Friday, 22 April 2016

Let Peace talk through Arts - Part 3

Music was the third kind of Arts that I chose to trigger teenagers to express themselves about a controversial issue,i.e. peace/war. I used a worksheet from  Imagine - John Lennon but of course it is up to you to adopt the task according to your students' level and skills.

I have chosen this particular song because I wanted to motivate my teenage students to talk about a universal topic concerning most citizens, intrigued by a well-known composer and singer. It gave my young learners the stand to express their thoughts, opinions and feelings on the matter, not because they were externally motivated by a reward or lesson object but because they would get the satisfaction of completing a task on a topic that interests them. They had the opportunity to develop both their higher and lower thinking skills since they were involved in preparing an interview with the singer and summarising the main points of the song.

And here is the lesson plan

Step 1 
First, I had my Intermediate students listen to the music of the song without the lyrics. They immediately recognised it since they had heard it many times before. I asked them whether they know any of the lyrics or even some words of the song. Obviously, they were motivated to complement each other in  group work.

Step 2
 In the next stage I distributed the worksheet with the word gaps and I encouraged them to fill in the missing words in  pairs. These both first lesson activities activated the learners’ knowledge and contributed to them being introduced  to the listening activity. The outcome was quite satisfactory as they completed the task with no difficulty although they did not know every word of the lyrics. Thus, I could go on to evaluate and expand in the meanings of the song with questions that induced  their thinking skills, e.g. comprehension, analysis and evaluation.

Step 3
I asked them to write down questions that they would like to ask John Lennon. Let them act the interview. It is a good practice of forming questions and replies.

Step 4
Let them summarise the main points of the song and express their feelings and opinion. As I have called it Listen- Feel - Ask.
How do you feel when you listen to the song?
Does it make you think? 

The main advantage was that almost every student showed interest and wanted to participate in the process, which proved that they were motivated by the topic and they were encouraged by their peers and their teacher to complete the activities. They were involved in pair and group work as well as  autonomously. They practised their speaking, listening and writing skills, were engaged with concepts like peace/war/religion, expanded their vocabulary and felt approved by their peers and their teacher.

However, there was a problem that I had anticipated. They seemed to have difficulty in expressing themselves to some extent on controversial issues, e.g. religion, countries. This could be because they do not have the commensurable experience and language level. I tried to motivate them by referring to previous lessons where we talked about our ideal city or world. I encouraged them to adapt those ideas in the new discussion. It was a good opportunity to show them that their knowledge is not restricted to one issue and that it can be used tailored to the situations accordingly.

In my opinion, the students have enjoyed this new listening task and discussion approach as it was an enjoyable, different activity from the standard ones they cope with in their coursebooks. Furthermore, we were able to develop and put into practice various skills and sub-skills, i.e. speaking and writing, analysing, applying and evaluating a piece of work. 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Let Peace talk through Arts- Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, I chose three different kinds of Arts to talk about Peace with my Intermediate students in their project.
This time I used a video showing an amazing artist Ilana Yahav drawing on the sand.
These are the steps I followed to encourage my students to talk about the video.
Step 1
Let the students watch the video. Ask them to note down as many words as they remember from it. It can be  pair work or  group work
Step 2
On a “Globe”  mindmap write the subheadings “Earth” “War” “Peace”
Let the students list the vocabulary they have found accordingly. This is the time you can expand their vocabulary and add new words they do not know in English.
Step 3
This video is full of symbolism. It is a good opportunity to encourage your students to talk about symbols and what they understand from them, i.e lighting – symbol of ? = destruction, an old man – symbol of? = wisdom, sun shining – symbol of? = hope, future, a new beginning
Step 4

As homework you can give them the assignment to write a review of the video.  In the classroom they can check their writing in  pairs and improve any parts in grammar and vocabulary. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Let Peace talk through Arts - Part 1

Last year I ran another project with my Intermediate students ,inspired by my dear colleague Patty Salguero, an English teacher in Peru. We talked about running a joint project in an attempt to connect our students through arts. We decided to talk about Peace and War ,our creativity triggered by Picasso’s painting Guernica.
I took it a step further and added more forms of Ars, filming and music. This is the first post of the whole project, starting with interpreting Picasso’s painting, Guernica. I will present it like a lesson plan so that I can it keep it brief, precise and clear.


Step 1
Present the painting over a projector on the whiteboard. Let the students observe the painting. Let them even come close to the whiteboard so that they can have a closer look.
Step 2
Give them time to write down all the objects they have seen. It is a good chance to revise vocabulary related to emotions, war, peace, face  expressions  and body language. Draw a mindmap with subheadings on the whiteboard and let them add all the words they have come up with accordingly.
Step 3
As homework, share the link of an interpretation of the painting by the expert Gijs van Hensbergen in an article on BBC News. (Source Their work should be to scan the text and note down the most important information they think there is. Emphasise that they do not need to understand all  the points of the text ,which might be of a higher level than theirs. The objective of the task is to recognise the information and the key meanings to fulfil the assignment.
Step 4
In the next lesson ,students gather all the symbolism  of the different parts of the painting on a board. They can even gather them all on a digital board like
Step 5
In the final stage of the first part of the project, students summarise their comments, opinions, emotions in a paragraph. It is the time to evaluate this masterpiece of Art on paper. They can even write a post on their blog or record a Vlog if they wish to express themselves in digital form.

Acknowledgement to