Happy New Year everybody! I hope you all had a lovely winter break and enjoyed your time off work. When everyone else is planning their resolutions and different ways of achieving them, why don’t we look back at 2021 and analyse it month by month. I present you with a lesson plan for adults, levels A2/B1, which not only helps us think about the last year but should also put things into perspective.
While I was thinking of different ways of approaching this topic, when I stumbled upon Lesson idea: Using graphs to tell a story, a blog post by Emily Bryson ELT. I decided to plot the level of happiness vs the months of the year. And let me tell you, this was probably one of the most challenging years of my life.
This lesson consists of a plan and a worksheet that can be downloaded for free at the end of the post. Obviously, our years are so distinct that you need to make a personalized version of it. That’s why I included the editable worksheet that allows you to put your graph and events accordingly.
Start the class by drawing the graph without explaining the meaning of axes. If you teach online, you can either prepare your graphs beforehand (just like I did!), or quickly draw them on a digital whiteboard, such as Web Whiteboard. Keep in mind that drawing freehand on a digital whiteboard isn’t going to be as smooth as you would like!
Ask students to guess what the graph represents and predict the meaning of each axis. Since it is almost impossible to guess this correctly, give your student a hint and point out that the X-axis is divided into 12 parts.
The twelve points should give your students some idea that they indicate the months of the year. Now all they need to do is predict the meaning of the Y-axis. Let students brainstorm for a while and collect their ideas. Elicit that the Y-axis represents the happiness level / how good or bad the month was.
Show students 12 events that happened to you last year. Students match the events with the months. Tell them a short story about your year and check the answers. As I mentioned before, my year was not all that perfect. Here is a list of my events:
- I went to visit my family for the first time in 1.5 years.
- I recovered and came back to work.
- I finished my one year contract and started my blog!
- I had a serious accident and couldn’t walk for three weeks.
- I decided to start working on my own.
- I visited my family again and took a break from work and problems.
- I was informed that I couldn’t return to the academy I’d worked a year before.
- I rested, got a haircut and felt motivated to come back to work.
- I started planning my website.
- I earned money from my website and worksheets!
- It was a lot harder to work on my own and find students than I’d anticipated.
- Spring increased my productivity and creativity. I felt motivated to work and think.
I decided to focus my year in review on professional development and mental health. These two topics are quite hard to deal with, so I wouldn’t have this class with younger students. You can easily change your perspective depending on the level and age of your students! The sky is the limit!
After sharing your story, you may want to refresh the memory and go over the use and forms of Past Simple and Past Perfect.
It’s time for your students to work on their own. Students think about their 2021 and plot their graphs. Ask them to write 12 events associated with each month in random order. Students exchange their work and put the events in chronological order. Then everyone shares their 2021 with the rest of the group. It’s that easy!
Thank you, Emily, for the inspiration. It was so much fun playing around with the graphs. Stay tuned for my next blog post in which we will deal with the future and the upcoming year 2022!