About a year ago I discovered a nice collection of one minute videos recorded by Hugh Dellar and Andrew Walkley. Each video recording features an English expression which is clearly explained and presented with examples from real life conversations. You can find this collection housed in their Youtube Channel Lexical Lab. I shared a generic way of exploiting these videos for all language levels in the language classroom followed by an optional follow-up speaking interaction to practice the target expressions. You can read about it here.
Today I am going to focus on a writing task attached to the videos. Writing in the classroom seems to me a neglected area mostly because it is something that, after all, can always be done at home and also because teachers do not really have the time or means to check and give feedback on what is being generated, if this takes place in the classroom setting.
However, we can try to devise micro-writing tasks that can take up just ten minutes of class time. You may decide to have your students work in pairs or small groups and try to provide help as the texts are being generated. These micro-writing tasks should, in principle, be aimed at consolidating newly learned vocabulary in order for the students to do things with the language in different ways (including writing).
However, this time this activity centers on activating vocabulary that the students are familiar with and also on paving the ground for new expressions.
Tell the students that they are going to learn a new expression today (some may already know it and it’s fine). Select key vocabulary from the video and ask your students to write a story with what they can from the selected key vocabulary that you have annotated on the board. They are not allowed to use their dictionaries. They simply have to write a four line story using as many lexical items from the board as they want or can. Give them about ten minutes to work in pairs or in small groups of threes or fours. Do not help them with the vocabulary on the board; just with their writing.
Students read out their texts outloud. With classes with a large number of students, pick five or six groups and collect the rest of the samples. If your students are allowed to use internet connecting devices, you can set up a Google Doc for everyone to see in the front. Another interesting tip: get the students to write their four-line texts on strips of paper. Open the camera tool on your computer and have them hold their papers in front of the camera for everyone to see on the board. Then give feedback and ask your class for possible error corrections, reformulations, etc.
Finally play the video for them to compare their stories with the video. Clarify meaning of the target vocabulary. Check understanding. Play the video another couple of times.
So this one-minute English video is trying to explaing the meaning of “(don’t) rest on your laurels” by means of a real-life situation. This is the vocabulary that I would write on the board:
- school assembly
- to be awarded a prize
- to feel proud of (something)
- to relate (to something)
- a head teacher
- to hand (someone) a prize
- to push yourself on
- (not to/never) rest on your laurels
Before you play the video, which four-line story would you write? (in your head). Then play the video and compare.