We started with a ‘Find someone who’ activity based on information from their speed-writing about Easter in the last class. It got them on their feet and talking, and it appealed to their memories, all of which made it a success. We then did a big conditionals workout in the context of environmental issues from Beyond Unit 4. This involved a sequence of controlled practise activities followed by a discussion of issues. One sentence in particular generated debate: If humans were less intelligent, they wouldn’t have done so much damage to the planet.
After the break, we did some more work with the reader Owl Hall. Two students missed the last class, an opportunity for some real communication as their classmates told them what happened chapters 1 & 2. We then read and listened to chapter 3. Once again, complete silence. Before the break, I was having to work hard to keep them attentive, but there was no need now. In the chapter, the protagonist writes a blog entry, and we stopped reading to visit the Owl Hall website, where students could read it. This impressed them – a reader with a website! They were even more impressed when the protagonist films a tour of Owl Hall - an old manor house which really exists - on her mobile, and were able to watch that online too. It got a ‘Wow!’ from one student and a ‘Qué guai!’ (How cool!) from another. I asked them to read chapters 4 and 5 at home, and posted some questions for them to think about on our class Edmodo page.
I was left wondering why I hadn’t used readers before in class. Owl Hall is fairly easy for them, but that’s partly why it’s working so well. Students said they liked being able to read it at home without a dictionary, and just enjoy the story. And meanwhile they get the benefit of some high quality contact with natural English and seeing all those things they study in a meaningful context. Time well spent!