Do the evolution!

I decided that for this lesson I would get the class moving about a bit and try to make the class a little more dynamic. I had come across this lesson from Sandy Millin,, and thought it would be a really interesting and thought-provoking lesson for the students.

I started the class by showing four large pictures of the Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Tuenti (Spanish version of facebook) and eliciting the names and ‘social networking’ from the students. I asked who used what and it seemed the whole class used at least one if not more of them. All except one. “I don’t have the time” he said. Perfect. In pairs I asked them to write down the three main reasons why they use social networking sites, and for the student who didn’t use them, three reasons why not.

Sharing photos, catching up with old friends, talking for free and gossiping were some of the main points, while simply not having the time and preferring to talk on the phone were reason enough to not use the sites. I went back to the gossiping point and asked if the students thought this was a good or bad thing. Surprisingly some of them thought it was one of the best things. I asked them to list three good and bad things about social networking. More floating about, providing vocabulary and checking spelling. The pairs then compared with another group and we did class feedback. One of the good points that came up, was that we could follow famous people by using Twitter. Now was the perfect time to use Sandy’s lesson. I mentioned that I used Twitter frequently, but not to follow famous people. I talked about how I used it to help me solve problems such as grammar points, technology in the classroom or simply asking for advice on certain issues. I quickly showed them what Twitter looked like and how the feed worked.

The idea of the lesson was to create our own twitter feed to give advice or suggestions for problems or situations. I decided to demo the idea with my own problem, which was that I keep forgetting the names of my students. I wrote this on a small piece of paper and placed it on the floor. The students could now take a piece of paper and add their suggestions. I could throw in a response to their suggestions in order to keep the feed moving and to promote further suggestions. The students loved it! Some great suggestions came up;

I can never remember the names of everyone in class. Help! (me)

You can take photos and you can put it in the wall.

I don’t have a camera (me)

You can borrow a camera from a friend.

Before class you can write in the forehead of people in class his name.

I don’t think my boss will let me. (me)

You’re right (my boss)

Everyone could be named about something who describe him/her.

My name is like a flower, so it’s easy to remember. (Rosa)

It was going great. I picked up on the use of modals for giving advice and suggestions and boarded a small list, half elicited from the students and half supplied by me, that we could use in the next activity. I didn’t want to lose the pace of the lesson so I launched back into it and mentioned the wishes that the class had made in the previous lesson. We chose one of each and I asked them if they could supply suggestions to make these wishes come true. A selection of some of the best ones are below.

I wish that Santander had the AVE station.

The politicians should meet to try and find money from the banks.

Maybe it will get done if ‘Revilla’ (local politician) get chosen again.

We can’t build the AVE station, but we could invent teleporter.

I wish that the economic crisis would end.

We could steal money from other countries

Politicians could reduce their salary,

I think it should be legal to photocopy the paper money.

Lot’s of new vocabulary had come up, we had practised giving suggestions and advice and more importantly the students had really enjoyed the class. The class was a little language light and I could really have built on that, but I guess I was enjoying the flow of the lesson too much to want to break up the momentum. Something to add to the growing list of things to work on. On a more positive side I now have a stack of about 30 sentences to use for some sort of error correction exercise later in the term.


6 thoughts on “Do the evolution!

  1. A topic they were interested in, allowing them to express their opinions in written and spoken english, giving personalized advice… I’ve seen it work well before, and am glad it did for you, Adam !

    I think your point towards the end is one I’ve questioned many times. When is it the proper timing to review words, and introduce corrections? I assume many would say a final review activity after this one, and then maybe reminder activities at the beginning of the next lesson. I’ve been there, but it too feels contrived (which was why you didn’t want to get in the way of the activity as it was flowing).

    Thoughts ?

    • I think the key is to be a little bit more disciplined and make sure a review takes place no matter what happens in the class. Difficult yes, but it could become part of the lesson routine. So much so that the students will be reminding you to do the review if you forget. Or as you suggest Brad, make sure the previous lesson is discussed and reviewed at the beginning of each new lesson, again this could be the routine and warm up activity for each lesson. In partners talk about what you did in the last lesson and note down 3 things we talked about / you learnt etc.
      With these two options you could allow the lesson to flow with out interruption and review next lesson, or if the lesson begins to falter or finishes earlier, exploit that time to really dig into the review of what has gone before.

      I hope that answered your question Brad. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Great post, Adam.
    I really like how you have incorporated the “wish list” into this idea.
    A Twitter feed in class is a brilliant idea… I’m now wishing that I had more than one-to-ones today to make use of this myself…
    Bringing real life ideas into the classroom like this is exactly what we need more of, whether it be blog posts, twitter feeds or anything else that gets us communicating ideas and using language. On Friday, I saw a Celta trainee use some feedback she had written to me on my sessions to build her final Celta lesson and get the students writing feedback on her and her fellow trainees’ lessons.
    I especially like the idea of tattooing students’ names on their heads… : )

    Good luck with the continuing project!

  3. Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment.

    It’s a great idea and I would highly recommend. I think the linking of the lessons is very important even in an unplugged classroom where at times the class can go off in a completely different direction at times. By linking you can have a sort of natural recycling effect with language and with ideas.

  4. Hi Adam,
    I’m really pleased that you managed to take the Twitter idea and use it in your class to such great effect.
    You could use the sentences in a few other ways as well as simple error correction. For example, ask them to remember which sentences are from the same conversation and turn it into an adticle or story. They could hide sentences in a conversation and try to get other students to guess which ones were from the Twitter activity.
    Interested to see where you take it next!

    • Hi Sandy,
      Thanks for posting the original idea and thanks for the comments about the sentences. I was thinking that perhaps I could use them in some sort of reported speech exercise. Everyone put their name on top of the paper so maybe we could write a report of what was said, pretend it was a debate for example, correct the sentences first and then convert them into reported speech. Just a thought. I might try that next week and let you know how it goes.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

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