Has the DOG Run Away with My Ticket?

I was inspired by Magpie Moments “Using Tickets – an Unplugged Approach” lesson to try and adapt this lesson using authentic tickets. The idea for using tickets came from Sandy Millin’s very inspiring (Almost) Infinite ELT ideas blog.

I thought this would be suitable for a beginning of the year activity, when the students are making the switch from the freedom of what is known here as “The BIG Vacation” to the demands of the school year.

However, as I changed the original lesson more and more, I began to wonder if I have lost the “unplugged” aspect of the lesson and it is no longer “Dogme” – hence my question: Has the dog run away with my ticket?

I’ll describe the lesson I’m planning according to Anna’s framework.

Think about it

Anna says “… a topic like transport, journeys or events why not take a bit of time to find out what your learners’ experiences have been. Do they have any stories to tell? Or can they imagine some?”

While some of my teenage students are very active and are experiencing life just like other teenagers, others have an extremely limited life experience. I don’t want students to feel bad that some of their peers went to Europe over the summer vacation while they have nothing “cool” to tell. So I’m going to emphasize imagination. But in order to imagine things, you need to have some knowledge. I’m sure that if I asked those kids what types of tickets they could think of they would be able to think of only one type – either “cinema tickets” or “bus tickets” depending if the child ever rode on the bus alone. So there has to be a section of the lesson that precedes having them imagine things.

Get it ready

It’s great to plan this lesson now – it will be easy to collect a wide variety of tickets over the summer holidays – will ask my friends to help! Unlike Anna, I will not bring in blank colored papers – these are teenagers! A third of them will be new 10th graders, just beginning high-school. At the beginning of the year teenagers are especially concerned about their image – that would seem babyish to them!

Set it up & Let it run

As I teach in the format of a learning center, students will be working on this in pairs or groups of three. In order to be creative later, the students must first see how many different kinds of tickets there are. I plan to scatter a bunch of different kinds of tickets on the table, have the students choose tickets (each one numbered) and fill in a chart on a worksheet looking something like this:

Ticket Number

What is it for?

Which country is it from?

How much does it cost? Would you like to go there?

We did not have an oral discussion before the activity as we speak Hebrew and Israeli Sign Language in class and it wouldn’t serve as a language preparation. Yet we will be discussing background information as they work on filling the chart (unfamiliar names of countries & currencies, unfamiliar concepts such as “a fair”. etc.)

Round it off & Follow up

Now I go back to Anna’s lesson and turn to the WEG style table for the MAGIC TICKET. This will be with Velcro on the back so that it can hang on the wall. Actually there will be more than one sheet as this will be for all the kids, to be filled in over the first week. Each student fills out what he /she would do with a magic ticket to anywhere. The table will look like this:

Type of Ticket Where to? Why?
Dror
Tamar
Sarit
Noam

As the students are from wildly different levels and I basically want them all to do the activity, some students will need more help than others. But that’s the beauty of having it as a beginning of the year activity. In regards to the new 10th graders whose level I’m trying to asses – seeing how much help they need with this activity will give me a great deal of information about their level of English and general world knowledge. In addition, the students will be working in pairs or groups of three so they can help each other too.

Of course, there may be one or two who won’t cooperate at all…. Sigh!

There’s the lesson.

Have I lost the “Dogme” part by adapting it so much? I knew I was teaching “unplugged” that day the students came in wet and we worked on that on the spur of the moment. However, I can’t begin the school year, with a third of the students whom I haven’t met, in such a manner!

So, has the dog run away with my ticket?

6 thoughts on “Has the DOG Run Away with My Ticket?”

  1. Great post Naomi and thanks very much for the mention 🙂 I would like to say that the framework is definitely not mine much as I would love to have come up with it ;-p It belongs to Teaching Unplugged by Thornbury and Meddings and if you like it I’d definitely recommend getting hold of a copy!! 🙂 There’s tons of amazing ideas in it that follow that framework. Especially if you’re interested in teaching unplugged.

    I think technically a “Dogme” lesson has to be entirely based on what comes from the learners in the classroom. Your wet students definitely counts. Unplugged is a little more relaxed hence you get to “Think about it” and “Set it up” but the idea is still that the main content of the lesson comes from the learners.

    To be honest I think a pick and mix approach is always the best… you know your learners better than anyone else and I think it’s great how you adapt ideas and make them your own.

    Sounds like your learners are in for a great start to the year 😀

    Thanks Naomi!

  2. Thank you Anna for confirming my suspicisions – this one is no “dogme lesson”!
    Yet it was only after reading your lesson that it occured to me how much we could do with those tickets!
    I certainly want to read the book and hope to have it by next week.
    The fact that IS possible to have some “unplugged”lessons with these students is one thing I’m sure of. Yet the fact that we don’t speak in English and their incredible lack of world knowledge (which really interferes with their reading comprehension) requires careful planning too.
    I like that phrase – pick and mix! I’ll adopt that one!

  3. That’s just my understanding of dogme (so my lessons rarely count either) but the lesson is definitely on the road to teaching unplugged as the English Raven would say 😀

  4. Ah, but you are letting me share your learning process and that counts for a lot as far as I’m concerned!

  5. I think it’s a great idea and a wonderful adaptation for our students. You’re right, their lack of world knowledge is so great and it definitely affects their comprehension of the texts. It’s a fantastic idea, as it combines fun along with everything you mentioned – enhancing world knowledge as well as assessing their English level and general knowledge. I really like it!
    Tal

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