The seven deadly digital sins

This lesson is based around a wonderful set of videos made by the National film board of Canada and the Guardian, and can be found here;

It features artists such as Billy Bragg (musician), Josie Long (Comedian), Bill Bailey (Comedian) and Jon Ronson (writer/journalist), amongst others. Each of these people talks about a deadly sin and relates it to their own use of the internet and social media. Discussing how we are all affected socially, morally and personally by the digital age.

As well as videos, each sin comes with interactive questions and short articles related to other areas of internet use and applications, which may well be of use to students for further language study.

I have chosen to use the videos for listening and discussion practice as it exposes the students to a variety of different accents as well as providing some interesting discussion points.

The lesson is suitable for Advanced C1 learners and above.

I have given the answers for the specific vocabulary questions but I have left the rest of the questions open to individual interpretation, and this will also get the lazier teachers among us, to actually watch the videos and put the answers into their own words.

I have begun to transcribe the videos and these can be found in the file below. It contains the transcriptions for the videos, Wrath, Lust and Pride. I will try to have them all up as soon as possible.

The files are word documents and can be changed and edited as you see fit.

Enjoy the lesson. Comments are always welcome.

Seven deadly digital sins teacher&student notes

Seven deadly digital sins transcript


Aint no mountain high enough

This is my response to Brad Patterson’s latest blog challenge, which can be found here –

Teaching is like climbing a mountain. Preparation is key. Like a class of learners the mountain and its environment can be unpredictable. Always take the correct equipment (materials), check the weather report (post lesson reflection+lesson planning) and tell someone where you’re going (observation). Don’t over pack, this will mean you have too much to carry and tire yourself out (think about your materials, are they necessary?)  Keep your equipment in good condition, maintain it and upgrade when necessary. (Personal and professional development through courses like DELTA, in-house training, blogging, Twitter, further reading, action research)

All packed and ready to climb Mt Huayna Potosi. 6,088m

Respect the mountain and its surroundings. (Respect your students and make their surroundings the materials you need, they have lives and a lot to say. Give them the chance to say it.) Pace yourself when climbing the mountain, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Why rush to the top and back down again? Enjoy the journey and wonder at the beauty of it all. (It takes time to become a good teacher. Take the rough with the smooth, learn from your mistakes and turn those experiences into learning points.)

When you reach the top, take time to enjoy the view and take lots of pictures. It will be a one-off and every peak will have a different view, as will the journey to get there. ( Document your teaching experiences, be it with a blog, a personal diary or just continuous feedback with your peers. This will keep it fresh, provide other avenues through which to receive feedback and allow other people to feel as though they were there with you.)

On top of Mt Illimani, Bolivia. 6438m

Don’t be complacent on the way down. 80% of all accidents that occur on Mt Everest happen on the way down. ( Maintain classroom management, keep your standards high and this will reflect upon your students, maintain motivation for yourself and your students by pushing yourself that little bit extra to make sure concentration is sustained.)

When you get to the bottom and your legs, back and shoulders ache, take pride in what you have achieved. Not everyone has the courage, determination and willingness to accomplish what you have just done. (Teachers are awesome)

The second challenge was to talk about something that wasn’t teacher related but has brought something to the classroom more than anything else.

For me, it isn’t just one event in my life that has sculpted the way I am in class. It has been a lifetime of experiences, ups and downs, good times, bad times and luck that allows me to bring something personal and unique to the classroom.

Life is for living.

ELTchat summary – Guided Discovery

So out of guilt, seeing as it was my proposal to talk about Guided Discovery, I volunteered to do the summary for the ELTchat that took place on April 4th. The full title was ‘How effective is Guided Discovery in the ELT classroom? Can it help promote learner autonomy?’
Why Guided Discovery, I hear you ask. Well, it all started after Jim Scrivener’s talk at IATEFL about High demand teaching in ELT and the subsequent ELTchat that followed a week later. See summary here by Lizzie Pinard –

I began thinking about how I could implement this in my own classroom and what would really make my students work harder in class and feel as though they have learnt something, rather than simply enjoying the lesson and walking away with relatively little learning actually happening.
Guided Discovery was something I was introduced to on my Trinity Cert course and actually found it rather difficult to get my head around. On a course with so little time and so much to take in I just wanted them to give me the information so I could take it home and study it. I forgot about it and it wasn’t until I read Scott Thornbury’s post on guided discovery that I actually thought about it again.

I was hoping that the chat might lead to some interesting links, resources and lesson plan/ideas. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

We talked about what Guided Discovery was;

@wellmichelle Guided Discovery: students uncovering the rules and structures to the language themselves, but with teacher support #ELTchat

We then discovered that a lot of people use guided discovery, particularly for teaching grammar;

@hartle #eltchat I often use it with a text and the grammar related guided discovery questions refer learners back to context meaning and form
@Marisa_C RT @Shaunwilden: @Marisa_C Well i used it a lot as part of inductive grammar approach #eltchat > so no rule giving but rule discovery
 @reasons4 RT @esolcourses RT @bealer81: So who uses guided discovery? #eltchat  I use it. supplemented with help > isn’t the help the guided but

Then the next question, which for me was the most important, the one where I would be inundated with links and the chance to actual see how a Guided Discovery lesson worked and have, perhaps, a couple of good examples to go away and practise with.

@ShellTerrell What specific lessons have you done in your classrooms that are examples of guided discovery? #ELTChat

And I waited, and continued to wait, and then we went off on a random tangent about Dogme and GD and the chat was over. I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. This was by no means a fault of the ELTchat format or of the great teachers that took part. The impression I get, and this also includes my findings from searching through various books and scouring the internet, is that there just isn’t that much lesson material or research for Guided Discovery done in ELT.  I have managed to find these articles, which provide a good description of what Guided Discovery is and Perhaps the best breakdown of guided discovery, with examples, can be found here (Vicky Samuell) But, my point remains. There are very few examples being shared and talked about. Which seems such a shame, as Guided Discovery appears to be a very effective way of demanding more of our students and giving them a sense of achievement, leading to greater learner autonomy.

ELTchat may not have answered my question or provided me with the plethora of examples I was hoping for, but it certainly highlighted the need for some further hands on research and investigation. Now, I may be looking in the wrong places or typing the wrong words into my search engine. So please tell me if you know of any great resources. I know that there must be research papers out there, but for teachers what we really need is examples and people writing or talking about their experiences with it. So if you do use Guided Discovery and have some ideas get them out there, blog them or put it out on twitter. If you don’t I may have to do another action research project. Oh wait, that sounds like a good idea!

Here is the complete transcript for the ELTchat –

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.