Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven

Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven from Aeon Video on Vimeo.

This one, which I found because I follow Vimeo on Twitter, and keep my eye open for their Vimeo Staff Picks, I found profoundly moving.

I'd say it's too long for use in class (and perhaps too moving as well?) but it's exactly the kind of thing that you could share if you were on social media with your learners.

But as a starting point for either writing or speaking about the memories we have of our grandparents it's so wonderful and as material for classes memories are so much more powerful than anything we could pick up off the trash pile that is Google Images.

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  1. Oh, I love Vimeo! This week I used this other video with one of my teen classes and they actually loved it. It led to some nice class conversations on love, relationships, family, memories… Stage 1: Warm-up, have students think of their favorite object and tell their partners why they are so special to them; Stage 2, watch the first minute and a half without sound, students speculate about the history behind the box (who sent it to whom? why? who are the people in the video? etc). Stage 3 (listening): (1) watch the video and write the name of the objects each person introduces in the box (a stone, a violin bridge, etc.), (2) watch the video again and take notes about the reasons why each object is introduced in the box). It can be followed up by different activities, either a short speaking turn in which each student thinks of the kind of objects they would put in the box, or a writing activity in which each student takes on the role of a family member and writes a short letter to the old couple.

  2. Another set of videos that worked really well, this time with an adult class, was a set of commercials made for Bob's Red Mill. and Really nice discussion and language emerging from this lesson on what it takes to be a good businessperson, language related to character and personality adjectives, etc. It can be developed into a whole set of follow-up activities, such as a role-play where each student takes up a different role related to the company's history which can be found in Wikipedia (Bob, a rich businessman from the city who wants to buy the business and offers hims a bunch of money, and factory workers).

  3. Thanks for those, Vanesa.

    Yes, Vimeo is such a good site, with the Vimeo Staff Picks I mentioned being outstanding.

    I like those Bob's Red Mill ones — especially the real short one! How much can I get out of how little is a vital question we sometimes miss, I think.

  4. Here's another brilliant story on Vimeo. Again I'd say it's a bit too long for class, and I'm not sure quite what I'd do with it…

    But I'd say it's one of those that you could share if you're using social media with your learners — and I think you should be, of some kind — and from which you may get reaction and discussion (do they like it?) and if not, at least they get some fun listening comprehension.

  5. Nice one! I agree that short videos (1 min or even shorter) are the best, but some stories can lead to nice conversations on social media. I really liked this one:

  6. I like that one a lot, Vanesa. Very touching, especially if you have relatives of that sort of age.

    And I agree: I wouldn't make it a hard and fast rule, but anything longer than about 3 minutes are probably best for "conversations" on social media, rather than for use in class. With limited class time, I believe that should be used for as much interaction and speaking as possible, rather than passive listening, which could be done just as well outside class.

    With the one you suggest there, I reckon there's a lot of conversation in whether or not the carer is doing a good job.

    Things like that, shared, sometimes don't generate much, it's a bit hit and miss, but even when they don't we're providing that extra listening.

    I've got an Edmodo group which I share with a colleague, so the people in it have two "teachers" and that kind of thing is one of the main things we do with the group: share stuff we think they'll like — and have the learners in the group do exactly that, too.

  7. Yes! The regular once a week podcast they do I still think is the best thing we do but the kinda of random sharing of videos and whatever is also great tho as you say sometimes massively successful but sometimes not (if we judge that by the number of comments generated.
    With longer videos, getting them to watch at home and then discussing in the next class also works.
    Love the helicopter one!!!

  8. Thanks Kim. Yes, their once a week podcast is great (and kind of the whole point of the group, I suppose) but the great thing about the sort of extra, viral video sort of thing you can share with learners is that, apart from the listening practice and the conversation, and the extra opportunities for language practice and learning that creates, is that it's "social" and adds so much variety. There's endless variety out there!

    It's unpredictable: the learners can't look ahead and see what's in the coursebook unit next week. The element of surprise is great.

  9. Agreed. What worked well for me was asking them to remember their English classmates when they shared things with friends on FB etc: it tends to be a bit always the same people that share with us too but it most def works!

  10. Nice idea, Kim!

    I wouldn't worry especially if not everyone in a class shared stuff with a group. It would worry me if very few posted comments!

    You probably in fact don't want TOO much stuff to get posted, but from the little that does, get a lot of comments from as many people as possible.

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