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Some peace in the classroom

Writer(s): 
Fiona Eastley, Doshisha University

Quick Guide

  • Key Words: Storytelling, peace
  • Learner English Level: High intermediate to advanced
  • Learner Maturity Level: University level and above
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes
  • Activity Time: One lesson period
  • Materials: A pack of word cards, small cards with a hole at one end (those used by high school students for studying English). There should be enough cards for 2 cards per student along with a plastic ring to keep cards together.

We are bombarded daily with news of war and terror, but how often do we hear about happy and peaceful stories? This lesson plan gives students a chance to reflect on a time they felt happy and peaceful while practicing their storytelling and listening skills. The lesson plan also asks students to think about how to make their life more peaceful and gives them a chance to put their thoughts into action.

Preparation

Very little preparation is needed. The teacher only needs to prepare the materials and also to prepare their explanation of the task (see Procedure, Step 1).

Procedure

Step 1: The teacher explains that today the class will talk about their peaceful memories. The class is asked to close their eyes, relax, and use their imagination as the teacher speaks. The teacher tells them to remember a time they felt peace: maybe when they were a child playing, or on a holiday sometime. The students are then asked to remember what the weather was like that day, what they could see around them, what they were doing and how they felt. It is important for the teacher to set the scene using a soft and calm voice and to help the students travel through their memory.

Step 2: The students are asked to open their eyes and to quietly write down some important points to help them tell their memory-story later. The students are told not to write sentences, only main points or a story plan.

Step 3: The students are then seated with a partner and informed that they will tell their peaceful story. It is explained that this is a story retelling exercise and that the partner should only listen and show interest but not interrupt the storyteller or ask questions. When the storyteller is finished, the listener can ask some questions. The listener and storyteller then change roles. The students then change partners and repeat their story. This is done several times.

Step 4: After the students have finished telling their stories, the teacher tells them that for the next week they are going to try and make their life more peaceful. The teacher hands each student two cards and a plastic ring. The students are asked to write down one thing they could do during the week to make their life more peaceful. The student writes the sentence on both of the cards. Some examples are I will smile to a stranger, I will help my parents without being asked first, I will listen to my friends more, I will not worry.

Step 5: The teacher collects one of each pair of cards and then redistributes these cards to the students. Therefore each student has two cards with a different message, one written by themselves and one written by a fellow student. The teacher explains to the students that they have to try and do these peaceful activities at least once a day. The students are encouraged to attach the ringed cards to something they use everyday, for example, their pencil case or wallet, so that they are reminded to do the activities.

Step 6: Lastly, each day as the students carry out their peaceful activities they are asked to report to the teacher what they did and how they felt about it via a short e-mail. The teacher then responds to a selection of the e-mails (depending on the size of the class).

Conclusion

This lesson has been used as part of a unit on peace studies and it is most successful if the students have been studying about peace or have carried out discussions about peace and the world. After the activity has been concluded the students can then be guided to various websites about peace and especially what particular individuals are doing about promoting peace where they live. This lesson would fit well within both a content-based course and a communicative-based course.

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