|CC: Roland Zh, Occupy movement,
22 October 2011
I am mad about post-it notes. I first got obsessed with these 3M designed (thank you Dr. Spencer Silver) squares of joy when I read a blog post by Carol Goodey a little over a year ago. And recently over on the Teaching English Face Book page, they highlighted a post-it note lesson plan from Larissa’s Languages. So I thought I would share a lesson I ran last week which makes extensive use of word cards and post-it notes. And as an annoying ranty type thing special awareness raising activity, I purposefully left out one piece of jargon that otherwise would be littering this post. You get 25,000 bonus points if you can guess what it is?
Classroom time: anywhere from 50 minutes to 2 hours depending on how much fun your students are having
Level: mixed ability anywhere from upper-beginners to lower-advanced level.
Target language: modals including must/should/may, plural ‘s’, gerund usage, and so much more
- A nice big thick block of post-it notes.
- A set of job vocabulary cards (which you can grab right here)
Prep: open up your fresh pack of Post-In notes. Print out one set of job vocabulary cards for each group and cut them up so that the words and the image/definitions are separate cards.
- Break the students into groups of 3 to 4. Or even better, leave it up to the students to break themselves into groups. If you have mixed levels in your class, don’t sweat it, this activity is built to accommodate various levels. Trust me.
- Give each group one set of vocabulary cards, well shuffled.
- Sit back and watch as the students start to try and match the vocabulary words to the pictures and the definitions. If they do not start to do this on their own, put together one set for each group to show them how it’s done. If you want, give a set amount of time to complete this task as students don’t actually have to match up every single job and definition to move on to the next step of the lesson.
- Once the students have finished, ask them to pick, as a group, the 5 jobs they are most interested in and the 3 jobs they are the least interested in.
- Have the students line up the vocabulary cards for the 5 best and 3 worst jobs slightly to the right of the the left side of the desk like this:
- Take a post it note and write, “Should be good at…” on it and slap it down at the top and just to the right of the 5 job cards. Put one more post it note next to each job card. It should look like this:
- In my class, students didn’t need any explanation of what they were supposed to do. They simply started to complete the sentences for each of the jobs.
- Once a group has completed most of the sentences, make any necessary error corrections in whatever way you like (I used a red pen, and felt oddly guilty about it). Then take another post-it, write, “Must like to… or Must like…” and place it above the job cards just to the right of the previous post-it note (the one with “Should be good at…”). It will look like this:
- If a group has almost finished up two rows, you can do some error correction and then slap down the next post-it note up at the top. My third post-it note had, “may work in/on/at/Ø ….,” written on it
- Once again, when a group has almost finished completing the row, do some error correction and then place another post-it at the the top, this time with the phrase, “Should be a … person.” At this point, things will probably look something like this:
- Finally, in the space at the top and to the left of the job cards, you can now put the final post it note down. On this post it note, write, “We recommend…” If students need a bit of direction, you can ask them to think about one person in the class who they think would be good at this job. They should write that person’s name on the post-it on the left side of the job card.
- Give groups time to discuss their recommendations with each other. This can be a bit tricky as a sentence like “A nurse may work in a hospital,” will have to be converted into something more along the lines of, “Kenta likes hospitals,” or “Kenta doesn’t mind being in hospitals.” This part of the activity could also be organised as a task in which, after a group explains their reasoning for having recommended a person for a certain job, the other groups are encouraged to change the recommend names and give the reasons for their changes. The discussion continues until the two groups come to agreement on which students in the class best fit the jobs laid out on the table.
- Pass out one more post-it note to each student. Have the students write down on the post-it note what they thought was being taught in the lesson. In my experience, students write down all kinds of things at this point. In my last class, one student wrote “plural ‘s’ with like” while another wrote “using ‘-ing’ with the phrase good at.” Not one student wrote “practice with ‘should’, ‘must’, ‘may'” which was actually my intent with the lesson.
- Tell the students to now pick up all of the cards and post-it notes that they will need to study what they believed to be the main point of the lesson. But they can’t just pick up the cards/post-its, they also need to explain to the other students in their group why they want to take those cards. If more than one student wants a particular card/post-it, they have to negotiate with each other (and probably one student will be forced to make a new post-it or take some notes in the their notebook).
- Pass out a sample interview script using the language from the above activity. Have students who have been recommended for a particular job role-play an interview for that job.
- Have students write a cover letter as if applying for a job which they have been recommend for by other students.
- Role-play an interaction between an employment councillor and a person looking for work which uses the language from the above activity.
Special bonus update: Just wanted to say how pleased I was when Matthew Walker (twitter handle: @esltasks) over at ESLTasks posted a link to a blog post describing how he used this lesson in a teacher training program in Korea. If you’re interested in teacher training, want to see how adults would handle a lesson like this, or just want to check out a great blog, I highly recommend Matthew’s blog: