A designer Lessons ESL lesson plan developed by George Chilton
This is my first post of 2013, just made it into January! I hope you enjoy it, and can find a way of using it with your students. As always, your feedback very important to us. You can do that directly through the blog, our facebook page, or on our twitter pages @designerlessons and @becksdad. We’re always open to suggestions and ideas, and I’ll do my best to get back to you in a prompt and timely manner 😉
Lesson: The Black Hole – Description, Discussion and Writing
Level: Trinity Grade 8, B2.2 CEFR, Intermediate to Advanced, teens and adults
Aim: To discuss moral decisions, to describe and plot a video
Cover image by Bionicteaching, Flickr.
Materials and Preparation – a printed black hole, see attachment PDF – blackhole. Print and laminate enough for one copy per group of three. A video – The Black Hole, (Future Shorts, Youtube.com).
I recommend that you download this using Zamzar.com if you want to avoid internet issues in the classroom. Optionally, scenario sentences from Stage One set up and ready for beamer or OHP.
Stage One – Morality
Read out, or preferably, project the following scenarios, and ask your students to finish them individually. Stop after each sentence, and allow two minutes for them to finish each scenario in writing. Stress that they only need to write one or two more sentences.
Note – before they complete the first sentence, elicit the tense – present simple. Explain that we sometimes use the present simple to explain scenarios and jokes. They should follow this when they write their endings.
I find a woman’s purse on the floor, it has her name, address, phone number, photo of her family and the multi-million pound winning lottery ticket from last night. I….
A complete stranger gives me a heavy brown envelope and says, “Whatever you do, don’t open it, post it for me”. I…
- I am very late for work, and I have a presentation to give. I see an old lady struggling with her shopping. She drops her bags and everything falls on the floor in the middle of a busy road. I…
Monitor and guide your students carefully at this stage. Write useful vocabulary up on the board to benefit the whole class.
Afterwards, bring the students together in groups of three. The students should share each scenario one at a time—and compare their answers.
- Which scenario had the most varied answers?
- Who reacted in the most moral way/did the “right” thing?
- Who gave the funniest answer?
- Which scenario was the most difficult for them to finish and why?
Each group should share one scenario with the whole class. Then ask the class to decide which group was the most morally responsible, and which was the least.
Stage Two – Vocabulary Building
This stage is designed to help students build their vocabulary. It should push them to use their imaginations, and their dictionaries. It would be a good idea, if you have learner dictionaries available, to hand them out at this point. Distribute one laminated black hole per group.
Tell them to be careful, and to avoid touching the centre of the hole. Explain that it is a magic black hole.
They can use it for good, or for bad – and the choice is theirs. But first, they must decide on, and explain exactly what it does.
Give them some time to imagine what it can do – have them brainstorm their ideas and look up relevant vocabulary. They should then present their answers to the group. They should focus on using descriptive language. Give them the following conditions:
- They must describe what it does
- They should say whether they use it for good or for bad
- They have to give a concrete example of how they use it
Example answer: This black hole allows the user to transport themselves to other places in the world. The user has complete control; we use this black hole for good, teleporting ourselves to dangerous situations and saving people from trouble. Make sure that you monitor the groups at this stage – give them prompts and suggestions if they are struggling to think of uses.
- An infinite storage device – allowing you to keep and carry anything very easily
- A way of seeing through walls
- A way of breaking into buildings
Give the students ten minutes for this section, allow them one minute to present their ideas at the end.
Stage Three – The Black Hole – Consequences
Tell the Students that they are going to watch a video about a man who also has one of these magic black holes.Play the video up to 50 seconds – and have the students describe the scene.
- How is the man feeling?
- What do they think he does?
Continue the video and play through to the end. Have the Students reflect on the video, using the following questions:
- Were they surprised by his actions?
- Would they have done the same thing?
- What did he do wrong?
- Did they like the ending?
- Did he deserve it? (you might need to pre-teach deserve)
- What do they think will happen next?
Plot – I’ve highlighted some useful vocabulary
Have the students individually plot the stages of the story.
- Man is at work, at the end of the day. He is photocopying, and drinking coffee.
- The photocopier is faulty. It prints a strange black hole.
- The man checks the scanner, but it is empty.
- He finishes his coffee and puts the cup down, on to the black hole.
- The coffee falls in the hole – confusing the man.
- He tests the hole and discovers its properties.
- The man uses the hole to steal a chocolate (candy) bar from the vending machine.
- The man gets an idea – he opens a locked door.
- He walks over to the safe.
- He attaches the hole and begins to steal the money.
- He gets greedy and climbs in.
- The hole falls off the safe door, trapping him inside.
They should then come together in pairs in order to compare their plots. Replay the video and ask the pairs to compare their plot to the original. Did they get everything in the right order? Did they miss anything?
Stage 4 – Writing, Homework or classwork
Have students finish the story. Give them the following questions as prompts – or others of your choice:
- Who finds him?
- What does the person do with the money on the floor?
- Do they help the man?
- We assume the man survives, what does he tell the police?
- We assume the person who finds him keeps the hole. What do they do with it?
Now where did I put my keys?
Designer Lessons by George Chilton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
- Scientists baffled by gargantuan black hole (latimes.com)
That’s great. Thanks for sharing your expertise.
My pleasure Graeme, I hope it works well for you.
Well done piece of work, thanks.
I am going to use it with my seniors today. Though you missed the ending -s in the Plot section: checks the scanner.
Hi Victoria, thanks for your comment – I hope the class goes well for you. Fixed the mistake 🙂
It went just perfect, thanks! I would specify the vocab, though. You mentioned ‘help with the relevant vocab’, what kind of vocab would you recommend?
Good question, but I’m not sure there’s an answer! I’d say every group is different.
I tend to describe these classes as student-centred – that might sound vague, but that generally means the students are producing the language themselves, rather than being provided with it.
It’s difficult to predict the vocabulary that the students will need , but I’d imagine, for the most part, it will be functional – describing what the object can and can’t do, its benefits, drawbacks, etc.
You could give them language chunks to help them describe certain things, which I do sometimes recommend with lower-level groups, but in this case it might be counter-productive; the students could become limited to this language,and that will impede their production and experimentation. For this reason, I’d suggest leaving the students ‘get stuck’ and not know how to say something.
Giving them a problem like that is beneficial, as they become motivated to find the word, or the phrase themselves. I think it’s always positive to try and encourage autonomy.
If they don’t know how to say something, they become aware of the gap in their knowledge. I find the same for myself in Spanish – unless I know I don’t know something, I can’t learn it! I really believe that creating that need-to-know feeling is part of motivation, and also helps the students internalise the new language – as they have contextualised it themselves.
I used this lesson the other day when I had to cover an adult upper intermediate class. It went down a treat, there was plenty of laughter and a chance for the budding scriptwriters and actors to strut their stuff.
They learnt new verbs such as to reach, to photocopy, to get stuck etc. and they came up with some great endings to the story.
Thanks for the tips
That’s a great idea!
good lesson idea. cheers¡
brilliant. thank you very much. Phuket, Thailand
Before I found this excellent lesson plan, I was going to show The Black Hole to my creative writing students here in Bulgaria as a launch pad for their own writing. You’ve given me some great fresh ideas to expand on my thinking. Thank you.