Thursday, June 30, 2016

Activity Round Up: How Old Is Your Body, Cheese In China, and Washed Up

Welcome to the summer term! Here are three ideas you could use in class.

Scientific topics can be nice in the classroom, as long as they are not too technical and can be easily understood by laypeople. This short video from NPR's science channel, Skunk Bear, is both interesting and easy to understand. Students can use both listening and reading skills to learn some new vocabulary in context and answer some short comprehension questions. This activity would be good in any skill area, for intermediate to advanced students.

Illustration by Tamara Shopsin / Love_Life / Boarding1Now /

Here's a short little article on the growing popularity of cheese in China. I've written some questions to guide students through the reading. The focus is less on comprehension and more on developing autonomy in vocabulary building, as well as finding evidence in a piece of writing that supports the main idea.

Photo by Alejandro Duran

Artist Alejandro Duran has a unique and compelling way of addressing the problem of trash in our world's oceans. His photography project Washed Up consists of photos of debris that washes up on the shores of Sian Ka'an in Mexico, a UNESCO World Heritage site. He arranges the trash in such a way that the viewer can be fooled by what they are seeing, and therefore drawn more closely into the image. He has even mapped some of the trash according to country of origin, to demonstrate the global nature of this problem.

You could use this project in a number of ways in class. Here are a few ideas:
  • Flip through this photo essay in the classroom, and have the students choose the image they find the most interesting. Discuss why it is interesting: is it beautiful, ugly, upsetting, creative, funny, sad?
  • Read the National Geographic article on this project, and do comprehension activities.
  • Ask students to choose a photo from this project and write about it, describing what they see in the image.
  • Ask students to write about a natural place they have visited that is being destroyed by human activity. What is it like to visit that place?

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