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Lesson plan to accompany the April 2001 Newsletter

Word version

To see the text used in the plan

Preliminary information

Level: Upper intermediate

Time: 90 minutes or more!

To give extensive & intensive reading practice
To give oral fluency practice
To review & expand vocab connected to the 'Internet'
To review some tenses
To give freer writing practice

That the stds will find the topic interesting
That, in general, the vocab will not be too difficult
That the grammar will pose no problems to comprehension

Anticipated problems:
Some vocab items might not be known - depending on the group..

Materials & aids:
Article from Newsweek - see below
Comprehension task - see below
Profile cards for the writing task in stage 5 - see below


Stage 1: Lead in to raise interest in the topic of diaries

tch > stds, 10 mins

1. Introduce 'diaries' & ask if any of the stds write one, would like to write one, have ever read any... Discuss the differences between a public & a private diary. Introduce the phrase from the title of the article 'to bare your soul' & check meaning.
2. Put the title of the article on the board 'Bloggers Bare Their Souls' & say it's the headline & ask for suggestions on the content of the article. You could list these ideas on the board.

Stage 2: Reading & response - extensive & intensive

tch > stds, std > std, 20 mins

1. Set the extensive task
a) to see which, if any, of their predictions were right - read
b) stds compare in pairs
c) general class feedback
d) more detailed read - True/False sentences - (see below for suggestions) - set task
e) read individually > stds compare in pairs > class feedback
f) stds response to the text - ask stds if they would like to write a blog, what they think ....

Stage 3: Language focus - vocab & tense review

tch > stds, std > std, 20 mins

1. Vocab - stds underline all the words they can find connected to the internet - individually & then compare in pairs. They then brainstorm some more, followed by class feedback. You could prepare a gap fill task to consolidate the vocab & then lead in to a discussion about the internet - how much they use it, for what, at what times, which is the best server.

Titles: bloggers, internet users
para 1: weblogs, online journals
para 2: online, online diaries, personal sites, web content, html, network server, web tools, free hosting sites
para 3: techies, web designer, the About page, weblog community,
para 4: sites, discussions, hosting the sites, attract users, Silicon Valley entrepreneur

2. Tenses - there are clear examples of the present simple, present perfect simple & continuous. Get the stds to underline examples & then discuss why they are being used in this particular context. Possibly follow-up with a gap fill to consolidate the concepts looked at.

Stage 4: Follow up - Internet search for diary material
You could actually go to Megan O'Hara's diary page & find the mentions of the Newsweek article the stds have just read. Predict how they think she might feel about the article & then read to verify. Then you could focus on the style or any interesting language.
Alternatively, look in the links of the current newsletter for a diary that may be of interest to your group & use extracts from that. Choose a few different diaries to compare & contrast....

Stage 5: Diary writing
1. Prepare writer profiles - see below - & hand one out to each std. Refer to the style of any diaries you have looked at & get them to write an excerpt for that person.
2. Go round & help out with any language the stds might need - time for some individualised attention.
3. Stds swap their diary entries & they are corrected by a fellow stds, who also guesses the original 'profile'.
4. You could then post the entries on the walls for all to wander round & read & guess what the profile of the writer was.
5. If you really wanted to continue, you could then get the original writers to meet, in their writer profile roles, & they could give each other advice & comments.

If your students are particularly enthusiastic, how about getting them to start their own weblog - blog - using the links in the article they can easily get together a web page each - in English, of course!


Picture of Megan O'Hara

Internet users chronicle their inner lives in public

By Deborah Branscum                                                                  (Newsweek 12.3.01)




If you want reality, forget "Survivor? Check out Weblogs: public online journals that can be racy, inventing and alarmingly blunt. The update - often daily - let fans follow every twist and turn in an author's life. In Tennessee, Meghan O'Hara has been working up the courage to ask Alex out for a date-a mere eight years after she first got a crush on him in high school. Writing from the Netherlands, American Rachel James shared an erotic Valentine's Day surprise engineered by her Dutch boyfriend. And it wasn't a teddy.

Online diaries aren't new. Ryan Kawailani Ozawa, who created, traces the earliest Web journal to January 1995. Later Weblogs, or blogs, were born. These are personal sites, such as Tomalak's Realm (, that organize links to other Web content on a particular topic of interest. Early bloggers needed to know HTML and have access to a network server. That began to change in 1999 with easy Web tools and free hosting sites, such as, and Some 100,000 people have tried, the most popular site. "Anyone who can fill out a form can have an online journal," says O'Hara.

These snapshots of life - and, perhaps, fantasy - can be strangely addictive. Unsurprisingly, some of the longest running journals belong to techies. O'Hara, for example, is a Web designer. She describes her breasts, piercing, smoking habit and height in her online diary, Squirrel Bait (www, and that's just on the About page. O'Hara has been chronicling her life online since 1995, when she was a first-year college student. She claims to be shy in real life - a fact that comes as a surprise to anyone who reads Squirrel Bait, which has given her a somewhat limited measure of fame within the Weblog community. But don't get the wrong idea - Weblogs are "not all Jerry Springer," says O'Hara. "It's not all people writing, 'My boyfriend dumped me, he's a bastard?' Still, regular readers want to know: will she ask Alex out or not?

An aspiring Samuel Pepys can turn to many sites on the Web for launching a personal journal, including,, and Joint journals, or discussions, can be conducted at sites such as So far there's not much commercial interest in Weblogs; companies hosting these sites attract users but not cash. But according to one practitioner, Weblogs aren't about making money; they're about revolutionizing communication. Dave Winer, a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur and founder of tiny Userland Software, has been maintaining his Weblog since 1997. For him, Weblogs are a crusade. "I'm interested in creating a new form of journalism," he says. "I don't trust the media sources, the TV networks and magazines."

Will Weblogs change journalism? They'll do more than that, if you believe Winer. "We need to gain consciousness as a society he says, "and one of the best ways to do that is to start talking and also to listen. There are 6 billion people on the planet, and if everyone on the planet had a Weblog, we'd be better off." Six billion people sharing their secrets and fears? Now, there's an idea for a reality show.














Comprehension task - true/false sentences

1. Meghan O'Hara is famous for her web design work.

2. Rachel James didn't give her boyfriend a teddy bear as a Valentine's day present.

3. Weblogs are a fairly new phenomena on the internet.

4. It's easy to set up a blog on the internet.

5. In order to write a weblog you've got to have something interesting to say.

6. People are making money out of weblogs.

7. Weblogs will change journalism.

8. There are six billion people writing weblogs.



Example writer profiles for stage 5
You are a 16 year old teenage girl. You are fed up at the moment as your boyfriend has left you & you've got a lot of exams. Your parents aren't letting you go to any parties at the moment because of the exams.
You are in your mid-twenties & working twelve hours a day in a computer company designing web pages. You're getting a bit fed up - you sometimes don't even have time to write your online diary! Today has been one of those days.
You are a voluntary worker in your town. At the moment you are helping in a shelter for homeless people. You are very enthusiastic about your work.

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