Sharing our experiences of works of art – or simply entertainment – is, I think, a fundamental human impulse; whether it is a piece of music, a painting, a poem, a play, a novel, a movie or, as here, a scene from a movie – we love to share what we think it is about, and why it delights or moves us. This task focuses on students engaging in a short presentation of a scene from a movie or TV show that they love, explaining its background and why they enjoy it. The task as presented here is also designed to demonstrate how to scaffold a long turn through preparation, structure and (optional) supporting linguistic input; in the sample provided, I talk for about four and a half minutes – sorry – but to be clear I consider this task a success if my elementary students are motivated to talk for around 30 seconds or so.
- Set the context of movies (this can be extended to TV shows if you prefer). You could do this by drawing attention to some of the movie posters on the frame 1 of Jamboard e.g. ask what they are, elicit the genre etc. Ask the students to discuss the three questions in breakout rooms (BORs). Note that question 3 is more abstract – but it is important for the task and the next step. So if it is too challenging for your class, you might skip it and focus on this issue in the next step. Do brief feedback on their ideas and preferences.
- Zoom in on what makes a scene effective; move to the next frame of Jamboard i.e. The ingredients of an effective scene. Grade / simplify this title if necessary e.g A good scene is / has…. The idea here is for students to brainstorm and try to agree on the qualities of a good scene. If you have time, they can do this for a couple of minutes in BORs, though you can simply do it in the main room e.g. asking for ideas in the chat. Either way, do at least one example before they start, putting a sticky note next to the central image. Option: I have hidden a number of blue sticky notes underneath the central image. If your students struggle to come up with ideas, reveal this, spreading them out across the frame. Teach any items the learners don’t know e.g. soundtrack, cinematography (you may need to do some pron work on that one :-)). Ask the students to discuss which of these are more important to them when they think about a scene they love. All of this is designed to help the next primary preparation stage.
3. Tell students you now want them to think of a favourite scene / a scene they like (do you have a single favourite? I don’t…). Move to the next frame in Jamboard frame 3. I prefer to share my screen at this stage, asking all students to look at Zoom, not Jamboard. This way I can use the highlight option as I talk through the task. Talk through the instructions, pointing out the prompts on the left (you will share this table as a word document shortly): they should use this to take notes (stress this: key words and phrases, not sentences) to help them talk through their favourite scene. NB: remove the reference to talking about it for two minutes if this is intimidating or not level appropriate; as I mentioned before, 30 seconds is a great achievement for some levels. Give students a good amount of individual time for this – 5 or 10 minutes. You can, if it is feasible, put them in rooms on their own, so you can monitor and give individual attention to each learner as they prepare, cycling through each room quite quickly, and helping with language they need. This will of course depend on the size of your group. Let students know they should check Wikipedia or the IMDB if they want to check factual information about their movie (and scene). Honestly, though, I wouldn’t want learners to become overly preoccupied with this as the substance of the task is for them to share their personal views and feelings – factual information is cool, but secondary. In any case, use the chat function to share the document / template designed to help them prepare (again, I stress: adapt this so it works more effectively for your group):
- Once students are ready, put them into groups to present their favourite scenes. Groups of 3 or 4 are perhaps optimal. Before you move students to BORs, share your screen showing Jamboard frame 4 – this lays out the goal / outcome of the task. It will vary depending on whether they are familiar with the scene described or not. Establish the order and timing of presentations, building in time for listeners to react and ask further questions.
- Open the BORs. Monitor discreetly, taking notes of language areas that could be addressed in feedback: excellent language to share, errors to correct, upgrades to what was said.
- After each group has finished, bring them back into the main room to conduct content feedback based on the goal / outcome in step 1. If it is appropriate for your class, you could also ask which of the scenes they heard about they are most curious to watch. I’m slightly wary of giving something so subjective a “competitive edge” but your mileage may vary.
- First of all, take a look at the variations below – I feel this is a task where you need to think carefully about whether students get a clear example and language input before the main task or after the main task. My own preference where possible is to do the task without an example, then listen to an example, and then repeat the task in different groups, having looked at some language that might help scaffold the (hopefully improved) repeated task.
- In this case, I am assuming your learners did the task before hearing an example. Tell them they will now hear your presentation of your favourite scene (if you don’t have the time, you can use the supplied example but as always consider what would be more motivating for your learners – hearing you, their teacher, share their thoughts, or a random person they have little obvious reason to be interested in).
- Play the recording / share your own example, asking learners to focus on the same goal as in Jamboard frame 4. The sample recording can be found on Youtube here. I recorded it using Screencastify to show how, if you wish, you can highlight aspects of the scene on Jamboard as students listen (students too – see Variations below). Live, online, you simply need to talk through your scene using a supporting frame on Jamboard.
- Feedback on student reactions to your scene as per Jamboard frame 4. After completing this content feedback, move to look at some of the language used in the example. Help yourself here by by transcribing a version your scene using software / an App. There are many options for this. I used https://speech-to-text-demo.ng.bluemix.net/, which offered me simple functionality – but of course I did need to review the transcription carefully, correcting issues (especially names).
- Watch the scene: ideally, your students will be able to go on to watch each scene that has just been described, sharing their screens to do so. For instance, here is the scene from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (the first six minutes, the rest is made up of the credits). This may not be possible time-wise, so you’ll need to decide if you want to show all scenes, or stage this across a series of future lessons. Give viewers a task, but perhaps keep it simple e.g. was the description of the scene good / accurate? or simply did you enjoy it, would you watch the rest of the movie?
- Supporting Jamboard: if you have time, using a Jamboard frame – as per the example – is a lovely way to visually support the presentation. Each learner would need a frame into which they add some salient facts about the movie and some supporting visuals. They can highlight elements as they talk, or simply have it as the backdrop.
- Example first: decide whether you wish to give an example of the task before the students do the main task. This could be beneficial depending on the level of the learners, for instance, or their confidence / familiarity with giving long turn presentations (even 1-2 minutes). In this case, what is suggested for the post-task 1-4 above could be done in some form before the main task is undertaken. The transcript of the example could be used to supply useful language to scaffold the task – be very careful though that students do not become preoccupied with using specific forms over expressing their own ideas. Any language input given pre-task should be considered optional and there to help support the task, something that can run counter to a teacher or learner used to PPP.
- Favourite Movie: the task above focuses on a favourite scene from a movie, and suggests a discourse-structure for a long turn sharing this. But adapt as suits e.g. if it is easier / preferable, focus on a favourite movie rather than a specific scene (in which case you might follow a structure of general information about the move and then favourite aspects and why).
- Favourite XYZ: a movie / movie scene works very well. But the task is adaptable to favourite novel, poem, painting, TV show, piece of music etc. The spirit of the task – art that moves us, and why – is more important than the specific content.
Please feel free to refer to the transcript below:
Lexis for describing a movie : it came out in…; it was directed by…; it is set in (place / time)…; it is / was based on (a novel / play by…)…; it stars…; it was produced by…; genres: a thriller, a romantic comedy, a horror movie, a sci-fi movie etc.
Past or present simple, active and passive to describe the background of the movie: David Bowie played / plays the lead role…; it was directed by Nagisa Oshima; it’s a Japan / UK co-production.
Language to talk about important movies: it was a blockbuster, seminal, it’s been copied a lot, critics ignored it at the time, I think X won an Oscar for…
Present simple (and continuous) for describing the scene: Sergeant Hara is in prison and Colonel Lawrence comes to visit him, Just as he’s leaving, Sergeant Hara calls after him…
(Where relevant) Sequencers for ordering the action in the scene: at the beginning of the scene….then…what happens next is….in the end…..
Positive adjectives for expressing one’s opinion / evaluating the scene: moving, breathtaking, exciting, rewarding, memorable, hilarious, well acted…. It’s a powerful performance.
Giving reasons: I love it because…; One of the things / What I find most (moving / exciting etc) is…; there are (two main / lots of ) reasons why I love it, including...