An unusual reunion – lesson plan

It seems quite appropriate that this is the first post on my blog, since it links back to the event that got me thinking seriously about technology and teaching. I shall set the scene.

Friday 30 October 2009. I had just returned from a trip to Spain and was feeling pretty low, having just received quite a shock in my personal life. It had also been a pretty hard time to teach at my college, too, with colleagues being off long-term sick and the rest of the staff bearing the brunt of covering their lessons. In short, I was a bit disillusioned (and this is in only my third year of full-time teaching!). Looking back, it was probably a little silly to feel that way but, figuratively speaking, I needed a kick up the back-side. I was lucky.

I went to the Language Show at the Kensington Olympia in London with the sole intention of chalking up a few hours of professional development and plotting an escape route back to Spain (I’m still thinking about that one). Little did I know that I would see such an interesting presentation that would set me on this route. I saw Jamie Keddie giving a talk about using YouTube. From this I got involved with piloting lessons which you can find on Jamie’s TEFLclips website, joined Twitter (something I thought I would never do), and realised there was a whole community of ELT and educators out there with websites and blogs. My kick up the back-side. Since then I have learnt a lot, and this lesson plan is the first fruit of that learning. I hope there is more to come.

PS – I used this plan for a non-Christmassy Christmas lesson, but I am sure that it would do at almost any time of the year πŸ™‚


Level: Intermediate and above
Age: Young adults and upwards
Topics: visualisation, story/narrative, friend collocations
Grammar focus: narrative tenses
Time: 45mins-1hr

I would be grateful for any comments you have πŸ™‚

14 thoughts on “An unusual reunion – lesson plan

  1. Hi Mike!

    very pleased to hear that a visit to a workshop marked a turning point for you. I can claim part of the credit as we gave Jamie a bed for the night before his talk, and made sure he had a good breakfast before he went off to Olympia. πŸ™‚

    The Christian the lion film is just astonishing, and I hope your students enjoyed it.

    Have a great 2010!


  2. Ken, many thanks for your comment.

    That is funny as it seems to confirm something I’ve noticed since starting reading blogs and tweeting – the connections and relationships among teachers and teaching professionals. I wonder, has anyone ever compiled a ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ for ELT πŸ˜€

    It must have been a good breakfast!


  3. Hi Mike, it was interesting to read your blog, as I’m just discovering how much can be shared and learned through blogs and twitter and the like… I guess I’ve found talking to people doing similar things in different places really useful. I’ve decided that I’ll try and start a blog as well – I’ve done this in the past, and never really got past about 4 posts, but I think I’ve got a bit more focus now.

    Thanks for pointing out Jamie Keddie’s blog, I’ve just had a quick look and it’s got some fantastic ideas on it.

    The only problem with this whole PLN thing, is avoiding information overload!

    • Hi Phil,

      Thanks for your comment. I certainly agree with what your saying. Sometimes it seems like there is just so much out there, and so many good ideas, that it is a bit overwhelming. It was certainly chief among my thoughts about starting a blog – do I have enough to say? I’m finding the ideas coming more readily now, and I know there’s a lot out there to inspire (check out the sites in the Blogroll and you’ll see what I mean) πŸ™‚

  4. Beautiful story and interesting lesson plan, Mike. At the beginning and even after watching the first clip, the story doesn’t make much sense…until you watch the second part, but that’s what it’s all about πŸ˜‰ I’d even pause the clip and let Ss take a guess at how they think the three friends/ the lion will react


  5. Hi Eva

    Thanks for your comment. If I did the lesson again I think I would follow your suggestion and pause just before the hug.

    Jamie Keddie also mentioned an interesting idea to use clips that tell a story and your own voice to add an extra layer to the activity. In a nutshell, tell the students the whole story (or an abbreviated version) without giving away the key piece of information (that Christian is a lion). This would probably work well as some kind of dictation activity.

    I’ll definitely use this one again πŸ™‚

  6. Hi Mike

    Congratulations on your new blog. I wish you lots of success with it. You will find a whole new universe just waiting to be explored.

    I have enjoyed looking through your excellent lesson with great lesson plan! I’d like to use this with a future Intermediate class as it looks really fun and I am sure students would enjoy it a lot. Thank you very much for sharing it.

    Thanks for taking the time to look through my blog. I look forward to learning and sharing with you in the future.

    All the best


  7. Brilliant lesson! Oddly, when I was at home I told my little brother about this video and that I’d look for it for him, amazing that you’ve got it here and in a lesson plan format – love it, the structure of the lesson’s great and all the ideas, such fun!!!


  8. Janet

    Thanks so much for the kind words. I’m certainly starting to realise the vast potential there is blogging. I’m just amazed at how it allows people to share and be connected πŸ™‚ The only thing when you start is the enormity of it all – sooo many things to read, time management definitely becomes a factor – just difficult as it’s all so interesting!
    I’m glad you like the lesson and are planning to use it. I would be really interested to know how it goes.


    Thanks for the kind comment. I really had fun coming up with this lesson. It took a while to get around to ‘testing’ it, but then I used it 3 times in a week (with different groups, of course). I was quite surprised as the best response I got with the lesson actually came when I used it with a pre-intermediate/intermediate class. They were quite imaginative! πŸ™‚

  9. Hello Mike
    I just came across your new blog and excellent lesson plan. Just wanted to say that I’m honoured to be mentioned in your first posting and really happy that my presentation made an impression that day. Hope to see more similar lesson plans on the way.
    By the way, any more thoughts on a move to Spain?
    Jamie πŸ™‚

    • Hi Jamie

      I enjoyed the Language Show. I only wish I’d got around to see a few more talks though – common problem with these things I guess, that there are lots of interesting things to see, but they’re either on at the same time or on different days. I also had a mini CatalΓ‘ lesson with somebody named JesΓΊs which was odd (not the best teaching environment in an enclosed area with no walls and the rest of the show going on around you).

      Spain is a thought going around in the back of my head at the moment, where and how being two big things to ponder. I was in Pamplona 2007/08 with IH and didn’t have the best experience teaching-wise there. An odd DOS and stranger School Director with seemingly little concept of what is feasible for teachers (“You want a conversation class? 5-6 Friday afternoon? Fine, we’ve definitely got someone who can do that” – a bit cynical maybe, but still a bit rough on teachers)

  10. Hi Mike,

    So strange because I was at Jamie’s super workshop at The Language Show, too. And now, here we are on your blog – as a result of tweeting together!

    I think your lesson plan is fantastic. The clip brought a little tear to my eye. I’m sure that most of our ESOL students could empathise with the feelings displayed so well in this reunion, and would engage really well with the activities you suggest. It reminds me a bit of the airport scenes in the film ‘Love, actually’.

    I hope that, eventually, I’ll be able to produce something to this standard. Nice one.

    Callie πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Callie!

    It’s good to see you here! I have to say I really did enjoy planning the lesson with this video. I have to say that I haven’t used it with a group of ESOL students, but rather groups of what you might call EFL students but here at my college. I do hope that the lesson wouldn’t upset any learners. I’d be interested to know what happens if you ever use the plan πŸ™‚


  12. Pingback: The Language Show 2010 | Mike Harrison's Reviews

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