IATEFL Poland: Piotr Steinbrich's "live lesson"

IATEFL Poland: Piotr Steinbrich's "live lesson" - hancockmcdonald.com/blog/iatefl-poland-piotr-steinbrichs-live-lesson

In this ‘live lesson’ Piotr taught a class of 10 secondary students at advanced level using Speakout Advanced (Pearson). During the lesson, students were presented with vocabulary connected with a courtroom scene in order to prepare them for a BBC video clip from the final Black Adder series, Black Adder Goes Forth. In this episode (Corporal Punishment), Black Adder is on trial for disobeying orders and shooting a pigeon.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRx90mOXS7Q

Piotr began the lesson with two warmers. The first involved us all saying colour words aloud which were written in the font colour the words referred to – if you get my drift. The next stage of the activity also involved saying colour words, but this time from a longer list and only ones which were written in the same font colour they referred to. So, if the word ‘red’ was written in a blue font, it was to be ignored. This was a good fun warmer for both teachers and students attending the session. 

The second warmer was for the students only. They were to draw a present they would give to another member of the group, pass the present over, and then describe it to the group and say why they liked it. The activity worked very well, and generated a collaborative and supportive atmosphere before the start of the class.

The students were then shown a still from the video clip, and were obviously familiar with the characters and series. They then did a series of activities which introduced lexis related to courtroom people and procedures, and which nicely graded up in terms of difficulty. First, they were asked to match vocabulary definitions to words. Piotr checked this by reading the definitions for the students to say the word, and this provided the opportunity for pronunciation work where needed. Then he read the words, and elected individuals to give the definitions (without looking at the book). 

Before watching the video, students were invited to select the two worse punishments from a list and explain their choices to each other. The scene was now set, and judging from the shoulder movements of the students, they clearly understood the necessary vocabulary in context to follow the clip and share in the humour. As a final recap activity, they matched characters in the clip with the things they had said or done.

At the end of the lesson, the students gave feedback, indicated they had enjoyed the lesson, had learnt much by way of useful vocabulary and valued having pronunciation corrected once they have had several opportunities to try it out.

As this was the final ‘live lesson’ discussions centred on the experience as a whole, and how such sessions might be set up in future. The students were asked about whether or not they’d prefer to be facing the participants – some 40 teachers. You can imagine why they said no.  Once the students had left, teachers reflected on the lesson, with the main focus being on techniques to present and teach vocabulary, either in isolation or in chunks. One useful contribution was the importance of helping students recognising the beginning and end of a phrase.  We all left the live lesson buzzing about experiencing more in future conventions.

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