A lesson for all seasons
This lesson plan is one for any time, any where, any students…
1 Show the four images below. Ask your students to choose one and think (not talk) about why that particular image appeals to them. Allow them plenty of thinking time.
2 Tell them about the picture you choose, but don’t say explicitly which one you’ve chosen. For example, “This makes me think of summer, and of home. It reminds me of the smell, and of sitting outside on a summer’s day with my friends, maybe between classes at university. For me it’s a particularly British smell!” Ask the students to guess which picture you’re talking about (I guess you’ve guessed my picture! )
3 Ask your students to do the same in pairs or small groups. When you ask them to feed back to the whole class, ask them for the key words in each description that helped them understand which image each person was talking about. Collect any new or interesting words on the board alongside the images.
4 Ask the students to think about their image again, and ask them to imagine that they are in the scene. Ask them to activate all their senses and to think about and register all the things they can see, hear, smell, feel (and possibly taste?) . Allow them some quiet thinking time to tune in to their scene. They may want to close their eyes. You may want to guide their visualization with some prompts e.g. look around you, what can you see? Sit completely still for a moment, listen to every sound in the scene. Take a deep breath, what smells are on the air? Look down at the skin on your hands and arms, feel the skin on your face, what sensations are you feeling?
5 Now ask the students to make a note of all the sensations they can remember. This should be a speed writing exercise. They should just be jotting down their thoughts on paper. They shouldn’t worry about structure or organization. Give an initial time limit, maybe two or three minutes. If they’re still writing at the end of the time (which they usually are), give them an extension of another minute or two.
6 Ask the students to compare what they’ve written. Then ask them to tell their partners where they imagined themselves to be, what time of day it was and what time of year.
7 Pick out language to describe feelings and sensations from each pair or group, focusing on verbs of sensation: feel, touch, smell, see etc and structures using can (e.g. I can see the sun through the trees, I can feel the cold air on my skin, I can smell wood burning )
8 Now ask your students to tell you what their favourite season is and why. You can conduct this as a whole class group to balance the pairwork if you want. Once you’ve established their favourite time of year, ask them what their favourite time of day is at that time of year. Discuss this briefly and then ask where they like to be at that time. Ask them all to imagine that they are in that place now.
9 On the board write: My favourite place / I can see … / I can hear … / I can taste …/ I can feel … . Ask the students to complete the four sentences describing the place they have imagined at the time they have imagined. When they have finished, out their texts out on the floor, or on the walls of the classroom, or on desks or tables in the room and invite the students to walk around in pairs and read each other’s mini texts, discussing the special places and moments each person is describing.
10 Back with the whole class, ask each person to confirm the time and place. I like to leave the texts on the walls of the classroom for other students to read.
Here’s an example:
I can see the colours of the sunset fading into the sea.
I can hear the waves on the shore.
I can taste salt on my lips
I can feel the heat of the day warming my skin.
A note on the images: these are images we used in The Big Picture Advanced. You can use any four evocative, close-up images that resonate for you and your students and the country and context you’re working in.