Valentine's Day Brainstorming
I began by writing 'February 14th' on the board and asked students why the date is important. Together students said, 'Sevgililer Günü' (Valentine's Day in Turkish) and I praised them, saying (in English), 'That's right! Valentine's Day'.
I then asked them:
-How do they celebrate? What do they do?
-Why do people celebrate?
(Each question is followed by follow up questions that I didn't put in the post. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like a complete list of discussion questions).
What is love?? (and not the 90s song)
After asking general questions about Valentine's Day, including if students think it is an important holiday and why they like or dislike the day (they loved answering the latter) , I went back to the word love, which at this point should already be written on the board. Emphasizing the word, I circled it. I then asked the students to spend 10 minutes writing their own definition of the word by completing the sentence, 'Love is.....'
This activity was so simple and yet so telling! Students who even at times are reluctant to participate took out their dictionaries to look up new, unfamiliar words and continued to write their ideas. After the allotted time was finished we shared our sentences and discussed them together. Below are some of my favorites:
love is.... everything
love is..... the reason for living
love is.... a chemical reaction
love is.... foolish
love is.... my mother
Popcorn Activity (Love version)
This activity probably goes by a bunch of different names but I learned it as the Popcorn Activity. In this, I gave each student one piece of paper with one question about love and relationships on it. Students then answered the questions anonymously, writing their answers on the paper, crumpled the paper into a ball and threw it to the front of the front of the classroom. (I could have used an empty bin or a bag but had forgotten to bring it to school and this worked just as well). They then were asked to get out of their seats and pick a new paper with a new question. At this point in the year the students were still a bit shy and hesitant to talk about their own personal feelings about the topics so I found this activity incredibly effective. I also saw that the students really enjoyed the activity, especially the moment at the end, after four rounds of getting new questions, when we read the answers aloud and discussed them. Again, if you'd like a list of the questions I used please feel free to contact me.
Paperman Video and Activity
If you've read some of my other posts you have probably realized that I absolutely adore Kieran Donaghy's 'Film-English' website. Even though I don't use 100% of the activities, there are some really great resources on there. Looking at it, I stumbled upon 'The Paperman', a fantastic digital short from Disney. The students loved watching it but what was even more fun for them was the activity we did next. After discussing some general comprehension questions(including if the students believe in love at first sight), I then paired the students and split the silent film into 4 parts: when the two first meet, when he sees her in the building across from his, when he sees her leaving the building and realizes he may never get another chance to meet her, and finally when they meet again at the train station. We then watched it again, stopping at the end of each part and the pairs were asked to write original dialogue for the scene. They had so much fun with this, especially when they were asked to act it out after.
My classes are incredibly long (four hours to be exact) so if you have shorter classes you could chose just two of the activities to do with your class. In our case, after yet another break we then segued into the next activity.
Optional Extension of the Paperman Activity
The Film-English website provides two similar videos which you could ask the students to compare to the Paperman. Here is one: Post-It Love Then again, there are a number of other videos with similar themes. For example, I picked a music video by Koladine called 'All I Want'. It is a popular song and is similar in the sense that the main character works in an office, is attracted to a woman immediately and does something extraordinary that gets her attention. At the same time there are many more differences than similarities. I don't know in the end if the video was perfectly compatible but it did bring out some very interesting discussion in my students. Some said that the scenerio of love was more realistic, which was 'deeper' love and which would last. They debated whether or not the female character was superficial and what they would do if they met someone who was very nice but also very attractive. Could they still fall in love? Finally, they also talked about the 'good guys' and 'bad guys' in the video. Overall, although the higher level students were able to excel in this activity and generally enjoyed it more, almost all of them enjoyed the song and video. Note: It is a huge buzzkill, so if you do end up watching it, be aware that it is a bit sad and edgy. If I do it again, I don't think I'll include it and probably won't put the videos back to back, but it's always an idea.
Other great videos
Bruno Mars Song Cloze and Vocabulary Activity
Talking about Valentine's Day we actually devoted a good chunk of the class to friendship since students seemed more comfortable and more familiar with the topic. To complete our discussion on good friends, we listened toe the song 'Count on Me' by Bruno Mars. Mars is a popular contemporary artist and in the past I have used his songs as cloze activities such as 'It Will Rain' to practice future tense. This song is also quite catchy and not only talks about friendship but also uses good phrasal verbs. So, I created a worksheet for this song (a gap-fill) and also included a part on the various new vocabulary and phrasal verbs within the song. All in all it went very well and the students even asked if we could sing it all together 'Karaoke style' after class.
Update: One more video!