Nov 29, 2015

10 things you can do with "10 things you didn't know last week"

10 things you didn't know last week is a digest of news snippets published every Friday on the BBC website. You can find it in a section called Magazine Monitor. The items chosen for inclusion tend be offbeat and quirky news - very often to do with science. Each story is linked to its source - on the BBC website or elsewhere on the web.


Below are some ideas on how you can use 10 things you didn't know in class. You will see that all of them require no preparation on the part of the teacher.



The suggestions are based on the latest digest published on 27 November, which you can see HERE.

1. What do you know?

Hand out a printout of 10 things you didn't know... - see below. Students discuss in pairs or groups which is the most interesting / unusual / surprising, which ones they have heard about and which ones they would like to find out more about. Get feedback from each group.

2. Mini 'webquest'

Students are sent the link to the BBC page with clickable Find out more links. On smart phones or tablets, they follow the links, skim through the stories and report back to the class what they found out.

3. Read and report

Each student chooses or is assigned a news item. They follow the link at home, read the related article and present to the whole class what they've learned in the following lesson.

4. (Pre-)teaching new vocabulary

The 10 headlines are bound to have some unknown words, for example, the bubonic plague or trunk. These might not be particularly useful vocabulary for students to learn (but probably have to be pre-taught before doing Activity 1), but a K4 word such as "suppress" can be taught for active use:

SUPPRESS - prevent from being seen or expressed.
suppress your anger / annoyance / smile / painful memories / vital evidence
See more examples in the Cambridge Online Dictionary

5. Vocabulary collection

As a follow up to number 3, each student finds and shares with the class 5-6 lexical items from the article. This can be new vocabulary items or words/collocations/chunks students have learned in class (and, possibly, used in a different context).

For example, when assigned the article on loneliness and the immune system (no 3 in this week's list), upper-intermediate (B1) students may choose the items highlighted in yellow (new) and green (already familiar), as can be seen HERE

The highlighting has been done with the help of the online bookmarking tool Diigo. To see how Diigo can be used for this purpose, see my post: Highlighting Lexical Chunks with Diigo


6. Questions

If more than one student reads the same story, each one can prepare a number of comprehension questions to ask those who have read the same article.

7. Target audience

Inspired by Karenne Sylvester's 10 Speaking English Activities using TED
After students have read and presented their stories in class (Activity 3), use the following (critical thinking) questions to facilitate discussion: Who would find this story interesting? Men or women? Professionals? Which story is relevant to you personally / your country? Would you forward this to your friends? You can also ask students to vote for the most important "discovery" of the week.

8. Summary / Writing

After students have read a story, they write a short paragraph summarising the main points. NB. This might not work with all links. Some sources, for example Daily Mail, start articles with a brief summary presented as bullet points.


After you've used 10 things a few times with students and they know the routine (discuss - read - report), you can try some 'more advanced' ideas:

9. Gaps - content (Prediction)

Blank out the content/key words and get students to predict in pairs or groups. See the embedded handout below or download it HERE

10. Gaps - lexical

Blank out parts of chunks and ask students to work out what the missing words are before handing out a page with 10 full headlines. See page 2 of the handout with parts of chunks or prepositions gapped out.


13 comments:

  1. Hi Leo!

    I found these to be really interesting ideas to do in class. I sure will try them out.

    1. For what age groups and levels of English would you recommend it (I teach in Israel)?
    2. Would you say that the news items brought on this BBC page would interest aמ average Israeli student?
    3. Which activities would you recommend to use as a homework assignment?

    Thanks!
    Meshulam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Meshulam,

      Happy to hear that you found the ideas interesting. To answer your questions:

      1. High school. Or Middle (Junior High) but you might have to simplify or pre-teach some vocabulary.

      2. I'd say yes. Please note that the contents change every week - it's a weekly digest. And the content is not only from the BBC but from across the web. Also, you'll see that one of the activities actually ask students to decide if an item is interesting or to rank them in terms of interest. (activity 1)

      3. Activities 3,5,6 and 8 can be or even should be used for homework.

      Thank you for visiting my blog!

      L

      Delete
  2. Really like these Leo.
    I'm sure that 'K4 words' must have something to do with frequency, but can you gloss it?
    Thanks,
    Sandy

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Sandy.
    Glad you liked them.
    Yeah you're right it has to do with frequency. K1 and K2 are high frequency words in English, the first one thousand (1-1000) and the second thousand (1001-2000) words respectively. Students need to know about 3000 words (K3 level) to be able to understand TV programmes in English but in order to read novels or newspapers, they'd need knowledge of 8-9000 words, which means they need a lot of mid-frequency vocabulary too.

    You can see the lists here: www.lextutor.ca/list_learn/bnc_coca/. Choose basewrd 1/2/3... to see which words are in the K1/2/3 bands. You'll see that "depart", "fake" and "tribute" are in the K4 band, which are quite important words to know, if you ask me :)

    Thank you for stopping by,

    L

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Sandy.
    Glad you liked them.
    Yeah you're right it has to do with frequency. K1 and K2 are high frequency words in English, the first one thousand (1-1000) and the second thousand (1001-2000) words respectively. Students need to know about 3000 words (K3 level) to be able to understand TV programmes in English but in order to read novels or newspapers, they'd need knowledge of 8-9000 words, which means they need a lot of mid-frequency vocabulary too.

    You can see the lists here: www.lextutor.ca/list_learn/bnc_coca/. Choose basewrd 1/2/3... to see which words are in the K1/2/3 bands. You'll see that "depart", "fake" and "tribute" are in the K4 band, which are quite important words to know, if you ask me :)

    Thank you for stopping by,

    L

    ReplyDelete
  5. The site is an excellent resource and your suggestions have great potential
    Thank you,
    Steve Hellmann

    ReplyDelete
  6. These are good point that there are many people have who forget what he have to done. As a result they didn't complete their task. So they can get help from your post.

    ReplyDelete

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