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2017 03- March activities -This month we are celebrating mad march!

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March is here, the transition from winter to spring. There is a saying in English that ‘March enters like a lion, and leaves like a lamb’, meaning that it begins with winter storms and ends with warmer, more gentle spring weather.

Our colleague David Bradshaw has prepared a number of activities for the ELT classroom, including a a jigsaw dictation based on Saint Patrick’s Day and a funny multiple matching activity based on Alice in Wonderland!

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2017 03- March activities -This month we are celebrating mad march!

  1. 1. 1 March teaching activities March is here, the transition from winter to spring. There is a saying in English that ‘March enters like a lion, and leaves like a lamb’, meaning that it begins with winter storms and ends with warmer, more gentle spring weather. Photo credit: CW Weather webpage (http://www.chorleyweather.com/uk-winter-forecast-201617-la-nina-now-unlikely/) Contents: Introduction: ................................................................................................................................... 1 Jigsaw dictations – Speaking & Writing – A2 B1: ................................................................... 2 Describing people by comparison – B1 B2: .......................................................................... 5 Mad March Multiple Matching – C1 C2: ................................................................................. 7 Answers: .......................................................................................................................................9
  2. 2. 2 Speaking / Writing Activity: Jigsaw dictations One of the things which I try to do in my conversation classes is to help students become aware of the structure of the texts they are interacting with at the same time as they develop their speaking skills. For this reason, I like to include dictation exercises from time to time, although I use variations which require the students to manipulate the text in some way themselves. On this occasion, I’m going to focus on what I call ‘Jigsaw dictations’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The main idea behind a jigsaw dictation is that the students initially receive the sentences of the text jumbled up, and after the dictation they have to decide how to put the sentences together to recreate the original text. In doing this, the students not only have to transcribe the words that are dictated, but also apply their knowledge of grammar and text in order to produce a coherent text. If you want to make the exercise more challenging, you can mix up sentences from two different texts rather than just from one. The initial text can be delivered to the students in a variety of ways. The teacher can dictate the sentences to the students in the traditional way, first making sure that the students write down what they hear as discrete sentences rather than as a paragraph. Alternatively, and this is the option I prefer, the list of sentences can be pinned up on the wall, and the students can do a running dictation in groups. In this way, the students take an active part in the dictation from the start. Another option is to give each student one of the sentences when they come into the classroom and they have to find partners who have the other sentences from the text before they dictate their sentence to the team they have formed (here it is important to tell them how many different sentences there are in the text, so they know how many people they need in their group). If the
  3. 3. 3 students are dictating the text themselves, it might be an idea to put some of the more difficult words on the board for them – in the example I have marked these words in bold. Once the sentences have been dictated, the students should try to recreate the original text in pairs or groups. It is important that they get a chance to talk about their ideas, as in this way they activate their knowledge of the language as they explain the reasoning behind the order they are suggesting. The teacher should be going around the class monitoring the activity, but should not intervene at this stage unless absolutely necessary. The students need time to experiment with the language and try out different combinations. Here is an example of a jigsaw dictation based on Saint Patrick’s Day (Level: A2-B1):
  4. 4. 4 Worksheet: Saint Patrick’s Day They wear green and often eat and drink a lot. He returned to Ireland to teach the Irish people about Christianity. In Chicago, every year the people colour the river green. Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain. His family was rich. When he was sixteen, he was captured by Irish pirates. People believe God helped him escape. It is a public holiday in Ireland, and also in parts of Canada. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on 17th March. For six years, he lived in Ireland as a slave. Then he escaped and took a ship back to Britain. People celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with parades and festivals. When he got back to Britain, he became a priest. Irish people living in many different countries celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, especially in the USA.
  5. 5. 5 Describing people by comparison One way of describing people and their feelings is to use a comparative structure ‘as.. as...’. Since we are in March, it seems appropriate to start this activity with the example for ‘mad’ – ‘as mad as a March hare’ (a hare is like a rabbit, but it is slightly larger and with longer ears). Normally hares are quiet animals, and are difficult to see in the countryside, but in spring, mating season, their behaviour changes, and they can be seen running round the fields, jumping and fighting. You can see this behaviour in this video. Because this is such a huge change in behaviour, people say that hares in March are mad – and so someone can be described as ‘as mad as a March hare’. Here is a worksheet with other comparisons to describe people and their feelings. Your students can match them using the structure ‘as... as...’. Then ask them to explain why they think that comparison is correct – some are easy to explain, but others are not so obvious! (Level: B1-B2.)
  6. 6. 6 Worksheet: Describing people using ‘as... as...’ Match the words in Column 1 with the words in Column 2 to make a comparison like ‘as mad as a March hare’. Try to find an explanation for each comparison. COLUMN 1 COLUMN 2 quiet a bird happy the hills free a mouse tall a wolf big a picture cool a post gentle Larry deaf a tree hungry a house mad a cucumber old a lamb pretty a hatter
  7. 7. 7 Mad March Multiple Matching This year has seen the release of a new film based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland. One of Carroll’s characters in Alice in Wonderland is the March Hare, who appears with the Mad Hatter and later at Alice’s trial. Read the descriptions of the different characters from Lewis Carroll’s two books and match them to the questions. You may need to use characters more than once. Which character: 1. seems detached from the actions which take place in the story? ................ 2. bears a physical resemblance to the author of the Alice stories? ................ 3. displays attitudes which were prevalent in society in the 19th century? ................ 4. represents a transition in the life of one of the other characters? ................ 5. has a profound effect on the other characters in the story? ................. 6. intensifies a particular attitude as a result of continuing interaction with the other characters in the stories? ................. 7. finds it difficult to reconcile their world view with what happens in the course of the books? ................. 8. intervenes in the action of the story at a particularly critical point? ................. A Alice Alice is a sensible young girl from a wealthy English family who finds herself in a strange world ruled by imagination and fantasy. Alice feels comfortable with her identity and has a strong sense that her environment is comprised of clear, logical, and consistent rules and features. Alice displays great curiosity and attempts to fit her diverse experiences into a clear understanding of the world. Alice approaches Wonderland as an anthropologist, but maintains a strong sense of obligation that comes with her class status. She has confidence in her social position, education, and the Victorian virtue of good manners. Alice has a feeling of entitlement, particularly when comparing herself to Mabel, whom she declares has a “poky little house,” and no toys. Additionally, she flaunts her limited information base with anyone who will listen and becomes increasingly obsessed with the importance of good manners as she deals with the rude creatures of Wonderland. Alice maintains a superior attitude and behaves with solicitous indulgence toward those she believes are less privileged.
  8. 8. 8 B The White Knight Carroll modelled the character of the White Knight after himself, and the White Knight’s compassionate behaviour toward Alice demonstrates Carroll’s feelings toward the real-life Alice Liddell. Like the White Knight, Carroll had shaggy hair, blue eyes, and a mild face. Also like Carroll, the White Knight has a penchant for inventing and compulsively preparing for any kind of contingency, no matter how ridiculous. The White Knight sweeps in at a moment of crisis to rescue Alice from the clutches of the Red Knight, before he helpfully escorts her to the point at which she no longer needs protection and can claim her new title of queen. As he guides her, he sings a song that conjures up feelings of wistful longing, calling attention to the idea of Alice’s transformation into a queen as a metaphor for her awakening into womanhood. The White Knight represents a figure from her childhood who can bring her to the point at which she reaches adulthood before he must let go. The scene between the White Knight and Alice is marked by feelings of nostalgia coupled with regret, since Alice must eventually leave the White Knight and claim her new role alone. C The Cheshire Cat The Cheshire Cat is unique among Wonderland creatures. Threatened by no one, it maintains a cool, grinning outsider status. The Cheshire Cat has some understanding of the workings of Wonderland as a whole. Its calm explanation to Alice that to be in Wonderland is to be “mad” reveals a number of points that do not occur to Alice on her own. First, the Cheshire Cat points out that Wonderland as a place has a stronger cumulative effect than any of its citizens. Wonderland is ruled by nonsense, and as a result, Alice’s normal behaviour becomes inconsistent with its operating principles, so Alice herself becomes mad in the context of Wonderland. Certainly, Alice’s burning curiosity to absorb everything she sees in Wonderland sets her apart from the other Wonderland creatures, making her seem mad in comparison. D The Queen of Hearts As the ruler of Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts is the character that Alice must inevitably face to figure out the puzzle of Wonderland. In a sense, the Queen of Hearts is literally the heart of Alice’s conflict. Unlike many of the other characters in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts is not as concerned with nonsense and perversions of logic as she is with absolute rule and execution. In Wonderland, she is a singular force of fear who even dominates the King of Hearts. In the Queen’s presence, Alice finally gets a taste of true fear, even though she understands that the Queen of Hearts is merely a playing card. The Gryphon later informs Alice that the Queen never actually executes anyone she sentences to death, which reinforces the fact that the Queen of Hearts’ power lies in her rhetoric. The Queen becomes representative of the idea that Wonderland is devoid of substance. Adapted from www.sparknotes.com/lit/alice
  9. 9. 9 Answer keys Jigsaw dictations: Saint Patrick’s Day – Answer key Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain. His family was rich. When he was sixteen, he was captured by Irish pirates. For six years, he lived in Ireland as a slave. Then he escaped, and took a ship back to Britain. People believe God helped him escape. When he got back to Britain, he became a priest. He returned to Ireland to teach the Irish people about Christianity. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on 17th March. It is a public holiday in Ireland, and also in parts of Canada. People celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with parades and festivals. They wear green and often eat and drink a lot. Irish people living in many different countries celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, especially in the USA. In Chicago, every year the people colour the river green. Describing people by comparison – Answer key As quiet as a mouse As happy as Larry1 As free as a bird As tall as a tree As big as a house As cool as a cucumber As gentle as a lamb As deaf as a post2 As hungry as a wolf As mad as a hatter3 As old as the hills As pretty as a picture 1 ‘Larry’ – there are two possible explanations for this. The first is that it refers to the 19th century boxer, Larry Foley, who never lost a fight and was very rich when he retired at the age of 32. The second possibility is that ‘Larry’ is derived from the old slang term ‘larrikin’, meaning a hooligan or vandal. This word also gives us ‘to lark about’, meaning to mess about / fool around. 2 ‘a post’ – have you tried talking to a post? It’s like talking to the wall! 3 ‘a hatter’ – hatters are people who make hats, obviously. In the 19th century, mercury was used in the process of making hats, and many hatters suffered from mercury poisoning. The symptoms of this were trembling and twitching, aggressiveness, mood swings and anti-social behaviour, which made a person suffering from mercury poisoning seem mad.
  10. 10. 10 Mad March Multiple Matching – Answer key Which character: 1. seems detached from the actions which take place in the story? ......C...... 2. bears a physical resemblance to the author of the Alice stories? ......B...... 3. displays attitudes which were prevalent in society in the 19th century? ......A...... 4. represents a transition in the life of one of the other characters? ......B...... 5. has a profound effect on the other characters in the story? ......D...... 6. intensifies a particular attitude as a result of continuing interaction with the other characters in the stories? ......A...... 7. finds it difficult to reconcile their world view with what happens in the course of the books? ......A...... 8. intervenes in the action of the story at a particularly critical point? ......B......

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