Six original topical teaching ideas for October

All right, I fully expect that EVERY teacher has a Halloween lesson prepared so I’m not even going to bother “going there” as they say. No, this is the place for slightly different topical teaching ideas. I call this my “open source” materials writing. Here’s a germ of an idea, you grow it into a full activity or lesson.

1. Teach about dinosaurs! For all you young learner teachers (and hey, why not the adults too?) this month is International Dinosaur Month. Actually, I’m not sure if it is anymore, because the website about it doesn’t seem to have been updated for a few years now. But who cares? It’s a good excuse to do a dinosaur-based lesson. Get children to describe dinosaurs, design their own, compare them or make a story with them. More dinosaur lesson ideas here.

2 Discuss ageism! October 1 was the United Nations International Day of Older Persons. This is a good opportunity to have a class discussion on issues of age or ageism (depending on your class level).  I’ve always found there is lots of mileage in talking about what’s the best age to get married, have children, retire etc. You can find information and potential sources for texts about ageing here.

3 Explore silly science! This month the Ig Nobel prizes are awarded. A parody of the Nobel Prize, the Ig Nobel is awarded to achievements that make people laugh, and then make them think.  One of my favourites was from 2007, an experiment that discovered that hamsters recover more quickly from jetlag when given Viagra. Great stuff for a reading lesson and discussion on science in general perhaps. To see more check out the wikipedia entry.

4 Think big. October 12 marks the ten year anniversary of the  Day of the Six Billion, when the earth’s population reached six billion people. There is an old website here that could provide interesting material on the positive and negative aspects of population growth. Potential also for a short activity on vocabulary of big numbers (eg we say six billion, not six billions).

5. Go Wild. This month the film version of Where the Wild Things are comes out. I don’t expect it will be much good, even if it is directed by Spike Jonze, but the picture book is an American children’s classic.  I think you can find a video version of the picture book on YouTube. Again, this would be a great read-aloud for kids classes if you can get a hold of it.

6. Go Global. This month, a sample of my upcoming book will be released on the net. It’s going to be like a “try before you buy” and will contain several lessons, audio material, teacher’s notes and an essay by a well known methodologist. I’m very happy that Macmillan has agreed to do this, for free, as there is often a shroud of secrecy around upcoming coursebooks. So keep your eyes open for it! I’ll be posting more about this in the next week or two.

Published in: on October 4, 2009 at 9:25 am  Comments (22)  
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  1. Actually, the trailer for the movie looks fantastic (but I suppose these things always do….)

    My boys love that book. All the eye rolling, teeth gnashing and fork-based dog chasing is irresistible.

    • Yep, it is a favourite of my boys too.

  2. And how about the 6 wonders of Budapest?? How did you like the city? Thanks for the Pecha Kucha night, was a blast!

    • The six wonders of Budapest would be a very good list, but could I restrict it only to six? Difficult!

      • Well, there’s a challenge for you:)

  3. Today (5th October) is World Teachers’ Day … more significant in some parts of the world than others. Frank McCourt’s entertaining memoir, Teacher Man, contains loads of great passages that could be extracted and exploited in class. Or, if you want something more up-to-date, how about a discussion about one of the ‘rate your teacher’ websites? Here’s a useful article that could get things going

    • Thanks Philip for dropping by and adding another great idea to the list. I have only just now found out about Teacher’s Day, in Mexico it was mid May. May I also second Philip’s recommendation of Teacher Man, a great book.

  4. Isn’t this the Obama symbol carved into the pumpkin?

    • OMG. Is it really? I hadn’t noticed, it was a free photo that I found on Morguefile and thought more original. Oh well. Cool.

  5. How do you think a “Rate my Student” site would go over?

    • I’ve been searching through past comments or posts to find another reference to this but I can’t find it. I’m intrigued, (or maybe just don’t get it). What kind of site would that be?

      • Two comment up – rate my teacher site in Germany ; D

      • Got it! You are right, rate my student would be …. interesting. Talk about turning the tables. Can you imagine Sandy Macmanus starting up such a site 😉

      • Hey, don’t give me ideas, Lindsay! Anyway, I reckon that a Rate My Students site would be a bit smutty – or maybe that’s just my perverse view of the idea.

        Actually, one already exists, and it’s extremely good, I’d say:

        Now, what about a Rate My DOS site? There’s plenty of room for potential there, I’m sure!

      • Lindsay, there’s already a ‘Rate Your Students’ site in existence – has been around for several years, I believe.

        You should be able to find it here:

        Meanwhile, I reckon a ‘Rate your DoS’ site could be a runner…

      • Rate your DoS would indeed be a prime site. You had better copyright that idea quickly!

  6. The only man for the job!

  7. Great ideas Lindsay… as always!

    There’s more on Dinosaurs here if there are any YL teachers out there who take up your first idea.

    Looking forward to the preview of your new book! Jo.

  8. Oops – apologies for the double posting! The first one didn’t show up on my computer, so I ‘paraphrased’ a second one…

  9. Came across your post while looking for topical ideas. Here are some ideas I’ve built up about using the web to create topical classes:

    • Nice site – I didn’t know about this one. Thanks for the link.

      • Thanks. I’ve even written a short article about you. It’s a wiki so you can even edit it. 🙂 Bob

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