Monday, April 10, 2006

The Bruce Willis School of Language Arts


Lesson plan courtesy of Bruce Willis.

This is something I thought up years ago after watching Die Hard 3. In the movie the city of New York (why is it always NY. What's wrong with say, St Louis ?) is threatened by a psychotic blackmailer who threatens to set off a bomb in one of the schools.

Taking this as my starting point I created a blackmail note which says something to the effect that unless the ciy pays $10,000,000 a bomb will go off. Explain to the students (in bigger classes you'll need to divide them into groups of three or four) that you are they mayor and they are your advisors. Their job is to decide whether the city pays the money or no.

Depending on their answers I give them one of two possible answers. If the agree to pay the second note demands $20,000,000. If they refuse, the note makes it clear that the a bomb has indeed exploded killing many people and that they have only two hours to pay, otherwise a school will be next.

A little macabre perhaps but it does get them talking and discussing in new ways.

BTW I"ll post the actual notes as soon as I get them scanned.


For all you Echelon types out there, don't worry, it's just a lesson outline and none of my students have tried to put this plan into action

2 comments:

gordsellar said...

Once, in a Free-Talking class that had kept me as their teacher for way too long, and which desperately needed a new teacher, I came up with a few assignments like this, except the students also got to play the bad guys.

In one exercise, they planned a bank heist. (The plans were surprisingly good, by the way.) In another, they were hunting terrorists and trying to figure out where (in the smallish countryside city we were in, Iksan) terrorists would strike, if they decided Iksan was toast.

One of the most interesting ongoing activities I did with a small class was have them each choose a planet in the solar system. They then became the government representative for the aliens from that world. Each week, they plotted a little more of their invasion of the Earth -- it would be a half hour a week or so, sometimes longer.

When the book discussed travel destinations and describing places, they partitioned the Earth and explained their selections -- the Mercurians preferred Africa and Hawaii, the Plutonians of course wanted the polar regions, and so on. When we were working on describing the future, I had them each declare their method of invasion, again, using weapons and tactics appropriate to their homeworld. I stopped it when it got tiresome, but for about a month or so it did do something quite different for them. And I've been thinking about how to inegrate RPG-type experiences in EFL ever since.

teacher dude said...

Thanks for the ideas Gordsellar, I also did the bank heist lesson once and it was a lot of fun. I liked the idea about the invasion of Earth. It sounds like a guy thing, though. Did your female students enjoy it as well ?

I always thought that Diplomacy would make for a great long-term language exercise, however, I've never been able to find a way of including it in my lessons.