ELT BITES Materials-Light Lesson Challenge!

Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/pshab/ for this image
Acknowledgement: Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/pshab/ for this CC licenced image

Richard Gresswell over at ELT BITES posted a low-materials challenge for teachers recently – you can find the challenge and instructions here.  I thought I would try, so…

Lesson Idea: “What’s up?  There’s been a powercut”

True story – I arrived at work one morning many years ago to find the school in darkness and dismay – there was a powercut and nothing was working.  Our morning courses didn’t have coursebooks assigned but there was a course plan.  I had nothing prepared yet.

I was scheduled to review “present perfect 3” (if you know what that means, you’ve been in ELT too long!). I walked into the darkened classroom with 6 confused students and did the following:

  1. ASK students “Hi. Why is the light off? What’s up?” ELICIT “the lights aren’t working“. Ask for reason. ELICIT “There’s been a powercut – nothing is working
  2. BOARD EXAMPLE/CHECK UNDERSTANDING (So when did this happen? Do we know exactly? Is there still an effect now?)
  3. UNPACK FORM (POS: S + have/has + 3rd form verb etc…) and MODEL/DRILL contractions/sentence stress
  4. WRITE 4-5 SIMILAR SITUATIONS ON WB in de-grammared form (e.g. A) “What/happen? B) THERE/ACCIDENT. TAKE/TO HOSPITAL”). Students re-grammar examples.
  5. CONVERT TO “DISAPPEARING DIALOGUE”, removing key grammatical elements, students recall and perform each dialogue with partner with decreasing scaffolding until performance is entirely from memory.

Materials light?
YES. Only used the whiteboard present and the students’ notebooks (paper ones!)

Conversation driven?
YES. The situation in the school was leveraged but not contrived (I didn’t cut through the power lines just for the opportunity to do this!)

Focus on Emergent Language? Innovative? UNPLUGGED?
NOT REALLY/NOT REMOTELY!/ABSOLUTELY!!! I had a clear agenda so this wasn’t very Dogme in this regard. However, the students provided the working language and later contributed their own ideas/language to the mix.  The approach is pure Old School PPP but considering it was entirely on the fly, involved no materials and was a response to “the situation in the room” that fortunately coincided with curriculum requirements, I am still happy to consider this as my first Unplugged lesson.

What do you think? Did I meet Richard’s challenge?  Go to http://eltbites.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/5/ and see what others have posted in response to the challenge or take up the challenge yourself!


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