Oral presentations

I’ve written the following planning sheets to help my students think of ways in which they can start and close their oral presentations in class, and how to keep their audience engaged while delivering them.

I’ve also put the ideas for the different stages together into one file for easier reference:

I hope you find it useful!

Dancing Teens

1. Ask the students to think of any films from the 1980s featuring teenagers dancing. Elicit a few titles.

2. Tell them that they are going to watch a video which explains why dancing in films was popular in the 1980s. The video is available on the BBC website and on BBC’s Facebook page (it’s a public post, so you don’t have to log in.) You can also find it on Twitter here.

3. Explain that for each time period (early 80s, mid 80s and late 80s) they will first have to answer one or two questions, they will look for a series of synonyms, and finally they will be writing the film titles mentioned in the video.

4. Play till 2:39, corresponding to the early 80s. Allow some time to answer the different sections. Play again.

5. Repeat the same procedure for the mid 80s (from 2:40 to 3:54) and late 80s (from 3:55 to 5:08).

6. Check the answers with the whole group.
VOCABULARY: Early 80s: 1. polished, 2. supported, 3. fad, 4. tanked, 5. mirrored, 6. blend or mash-up; Mid 80s: 1. ruled, 2. archetypal, 3. grown-up, 4. taking over, 5. defiance, 6. deemed; Late 80s: 1. diluted, 2. standstill, 3. heralding.

7. Have the students complete a summary using words from the vocabulary section (the synonyms they had found in the video) in the correct form.

KEY: 1. archetypal, 2. defiance, 3. backed, 4. ruled, 5. heralded, 6. blended, 7. fad, 8. had tanked, 9. were diluted, 10. standstill

8. Go over the film title sections and discuss any movies the students may have watched. Assign each film to pairs of students, and ask them to do some research about them. Provide the following as a guide:

– Film title:

– Genre:

– Release year:

– Director:

– Lead actors/actresses:

– Dance styles featured:

– Soundtrack:

– Plot summary:

– Notable Quotes (if any):

– Fun facts:

– Sample clips:

– Sources Used:

9. Have the students share their findings!

The seed vault

1. Ask the students to draw the scene you’re about to describe. Play this sound effect of a snow blizzard from BBC Sound Effects to help set the scene. Read the following:

I’ve been lost in the middle of this blizzard for almost half an hour. It’s difficult to see where I am, but I’ve just noticed a strange light square in the distance and I’m walking towards it. Could it be a house? Perhaps one of the houses in the town where I’m staying? I shouldn’t be too far away, after all.

As I get closer, I can see something similar to a tower made of concrete with a steel door and a tiny bridge in front of it. It seems to be carved into the side of the mountain! And then there’s the strange blueish light on a big square above the door.

I can’t help but feel a sense of mystery and intrigue. I’m now certain this is not a fancy hotel or someone’s house. I approach the door. It’s clear that it leads to something special. I take a deep breath, reach for the handle and turn it. The door creaks open, and I step inside.

2. Have the students share their pictures.

3. Display a picture of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and discuss any similarities and differences.

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(Source: TIME)

4. Tell the students that they are going to watch a short video about this facility. As they watch it, the students first explain why the numbers in activity 1 are mentioned in the video.

POSSIBLE ANSWERS:

1300 – the number of kilometres from Svalbard to the North Pole
200 – the number of years the seed vault has been planned to last
3 – the number of vault rooms
120 – the number of metres from the front door to the vault room that is in use
3,000,000 – the number of seeds that will be stored in the three vault rooms
500 – the number of seeds per sample there will be in the future
1700 – the number of gene banks around the world
9,000,000 – the amount of dollars it cost to build the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

5. The students work together to complete a short gapped text about the Global Seed Vault with one suitable word for each blank.

SUGGESTED ANSWERS: 1. seeds; 2. preserve; 3. tunnel; 4. bags; 5. boxes; 6. shelves

In their own words, the students explain why the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is important, and how it can help us in the future, using the information from the video. Share and discuss the students’ answers. You may even want to explore any possible problems or disadvantages this type of facility may have.

6. Ask the students to read the beginning of a story that takes place at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. As they read, have them identify the setting, the characters and the plot of the story.

7. Finally, ask the students to finish the story! Why not invite them to visit BBC Sound Effects, look for the sound effects that best suit their story endings (you can even mix different effects by clicking “Mixer Mode”) and create the perfect atmosphere for an intriguing story sharing session?

Wonders of Street View: some activity ideas

Wonders of Street View is a website from Neal Agarwal that collects weird and wonderful things on Google Street View:

By clicking “Random” on the upper-right corner, you will be taken on a trip to unique places around the world, including some really strange situations about which our students will certainly have a lot to say!

You can read where each Street View is located (upper-right corner), and you can get the address of a specific view by clicking “Share” (bottom-right corner) and copying the address provided, or opening the link on Google Street View itself.

The website is perfect for a whole-group speaking lesson in which the students use all kinds of descriptive language, together with functional language such as agreeing and disagreeing, or asking for / giving opinion.

I’m also attaching a choice board with task ideas that the students can do using this fun resource, first independently or in pairs/groups, but which can then be used in the classroom to practise other skills. Notice that these are general ideas and they will need to be specified to meet your students’ needs. I’ve tried organising them according to the level of difficulty, with the easier tasks at the top and the more challenging ones at the bottom. And if you’re following a structural syllabus, it might give you some ideas for actitivies you can do depending on the language focus you’re working on!

I will be happy to edit the choice board with any other ideas you may have, so feel free to share them!

“Romeo and Juliet”: a post-reading mini-project

To check comprehension of a B1 graded reader based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, I asked my younger students to choose four key scenes or snapshots from the play and plan a short oral presentation explaining their choices, including:
– a description of each “snapshot”, including the setting, the characters and the action;
– which part of the plot they belong to;
– why they think they are important, providing at least three reasons.

Working in pairs, the students created a paper diorama for each scene which helped them both with the planning process and as a visual aid in the presentation. To make these dioramas, we simply used regular DIN-A4 white paper:

1. Fold the paper to make a square.

2. Fold the paper again so that it is folded on both diagonals.

3. Cut on one of the folds to the centre.

And there you go!

We even tried some stage curtains on each diorama!

This type of diorama makes it easy for students to take home before assembling and gluing them together, and for pairs to distribute the amount of work to be done.

The pairs of students finally took turns explaining their choices, followed by several questions from the audience. (And they did really well!)

For other similar post-reading ideas, you may want to check the following:

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: an alphabet book.

One-pagers: “The House on Mango Street”

15 post-reading activities.

Life in the year 2100

In 1966, BBC’s “Tomorrow’s World” featured a number of students from the UK sharing their own predictions about what they thought life would be like for them in the year 2000. The selection in the video around which this lesson revolves is certainly not the most optimistic, but I thought it would still be a good exercise for the students, and it might even help them refine their own predictions about our future.

LEAD-IN

1. Ask the students what they think life will be like in the year 2100. Have them compete the table on the worksheet with their own predictions for each of the categories provided: population, advances in technology, quality of life, housing, climate, and health and medicine. If necessary, elicit and/or model the structures they may want to use to talk about future predictions.

2. Have the students share their predictions and discuss any major differences.

LISTENING

3. The categories in the table are the main areas that are discussed in the BBC video broadcast on 28th December 1966. The students listen to the video with the English pupils’ predictions for the year 2000 and take notes for each category as they complete the table.

Here are some of the main ideas in the video:
– Population – The world will be overpopulated.
– Advances in technology – There won’t be enough jobs because of computers and robots.
– Quality of life – Life will be dull and boring. / People will be regarded more as statistics than as actual people. / Possessions will be rationed due to overpopulation.
– Housing – People will live in very small houses. / People will live under the sea or in the desert due to lack of space.
– Climate – The world might be too hot because of nuclear explosions. / The sea level will rise. / There may be another Ice Age.
– Health and medicine – There will be more cures and not so many sick people.

4. Encourage the students to discuss some of the predictions, and what they think of them in general. Are any of their predictions for 2100 similar to any of the predictions in the video?

FOLLOW-UP

5. Have the students write a few more predictions for the year 2100 related to other categories: school, transportation, food, clothing, relationships, and happiness. Are they now ready for a whole group discussion about each category?

Food waste

1. Write or read the following definition:

“unwanted or unusable material, substances, or by-products”

___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Elicit the word “waste”. Brainstorm different types of waste (electricity, paper, glass, food, wood, water, plastic, metal, chemicals, heat, clothes, etc.)

2. Tell the students you will be focusing on food waste. Why is food waste a problem? Write down a few answers.

3. The students watch a series of short videos with specific ideas or measures to reduce food waste. Each of them has a different focus, from school projects to other types of measures implemented at a national level. The students watch the first three videos and write down the country and/or city where each measure is being implemented and a brief description of the solution that is suggested in each video.

In South Korea, an innovative push to cut back on food waste

Young Singaporeans’ smart answer to the world’s food waste problem.

Insects As A Solution To Food Waste

4. Have the students choose one of these videos based on originality, creativity and usefulness, but also thinking of how feasible it might be to implement the suggested solutions where they live.

5. Repeat the same procedure with the next three videos.

How Rotting Vegetables Make Electricity

Pennsylvania students invent solution to their school’s food waste problem

School Food Waste Solutions

6. After choosing the best idea, have the students discuss which solution they would choose, including its strengths and any weaknesses they can find.

7. Encourage the students to think of specific measures we could try at our school to reduce food waste:
– Which are some of the problems they can identify within the school premises?
– What are some solutions they can put forward to help prevent food waste?
Teams work on a list of solutions and prepare a short presentation to be shared with the whole group.

A fashionable Halloween

Using Gemma Correll’s Ghost Fashions poster as inspiration, within a few days we will be exploring different fashion styles and using them to define unique Halloween characters which will hopefully result in some interesting (and not necessarily spooky!) narrative texts.

2. Explain to the students they are going to design a similar poster based on other Halloween characters. Create six teams and give one character to each of them: mummy, monster, witch, warlock, jack-o’-lantern and zombie.

1. Share the “Ghost Fashions” poster with the students. Clarify any unknown words or any questions the students may have. Have them choose their favourite fashions and discuss their choices as a whole group.

3. The students go over vocabulary related to different fashion styles using this site and this site, together with some picture dictionaries. The idea is for them to revise vocabulary related to fashion and learn new words as they look for inspiration for their own poster. The students choose 16 different fashion styles that they think will help to make their character the most unique.

4. The students take turns drawing their character according to the 16 chosen styles. As they do this, have them discuss briefly what they think each of the characters might be like.

5. Tell the students each team will get one character from each grid and that they will be planning a story with these six characters. Display the posters, have the teams explain the different fashion styles, and use a die to select the characters for each team.

6. Ask the teams to plan a story with the six main characters in mind. Encourage them to use the forest worksheet to plan six scenes and write down or sketch their plan.

7. The students write the story individually or in groups. Simultaneous or roundtable writing could be a good option here, too!

8. Have the students share and compare their stories. If time allows, I may use some of them with my younger students and have them sketch the stories on the forest worksheet as they listen to demonstrate comprehension.

I was thinking of sharing this activity once we’d finished, but then I thought I’d share it now in case some of you want to try it. If you do, it’d be great if you could share some of the posters created by your students!

Guest post: Talking about the past

Isabelle Julienne, a reader of this blog, is sharing this game adaptation for students to practise the Past Simple in an engaging, interactive way.

Here are the different games you can play and the procedure for each one of them:

You need a regular deck of cards.

GAME 1: Make up 4 teams, or 4 individual players, and 1 game master. Hand out the “player” sheets and give the deck of cards to the game master. The game master takes out a card, calls out colour and number. All the players check their sheet and the one who has the colour and number reads out the question or statement. The other three players check their sheets to find the corresponding answer or question. Play until the pack of cards has been used.

GAME 2: For this version, keep only hearts and clubs in the deck of cards. Make up 4 teams, or 4 individual players, and 1 game master. Hand out the “player” sheets and give the deck of cards to the game master. The students have to invent questions, using the simple past or any other tense you wish to revise, and write them in the space provided if there is a question mark at the end of the line. The game master takes out a card, calls out colour and number. All the players check their sheet and the one who has the colour and number reads out the question. The other players check their sheets to find who has the same number and colour on the line and must answer the question spontaneously. Play until this pack of cards has been used.

– Isabelle Julienne