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2017 06 - June teaching activities: Here comes summer!

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The days are getting longer, the sun is getting stronger and there’s time for one more set of activities before the summer holidays finally arrive. This month, we’ll listen to different versions of a classic summer song and learn to write opinions more effectively, get help describing photographs and work on our presenting skills.

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2017 06 - June teaching activities: Here comes summer!

  1. 1. 1 June teaching activities: Here comes summer! The days are getting longer, the sun is getting stronger and there’s time for one more set of activities before the summer holidays finally arrive. This month, we’ll listen to different versions of a classic summer song and learn to write opinions more effectively, get help describing photographs and work on our presenting skills. Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/5977553795/in/album-72157626527253332/
  2. 2. 2 Contents: Introduction: ................................................................................................................................... 1 ‘Summertime’ – Writing opinions (B2 – C1/C2): ................................................................................... 3 Picture dictations (A2 – B1): .......................................................................................................... 7 Pecha Kucha (B1 – C2): ................................................................................................................. 8 Answers: ...................................................................................................................................... 9-10
  3. 3. 3 Activity 1: ‘Summertime’ (B2 – C1/C2) – Writing opinions In 1934, George Gershwin wrote the classic summer song, ‘Summertime’, as part of his opera ‘Porgy and Bess’. Over the years, the song has been recorded by many very different singers, from Billie Holiday to Janis Joplin. In this activity, students will listen to two versions, and then write their opinions about the each version. Part 1: Listening activity Divide the class into two groups, A and B. ask group A to listen to Ella Fitzgerald singing ‘Summertime’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2bigf337aU) for homework, and complete Worksheet 1 below with the lyrics. Ask group B to do the same exercise, but listening to Janis Joplin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guKoNCQFAFk) – your students may need to listen to this version a couple of times to complete the activity, as Joplin’s voice can be difficult to understand. Once the students have listened to their version of the song and completed the worksheets, put them into pairs, one from group A and one from group B, and ask them to compare their answers on the worksheets. Then explain that they are going to practise writing paragraphs expressing their opinions about the version of the song they heard. Part 2: Focus on paragraph structure The objective of this part of the activity is to focus students on the structure which a paragraph from an opinion essay should have. Typically, a paragraph begins with a topic sentence, a statement of what the focus of the paragraph is going to be. This is followed either by an explanation of the topic sentence, or an example. The paragraph ends with a short summary or some sort of concluding statement, which may link to the next paragraph. From B2 onwards, it is important that students take care to structure their ideas carefully in their paragraphs, and try to link their ideas across paragraphs to make their essays flow well. Ask students to think about the version of the song they listened to, and to write down three opinions about the singing, each in a separate box on Worksheet 2. Then ask them to write why each of these opinions is important for the enjoyment of the song. Finally, ask them to write one or two examples from the song where what they are describing is particularly clear. Once they have done this, they should explain their opinions to their partner from the other group, using the explanation and examples they have noted down. Then students should try to link the sentences in each paragraph more effectively, and try to add a short summary or concluding statement for each paragraph. The finished paragraphs can be displayed around the classroom so students can see what others have written, and you should encourage students to listen to the version of the song they did not listen to, so they can see if they agree with the opinions expressed.
  4. 4. 4 Group A Worksheet 2 – ‘Summertime’ (Ella Fitzgerald, 1968) GROUP A: Listen to the following version of ‘Summertime’ by Ella Fitzgerald and complete the lyrics (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2bigf337aU) SUMMERTIME Summertime, and the livin' is ...................................................... Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is ............................................................... Oh, your daddy's .......................................... and your ma is good-lookin' So hush, little baby, don't you cry One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing And you'll spread your ............................................ and you'll take to the sky But till that .........................................., there ain't nothin' can harm you With daddy and mammy standin' by One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing And you'll spread your ............................................ and you'll take to the sky But till that ..........................................., there ain't nothin' can harm you With daddy and mammy standin' by Summertime, and the livin' is easy Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is ............................................................. Oh, your daddy's ........................................... and your ma is good-lookin' So hush, little baby, don't you cry
  5. 5. 5 Group B Worksheet 1 – ‘Summertime’ (Janis Joplin, 1968) GROUP B: Listen to the following version of ‘Summertime’ by Janis Joplin and complete the lyrics (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guKoNCQFAFk) SUMMERTIME Summertime, time, time Child, the living's .......................................................... Fish are jumping now And the cotton, Lord Cotton's high, Lord so ................................................................. Your daddy's ........................................................... And your ma is so good-looking, baby She's a-looking good now Hush, baby, baby, baby, baby now No, no, no, no Don't you cry, don't you cry One of these mornings You're gonna rise, rise up singing You're gonna spread your ..............................................., child And take, take to the ................................................. Lord, the sky But until that ....................................................... Honey, n-n-nothing's going to harm you now No, no, no no, no no, no... Don't you cry, cry
  6. 6. 6 Worksheet 2 – Expressing opinions
  7. 7. 7 Activity 2: Picture dictations (A2 – B1) In the Cambridge English: Preliminary for Schools speaking exam, students are given a photograph and asked to describe it. Many candidates simply give a list of things that come in the photograph, but stronger candidates can distinguish themselves by organising their descriptions in a more orderly way. This activity is a simple way of helping them to achieve a more organised way of describing a scene. I begin this activity by revising prepositions of place and ways of describing position in a picture – at the top, at the bottom, in the top right corner, etc. then we describe a photograph together as a class, to make sure they are using the vocabulary correctly. Then the students are seated in pairs, back to back. One of them is given a photograph and is asked to describe it to their partner. The partner has to draw the picture as it is being described. The student describing the picture has their back to the other student so that s/he cannot make adjustment to the picture which is being drawn. The other student only has their partner’s words to guide them as they draw. If they are unclear about a detail, they can ask for clarification, and in that way they help their partner to structure a description in a more logical way. Once the description is finished, they compare their pictures with the original photograph. Then they change places and the exercise is repeated. The pictures can be of anything, so it is a good idea to tie them in with the topic which you are covering in class at the time (a good source of free pictures is www.eltpics.com). If possible, I like to project the photograph on the IWB, which means that everyone is describing the same picture at the same time, as this allows them to compare their drawings not only with the original but also with those of their classmates, and this can be quite motivating. If this is not possible, photographs cut from colour magazines work just as well, and the students can be asked to bring the photos in themselves, which saves on preparation time. A good tip is to keep any photos they bring in in an envelope in class, so that fast finishers can repeat the exercise in future classes.
  8. 8. 8 Activity 3: Pecha Kucha – Learning to give presentations (B1 – C2) At this time of the school year, there is often the problem of what to do with students who do not need to sit the final exams. One activity which I have done such students at different levels has been to arrange for them to prepare presentations for their class on a topic of their choice. In order to make their presentations more easily comparable, and allow me to mark them more fairly, I adapted the rules for Pecha Kucha – a form of high-speed presentation where presenters deliver a talk based on twenty slides, each of which is shown for twenty seconds. The slides are programmed so that they change automatically after twenty seconds. In the version I used with my students, they were limited to six slides and fifty seconds per slide, for a total time of three minutes, but obviously this can be adjusted according to the ability and level of your students – remember, the lower their level, the more they will hesitate, so the longer they will need for each slide. You can find several videos on You Tube to show how to set up a Pecha Kucha presentation, such as this one: https://www.youtube.com/embed/l9zxNTpNMLo Students can work on their presentations individually or in pairs / threes, and should be encouraged to practise presenting before they show their work to the class, to avoid overrunning or long awkward pauses. Students will often produce slides which are text- heavy at first, and then read from the slide rather than using the slide to support what they are saying. This can be countered by limiting the number of words on any one slide, or simply by insisting that they rework their slides before you mark them. If your students don’t have access to a computer in class, or you do not have the means to show a presentation, they can do a similar activity based on a poster presentation, putting their ideas on a large card or series of cards and delivering their talk that way. You can use this activity to practise any public-speaking techniques you feel appropriate. Giving effective presentations is an important life skill for students to develop, and it can be a fun activity to round off the school year.
  9. 9. 9 Answer keys Activity 1: SUMMERTIME (Ella Fitzgerald) Summertime, and the livin' is ..........EASY................... Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is ...............HIGH.............................. Oh, your daddy's ............RICH............ and your ma is good-lookin' So hush, little baby, don't you cry One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing And you'll spread your ..........WINGS............. and you'll take to the sky But till that .....MORNING.............., there ain't nothin' can harm you With daddy and mammy standin' by One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing And you'll spread your ...........WINGS......... and you'll take to the sky But till that .........MORNING.........., there ain't nothin' can harm you With daddy and mammy standin' by Summertime, and the livin' is easy Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is .................HIGH....................... Oh, your daddy's ............RICH............ and your ma is good-lookin' So hush, little baby, don't you cry
  10. 10. 10 SUMMERTIME (Janis Joplin) Summertime, time, time Child, the living's ..............EASY......................................... Fish are jumping out And the cotton, Lord Cotton's high, Lord so .......... HIGH....................................... Your daddy's ...........RICH................................................ And your ma is so good-looking, baby She's a-looking good now Hush, baby, baby, baby, baby now No, no, no, no, no, no, no Don't you cry, don't you cry One of these mornings You're gonna rise, rise up singing You're gonna spread your ........WINGS......................................., child And take, take to the .........SKY........................................ Lord, the sky But until that ......MORNING.............................................. Honey, n-n-nothing's going to harm you No, no, no no, no no, no...

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