Sunday, April 14, 2019

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowlings: Book Review (Scripted)



Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:
http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2006/04/harry-potter-and-goblet-of-fire-by-jk.html

Shazam

(Movie Review)

My History With Captain Marvel
The strange legal history of Captain Marvel, as well as his awkward place in the D.C. Universe, has long been a source of fascination for me.  I've mentioned it before several times on this blog--HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE for example.

This is also, incidentally, the first D.C. Universe movie I've seen.  Although I've long been a fan of the comic books, the movies have been getting such horrible reviews that I've just stayed home.

The Review  ***SPOILERS***
Having long had a bizarre fascination with Captain Marvel (see the links above), I was predisposed to be interested in this movie. 
And I liked it.
There are some weak points.  The plot is a bit too contrived.  The bully characters are a bit too cliche.  And the movie is not as funny as it thinks it is.  Asher Angel--the actor who plays Billy Batson--is good, but a lot of the banter at the beginning of this movie between Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman was not funny and just groan worthy.
But Zachary Levi, the actor who plays Captain Marvel, redeems the whole movie.  He is great.  Not only is he really funny, and does great in all the comedic parts, but he also does such a good job of really selling the idea of a kid in a grown man's body. 
I liked the fact that the whole Marvel family was involved.  When all the kids went through the magic door together to fight the bad guy, the movie had a Goonies type vibe of this gang of kids together on an adventure.
And then (**SPOILERS***) I was really very pleasantly surprised when they all got super powers in the final scene.  I mean, since I was familiar with the comics, I knew that Freddy and Mary were obviously being set up to be Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr.  But I thought it was just an Easter Egg they weren't really going to pay off.  Or if they did, it would be in some sequel down the road.  I didn't think this movie would embrace the zaniness of the original comic book source material by bringing in the full Marvel family, but I'm so glad it did. 

More Nitpicks
* I realize at this point it's not really sporting anymore to point out how much the DC Cinematic Universe is failing compared to Marvel, but... what was up with that Superman cameo at the end in which they couldn't even get the Superman actor to appear?  Could you imagine a Marvel movie doing that? Could you imagine Marvel not being able to negotiate a cameo appearance, and so having to hide the character's face out of frame?

Rating :
7 out of 10 Stars.  A flawed movie, but still a fun movie.

Video Review
Video Review HERE and embedded below



Link of the Day
Chomsky: Arrest of Assange Is “Scandalous” and Highlights Shocking Extraterritorial Reach of U.S.

Monday, April 08, 2019

If any changes, what will you do?

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

...actually I think I've got this one, but I'll throw it out to the blogosphere for a second opinion.

During an activity in which the students were supposed to brainstorm possible job interview questions, a student wrote the sentence "If any changes, what will you do?"

I corrected it as "If there are any changes, what will you do?"

The student was confused.  "But why do I need a full clause?" she asked.  "Don't we often use abbreviated phrases like 'If possible' or 'If necessary' without any subject in the If-Clause?"

Thinking on my feet, I said those were different because those were adverbial clauses.  Then I changed my mind and said they were adjectives.  (Both "possible" and "necessary" can modify nouns, right?  "a possible plan" or "a necessary plan")
The Assassination of Richard Nixon: Movie Review (Scripted)



Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:
http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2006/04/oh-movies-ive-seen-part-3.html

Sunday, April 07, 2019

A Joke A Day Part 3

(TESOL Worksheets--Comprehensible Input)
Google Drive Folder HERE
Slideshow: slidespub



So, back in June I said I was trying to bring "A Joke A Day" back into the classroom.  It's corny, but it works really well with 10-12 year olds. 
I've found that the bigger the slideshow gets, the longer it takes to load on slow Internet connections.  So once I got to 200 slides, I restarted with a new slideshow.  So here is part 3.

I say this every time, but I am really getting desperate for good jokes.  Every week I'm like, "Oh, what am I going to do for this lesson?" 
It's difficult to find good jokes that would be understandable to children who are learning English as a second language.
So... if some of these jokes seem a bit desperate, it's because they are. 
Please let me know if you have any good jokes.  Leave them in the comments or something.

For the first Joke a Day collection, see HERE.
For the second, see HERE.
The Life of Emile Zola: Movie Review (Scripted)



Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:
http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2006/04/oh-movies-ive-seen-part-3.html

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Staging an IELTS Lesson

(TESOL Ideas--IELTS, Lesson Planning)
Google: docs, pub
[This was a worksheet I made discussing the staging of an IELTS lesson for a revised version of my workshop on IELTS.  The CELTA staging framework (which I use as a point of contrast) are HERE. ]

Receptive Skills (Reading and Listening)
For receptive skills, I don’t think the CELTA staging framework fits the IELTS class.  On the actual exam, no one will set the context for the student, no one will pre-teach the vocabulary, and there is no opportunity for gist listening.  (Students can do a gist reading if they want, but they have to teach themselves how to do it.  No one will give them a gist question).

So I often use Test-Teach-Test instead.

Test
Give students a section from a reading or listening practice.  Have them attempt it, and then check their answers with the partner.
I then usually put the correct answers on the board, and have students self-check.  (This avoids embarrassing students who get the wrong answer).  Then students have some time to discuss the answers with a partner, and figure out why these are the correct answers.  (For listening exercises, I give the students a written transcript at this point). Then class feedback consists of the students explaining to me why these were the correct answers (e.g. where they were in the text, what were the synonyms, what were the distractors).
Next students are put into groups and discuss what they found difficult about the test.  (i.e. if they got something wrong, why did they get it wrong).  During class feedback, groups tell me what was difficult, I put the problems on the whiteboard, and then we discuss possible strategies and solutions.

Teach
Introduce a subskill or strategies for a task-type.  Do controlled practice with it.
Controlled practice often means using very short passages.  For example, when practicing True/False/Not Given, instead of having to read a long passage, students are given only one or two sentences and a T/F/NG question related to that one sentence.

Test
Students complete another practice test section.  Compare answers and feedback as above.

Exam Rules
Also, at some point in the lesson, there is a game (board race, treasure hunt, quiz game) to focus the students’ attention on the rules and strategies for this section of the test.


Productive Skills (Writing and Speaking)

For productive skills, I find that the CELTA framework can actually transfer very well to the IELTS class.  (See backside for Productive Skills CELTA framework).
I make some small additions.

For the model text section of the CELTA framework, I usually give the students the question in advance of the text, and we brainstorm strategies for answering it before I give them the model.  e.g “Here is a question for Writing Task 2.  With your partner, think of 3 reasons to agree, and 3 reasons to disagree.”

With the writing especially, I try to have some sort of game/activity involved in re-constructing the model text.  e.g. put the sentences in order, match the discourse markers to the blanks, match the topic sentences to the paragraphs, put the paragraphs in order, etc.  These can also be turned into running dictations or treasure hunts.

The “focus on the useful language” section of the CELTA framework can be used to focus on a variety of things--grammar and lexis, but also structure and content.  (But not all in the same lesson of course.)

At some point in the lesson, I add in an extra stage that focuses on the exam rules and useful tips and strategies.  I try to make this into a game (e.g. board race, treasure hunt, quiz game)


Bananas: Movie Review (Scripted)



Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:
http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2006/04/oh-movies-ive-seen-part-3.html