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A lesson on a TED Talk: Procrastination

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I have been procrastinating on writing this blog post for a while, but let’s see what goes on “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator”!

It is a great and funny talk and fits pefectly to Unit 1 of Pearson’s Longman Exam Accelerator but it can be used independenttly when discussing ways of how we carry out our tasks – whether we are disorganised, distracted, efficient, perfectionists or procrastinators.

In any case students are supposed to know the word procrastination, and could have a discussion of their own personality type. If done together with the Longman book, the lesson works best following hte reading on page 61 (Things to do).

  1. Pre-watching:

Students match words and definitions:

1.  to bump it up a)   (before nouns) related to a government
2.  civil b)  a student’s main subject at college or university
3.  deadline c)   a piece of writing or a talk on an academic subject
4.  government d)  polite
5.  major e)   a long piece of writing that is the final part of an advanced university degree
6.  a paper f)    a way of working
7.  thesis g)   to increase the speed
8.  whole-nighter h)  a specific time or dateby which you have to do something
9.  work flow i)    a whole night that you spend studying while you are at university

2. While watching:

a) Students watch the talk from 0:00 until 2:45 to raise their interest when they summarize what they have just heard using hte words from the first activity.

b) Students watch and listen from 2:45 until 3:38 and fill in gaps in the text:

No, no, it was very, very bad. Anyway, today I’m a (1)……………………………. guy. I write the blog Wait But Why. And a couple of years ago, I decided to write about (2)……………………… My behaviour has always perplexed the non-procrastinators around me, and I wanted to explain to the non-procrastinators of the world what (3)……………………………… in the heads of procrastinators, and why we are the way we are. Now, I had a (4)…………………………………. that the brains of procrastinators were actually different than the brains of other people. And to test this, I found an MRI lab that actually let me (5)…………………….. both my brain and the brain of a proven non-procrastinator, so I could compare them. I actually brought them here to show you today. I want you to take a look carefully to see if you can notice a (6)……………………………. I know that if you’re not a trained brain expert, it’s not that obvious, but just take a look, OK? So here’s the brain of a non-procrastinator.

c) Students are put into three groups. They watch and listen to the video from 3:39 until 10:00. They have to describe how the mind of a procrastinator works but the students in one of the groups listen to and take notes about the instant gratification monkey, the students in the other one about the rational decision maker and the students in the third gourp about the panic monster. They then regroup to have one student from each group and discuss the roles of each participant in the procrastinator’s mind.

d) Finally students watch the rest of hte video and answer the following questions:

  1. What happened when he wrote about it on his blog?
  2. What jobs does he mention?
  3. What was the general answer?
  4. What is the other type of procrastination?
  5. Why is the second type dangerous?
  6. What did he find out about his audience?
  7. Why does he show the Life Calendar?

3. Post-watching:

The follow-up can be a discussion on how they solve similar problems, or writing an essay on the topic or doing a survey on types among their peers.

Key:

Matching task: 1g; 2d; 3h; 4a; 5b; 6c; 7e; 8i; 9f

Gap-fill:  (1) writer-blogger; (2) procrastination; (3) goes on; (4) hypothesis; (5) scan; (6) difference

Answer the questions: 1. He got thousands of e-mails from different people; 2. nurse, banker, painter, engineer, PhD students; 3. Everybody has the same problem; 4. When there is no deadline; 5. The panic monster doesn’t wake up; 6. That everybody is a procrastinator; 7. To be aware of what we are procrastinating on

 

 

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Simple activities with a text for lower levels

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This is a collection of ideas one can do with a text to improve students’ reading skills. And perhaps not only the reading skills. I was trying to do the activities when I thought we had exploited the text in every possible way “dictated” by the coursebook and the students ( weak A2 level) still had problems with it.

  • Actually there were three shorter sections to read, so I grouped the students so that each group was focusing on one particular text. The reading was written in the Simple Present tense first person singular, so the students first had to read it out in third person singular, taking turns to read out the individual sentences.
  • The question words were listed on the board, together with a general revision of word order in questions in the Simple Present tense. Students were now forming questions with those question wors, write them down and finally had to ask and answer those questions.
  • Key words of the three sections were put on cards. The students took a card from the pile placed face down on the desk and they had to define, explain the words to each other: the rest of the group guessed the words.
  • On a different lesson the questions were on slips placed face down on the desk, students took turns to look at a question on slips and answer them. Then placed the questions face up on the desk and simply by looking at the questions tried to retell the story the questions were based upon. Finally the questions were taken away and students had to remember the text they have worked with.
  • One member from the group reads out the text deliberately making factual mistakes. For example if the text says: “I live in Turkey”, the student could say “I live in Norway” – the other students in the group have to listen carefully, and if they spot a mistake, say “Stop!” and correct the mistake. The reader then carries on with the text.
  • As the tasks are very often based on cards, when the groups are ready with one particular series of tasks with a pack of cards or slips, they rotate, i.e. they stand up and move over to a desk, where they find hte cards of the other text(s).
  • Sentences from the texts were taken and cut up into words. The students were in pairs and they had to reorder the cards to make meaningful sentences. When they were ready, I quickly checked the sentences. If they were correct, they could mix/shuffle the word cards, and leave it on the desk, while they were walking to the next desk where another sentence was waiting for them to reorder (previously reordered then mixed up by their peers). With this technique, students move around the classroom, concentrate on the correct order of words, meaning of words, collaborate, and revise the story of simple reading texts.
  • Students took a word – anything they liked. They wrote a sentence demonstrating the meaning of the word, but leaving the word itself out – thus producing a gapped sentence. They fixed the papers with their sentences on the walls of the classroom. The sentences were numbered. The students walked around the classroom and tried to guess the missing words of each of the sentences, by taking note of hte number of the sentence and the word they thought fitted the sentence.
  • Pictures were placed around the classroom walls. Students had to associate the words with one or more of the pictures and explain their choices.