are the photos:
1 view from my window

My living room:

 Suggested procedure: 

word of warning:  the lesson calls for quite a lot of imaginative effort from the students, I’m scaffolding it in a way that I think will work with my current group (noisy but cooperative) feel free to do with it what you will for yours 🙂

stage 1 visualisation/ picture dictation: the view from my room

1 ask the students to draw a large empty square on a piece of paper – explain that the square represents a window and that you are going to describe what you can see from the window

2 on the board draw a square and briefly model the activity using one of the windows in the classroom (if you’re in the “dungeons” it’s pretty easy – possibly too easy!).  Label your square as you do using phrases like:   directly in front of me I can see a wall, to the left I can see a wall, to the right I can …,  if I look up, I can see the sky …. In the top left hand cornerI can see the stairs.  You might want to ask a student/students to act as scribes and add the phrases to the board.  Ask ss NOT to write them on their paper for the moment.   They can make a note of it at the end of the lesson (or you can play Kim’s Game with it ie rubbing out bits and they have to remember until it’s all gone, or they have to reuse it in one of the optional writing tasks).

3  describe the view from one of your windows to the class, using phrases like the ones on the board, ask the ss to listen and sketch the view in the square.

4 ask ss to compare their sketches and either retell your description or write it (choice dependent on classroom management/dynamics I guess) – you may want to follow up with some  comprehension checking e.g. where do you think I live? and if you have a photo to show them they can compare their sketch to your photo.

stage 2 students dictate views to their partners

Note: You can either ask them to describe the real view from a window at home or choose one of the following –

  • the  view from a holiday home or hotel
  • the view from one of the classrooms
  • the view from their dream house

1  they’re going for they’ll need preparation time.  To focus the prep ask them to write down between 5 and 10 words they think they’ll need in English or Spanish – help with the words they need, and use peers to help too (or they can look for translations on their phones?)

2 as they perform the task, make sure they’re drawing what their partner is telling them – award points if you want: one point for each detail included, to be awarded by their partner at the end of the task.

3 feedback: show the sketch to the whole class, explain how many points awarded, ask the class to say which kind of view (from the choices given above) they went for

(optional written follow-up, write a description of the view, their own or their partner’s)

stage 3  two options here (I’m going to go with the flow in class)

option 1 a guided tour of my living room

If you went to Jane Arnold’s session at ACEIA you’ll know this activity.  You hold out the palm of your hand and ask the students to imagine they can see their living room on it.  Model it and ham up the visualisation, showing them that there’s an invisible 3D model perched on the palm of your hand. Give the students a guided tour of your living room on the palm of your hand.  Then the ss do the same.  (You could do a guided tour of the classroom if you prefer?)

(optional written follow-up, write a description of the room, their own or their partner’s)

option 2 (the outdoors option)

Very much following Chris Roland’s lead. If your class respond to working outside the classroom take them out to the playground. Show them how to frame a photo with their fingers, then in pairs they find a spot in the playground, frame a photo from that spot and then write a description of what they can see.  They come back into class, read out their descriptions and we discuss whereabouts in the patio they were standing.

rounding off : could go back to the language on the board and play Kim’s Game (see notes above) or drill or do anything else to focus on it for a minute or so before finishing.


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7 Responses to Sharing …

  1. Will try it out – got class in 20 minutes.

  2. Ceri Jones says:

    Great – thank you 🙂
    Looking forward to hearing how it goes. I might get a chance to use it myself tomorrow – not sure yet.

  3. swisssirja says:

    Right, Ceri…you don’t need to remind me every time you write your post WHY I am your fan 😉
    Anyway, great ideas! I especially loved the dictation part…first yours and then theirs to their neighbours. I have done that every year with images. I print out some funny cartoons from google image and then they have to describe the images in great detail so that the partner can draw it. Lots of laughter, every time!
    But the idea that scored the highest over here in the Alps is the outdoor option. I love it! And will definitely do it with some of my classes now that the warm weather is ahead.

    • Ceri Jones says:

      Hi Sirja!
      So nice to hear from you 🙂 I can imagine some beautiful views from “windows” in the Alps in spring!
      Please let me know how it goes. I did actually get to use the first activity (the pair dictation) last class and it worked fine. The simplicity of it seemed to please – and inspire – them. And they liked guessing, and getting me to guess, whereabouts in town the windows were. Still need to engineer an opportunity to use the outdoor option though.

  4. Pingback: Sharing … | Merit Teacher's Digest |

  5. annforeman says:

    HI Ceri,
    Just posted a link to this on if you’d like to check there for comments.

  6. Pingback: Sharing … | ESL instructor | Scoop...

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