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Teaching Tips 146

Left Out
Reusable Speaking
One small step

Left hand

Left Out

What have Pat Bonny, Paul Klee, Marilyn Monroe, Oprah Winfrey, Jack the Ripper, Paul McCartney, Nicole Kidman, Bill Clinton got in common?

Yes, they were/are all lefthanded. Not particularly startling you might think but this week we are going to use lefthandedness in some lesson ideas to coincide with Lefthanded Day, which is celebrated on August 13th. Did you know that 10% of the general population is lefthanded, although this is reduced to 0% in Japan due to the cultural stigma that has been associated with lefthandedness.

Very recently, scientists claim to have found the lefthanded gene:
Might well make an interesting article to use in class in addtion to or in place of the article that follows.

On 13th August it's Lefthanded Day so here are some ideas & materials to use in class:

Here is a procedure for part of a lesson you might like to use:

1. Put the famous people above on the board & get the students in pairs to come up with possible links.

2. Introduce the idea of Lefthanded Day. (Obviously find out if there are any lefthanded students in the class beforehand & explain there is lesson coming up on it.)
As a bit of fun, tell the students that they should write with the other hand for the remainder of the lesson.

3. Ask if the students do anything better with their left rather than with their right hands - if they are righthanded, of course. Give out the quiz to do individually & then discuss the answers.

From The Left-Handers Club:


We all, of course, know in which hand we hold a pen, but how far does this bias extend throughout your body? Are you left-eared? Left eyed? Here is a simple test you can apply to yourself.

1. Imagine the centre of your back is itching. Which hand do you scratch it with?
2. Interlock your fingers. Which thumb is uppermost?
3. Imagine you are applauding. Start clapping your hands. Which hand is uppermost?
4. Wink at an imaginary friend straight in front of you. Which eye does the winking?
5. Put your hands behind your back, one holding the other. Which hand is doing the holding?
6. Someone in front of you is shouting but you cannot hear the words. Cup your ear to hear better. Which ear do you cup?
7. Count to three on your fingers, using the forefinger of the other hand. Which forefinger do you use?
8. Tilt your head over on to one shoulder. Which shoulder does it touch?
9. Fixate a small distant object with your eyes and point directly at it with your forefinger. Now close one eye. Now change eyes. Which eye was open when the fingertip remained in line with the small object? (When the other eye, the non-dominant one, is open and the dominant eye is closed, the finger will appear to move to one side of the object.)
10. Fold your arms. Which forearm is uppermost?

If you have always considered yourself to be right or left-handed you will probably now have discovered that your body is less than total in its devotion to its favoured side. If you are right-handed the chances are that you were not able to be 'right' 10 times.

4. Tell the students some interesting facts about lefthanders:

From The Left-Handers Club:

Most left-handers draw figures facing to the right
There is a high tendency in twins for one to be left-handed
Stuttering and dyslexia occur more often in left-handers (particularly if they are forced to change their writing hand as a child, like King of England George VI).
Left-handers adjust more readily to seeing underwater.
Left-handers excel particularly in tennis, baseball, swimming and fencing
Left-handers usually reach puberty 4 to 5 months after right-handers
4 of the 5 original designers of the Macintosh computer were left-handed
1 in 4 Apollo astronauts were left-handed - 250% more than the normal level.
Left-handers are generally more intelligent, better looking, imaginative and multi-talented than right handers ( based on discussions among members of the Left-Handers Club! :)

5. Students in pairs brainstorm difficulties that lefthanded people might come up against in daily life eg. Desks, machines etc.. Get them to collate a list. Feedback with one list on the board - get a student up to the board to do this, reminding her/him to use the other hand to write with!

6. Reading - below is a rather old article, but still useful.
a) Put the title on the board & get the students to predict whylefthanders still feel left out - collate the ideas on the board.
b) Students skim the article to see if any of their ideas from the prediction or the problems mentioned earlier are mentioned. Alternatively, cut up the article into paragraphs & students sequence it as logically as they can, given the genre, & then discuss why they made their decissions, looking at the cohesive features of the text.
c) A more detailed comprehension task, for lower levels?

7. Language focus - pick up on some relevant language to your group in the text, a noticing task & then clarification & practiise. Don't forget the written record.

8. Response to the text - discussion - have they heard of lefthanders being discriminated against eg. in Spain I have heard in the past of school students having their left hand tied behind their backs so they had to use the right. This could lead on to a discussion of other discriminations in society & why they might exist.

Why left-handers still feel left out

Guardian, Thursday June 6, 2002

Over the centuries they have been beaten on the knuckles, locked up, ridiculed and prevented from reproducing in case they spawned freaks.

Now left-handers are facing another affront. A psychology professor told the Guardian Hay festival yesterday that society will never stop being biologically and culturally dominated by right-handers at the psychological expense of those who hold their pencil in their left hand.

Chris McManus, a professor of psychology and medical education at University College London, trawled thousands of years of the history of cells and culture - from "left-handed" amino acids, to stone age tool-making practices and Giotto frescos - and found that "right equals good and left equals bad" in common perception.

In his book Right Hand, Left Hand, he noted how expres sions for the word "left" had become terms of abuse in every culture - something that New Labour might already be aware of.

"Our society is organised according to right-handers. Left-handers are the last of the great neglected minorities," said Prof McManus, who is a right-hander with a left-handed mother and daughter.

In Britain around 13% of men and around 11% of women are left-handed, compared with 3% before 1910. Left-handedness coincides with high incidences of genius and creativity, and also autism and dyslexia.

"The one thing that will change the suffering of left-handers is to get engineers to see that for 10% of users, their designs are still back to front. Scissors, microwave doors, power saws and water gauges on the side of kettles are a constant reminder. Psychologically, left-handers still claim to have problems. The social consequences are immense."

Here are some links on lefthandedness to follow up for more material & classroom ideas:
The Left-Handers Club
Wikipedia page on left-handedness, including a list of famous left-handed people.
The Lefthanded Universe.
For righthanded people learning to write with their left hands.
Lefthanded Liberation Society

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A mark of a good speaking activity is the ability to use it again & again with the same group. The activity 'Train Compartment' in the Tip 'Strangers on a train' is reusable.

Another speaking activity is 'Hard Bargaining' from 'Advanced Communication Games' by Jill Hadfield (Nelson). The book is a collection of photocopiable speaking activities designed for largish groups.

'Hard Bargaining' asks the students to barter. Each has a card & they have to negotiate with the other students to get what they need. An example card might be 'You have but don't need 10 sheep' & then 'You need 4 pigs'& each student has different things in each section. Here the focus is on animals but a simple change to the cards can produce a lexical set that has been introduced that week for example. The students could be bartering with anything & reviewing whatever vocabulary you wish.

Another activity which can be reused is 'Moaning Minnies'. I think it is from the same book although it could be from the Intermediate Communication Games. Here the students have either positive or negative cards & they have to mingle to find the person who has the opposite feeling for the three things that they have. For example,

You are feeling depressed about three things:
Your mother-in-law is coming to stay.
You are moving house.
Your husband/wife has a new job.

You are feeling happy at the moment because:
Your mother-in-law is coming to stay.
You are moving house.
Your husband/wife has a new job.

When they have found each other they have to persuade each other to change their moods about their three points. Lots of interesting discussion ensues.

To reuse this activity, all you need do is change the points & think of two or three points for half the number of students in the group. You are happy/depressed because the G8 are meeting, it's raining, Italy have won the World Cup, you've got a holiday next week etc... Again you can easily bring in recently introduced language to practise.

These are just two examples of activities that with a small change can be used again & again. So the next time you find yourself wasting a lot of time looking for a speaking activity think about what you have already used & you will more than likely have what you need. And when a speaking activity has gone really well, hang on to it for future modification.

To see the Elementary & Intermediate Communication Games at Amazon:
'Intermediate Communication Games' by Jill Hadfield (Nelson).
'Elementary Communication Games' by Jill Hadfield (Nelson).

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One small step

What are the five greatest achievements of mankind? I would imagine that within these five, the first man on the moon on 20th July 1969 would be included. There is a lot of information around on the net about the 40th anniversary & if any event is worthy of classroom attention, then this surely must be included. Here are a few links to materials & a brief lesson outline:
Remembering Apollo 11 - 40 photos
Wikipedia Apollo 11 info.
Wikipedia - Apollo 11 in popular culture.
The World-Wide Web's most extensive collection of high-quality Apollo image
We Choose The Moon - Interactive site from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

Nasa anniversary site

USA Today - where were you pdf

Buzz Aldrin Talks to LIFE
'What Neil Armstrong Should Have Said - On the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo landing, look back at the first words from twenty legends — from Muhammad Ali to Leonard Nemoy — if they'd landed on the moon instead.'

14 minute recent interview with Neil Armstrong - excellent viewing for all.
Part 1
Part 2

On the Times Online site there is the page of links to original articles at the time:
The first articles can be printed off for use in the classroom. At the link below there are three articles to use:

Here is an article, divided into three sections about each of the astronauts, that could be used as a jigsaw reading activity:

A brief outline of a lesson:
1. Students storm ideas for the five top achievements of mankind
2. Intro to the moon walk, using some of the photos gleaned from the links above, & related vocabulary - a mind map on the board.
3. Reading the first short article from The Times Online mentioned above. Article begins 'Neil Armstrong became the first man to take a walk...'
4. The reading about the astronauts as a jigsaw task - when they come together - who was better prepared for the mission?
5. Video - see YouTube links above - interview with Armstrong.
6. Discussion - reactions to all you've covered, should space exploration continue v sorting out Earth's problems first, etc....

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