Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Turning the class into an RPG (Part 1)

I had to teach a shopping lesson this week, and, not having a great time with it was last year, I decided to make things a little bit more interesting. My idea was to play a kind of tabletop RPG with the students, where they would kit out a character with armour, weapons, food and potions and then pit them against each other the following week.

Discucssing the idea with my colleague, he seemed really interested too, so we started sketching out simple rules such as how much damage each weapon would do, how much defense each piece of item would give etc. After rehearsing it a few times ourselves, we finally came up with a system that seemed fair and would allow students to customise their characters so that groups wouldn't all buy exactly the same stuff.

1. Watch the presentation

Here is the presentation that I showed the students at the start of the "shopping class".

Rpg shopping lesson
View more presentations from James York
Not all of the rules are included on purpose: so that the students have to ask. Another point is that in the above presentation my colleague (and my) face appear. In the actual presentation, these are videos explaining how to use the different weapons.
Another thing which is not explained is: "How do we win?"
Well, once a characters armour has been reduced to 0, that group have to answer a question. If they get it correct, they don't lose a life, but if they get it wrong, they lose one of their three lives: ♡♥♥. This continues until they lose all three of their lives. As for the questions they have to answer... they will be decided by each group individually and should have something to do with their classes major.
2. Decide as a group which weapon you want to buy
After watching the presentation I handed out a "shop" worksheet to each group in the class and told them to keep their items a secret (so that students would have to ask what each shop is selling and how much items cost). I also handed each group their character worksheet that appears in the above presentation.
At this point, I was asked a number of questions. Some of the most common ones are:
  1. Can I use a potion and attack in one go? (NO!)
  2. Do I have to buy armour for all body parts? (YES!)
  3. If I don't have an anti-freeze potion, what happens? (You have to roll a six on the dice to become unfrozen)
3. Do the shopping activity
Students complete the shopping activity which has been explained to them through the presentation.
4. Introduce your character
Groups take it in turn to introduce their characters name and the weapon (s)he will use. Nothing else. The rest is a secret for next weeks BATTLE activity. 
って言う事で、I'll be back soon with a review of the battle lesson.

Stay tuned!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Creating Rage Comics with EFL Students

In reply to a number of requests, this post outlines our methodology behind getting our students to create and upload rage comics to reddit.

First Lesson

The first lesson is a general introduction to the vocabulary for emotions in English. At the end of the lesson, students are introduced to popular Internet memes known as rage faces and are asked to guess what emotion they are portraying.

Below are the slides we used as part of the lesson.

This is the accompanying worksheet:


Second Lesson

In this lesson we went over the phenomenon of "trolling" and helped the students register on reddit, create their comics with and then upload their completed comics to reddit.

Below are the slides we used as part of the lesson:


Hints, Tips and Considerations

  • Because students were all submitting their comics from the same room (hence the same IP address) I had an issue with submitting comics where reddit would say, "you are doing that too much, try again in 10 minutes." Which meant that students could only submit their comics once every 10 minutes. A massive delay! To remedy this problem, you should input all students usernames on your subreddit as approved submitters. The link is here:
  • Students should be advised that the content on reddit (especially rage comics) often contain inappropriate material or themes for school settings. We therefore recommend carrying out such lessons with mature students. In our particular context, all students were 18+.
  • Adding flair after students names helps the reddit community know who is or is not a student.
  • Because anyone can post anything on reddit, we recommend monitoring the comments that students receive on their comics, looking out for anything inappropriate or insulting. (We found that the community reported such comments in a lot of cases, too.)
  • As a follow up lesson, we recommend having students reply to any comments they received, comparing their upvote scores, commenting on new comics and participating in English with the community you have created (= interacting with other English speakers).


Wednesday, 2 November 2011