Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Activity Roundup: Key & Peele, A Brooklyn Grocer, And The Whitney

Welcome back! Here are some lesson ideas to start off the fall quarter.



Key and Peele recently finished their popular show, and even high profile people have shown deep admiration for their talents. Humor is always valuable in the classroom, so I looked for a skit of theirs that might be appropriate for classroom use. This skit plays on the idea of a teacher incorrectly pronouncing students' names, which is something our students can certainly relate to. I created an activity that uses the video as a prompt for conversation, so it is well-suited for listening and speaking classes. With some support, I think this video could even be used at the lowest levels. Please be advised that there is strong language in this skit.

Character Study is a weekly column in the New York Times "about the people who make New York City distinctive." The articles are short but chock full of the Times' distinctive sophisticated prose. I chose an article about a grocer in Brooklyn and created an activity in two parts to support it. First, students will examine a word cloud of the vocabulary in the article, sorting the word cloud into meaning-based categories, and using the cloud to make predictions about the content of the article. Then, students are asked to read the article and to pull out details that support three main ideas. This activity is well-suited for reading or writing classes at the intermediate level and higher.

For the last lesson idea, I'm directing you to the online resources at the new and improved Whitney Museum of American Art. The museum's new building includes an education center, and their online resources for teachers are comprehensive. They have organized their teaching resources by the themes of artists as observers, storytellers, experimenters, and critics; you can search for activities by artist, theme, grade, and activity type. I found a writing-based lesson using an Edward Hopper painting and a William Eggleston photograph as input. Students are encouraged to act as observers of the subjects of the artwork, eventually writing narratives about one of the subjects. Writing teachers in Levels 1 through 4 might enjoy this as a first narrative writing lesson.