The Bucket List of Junior High School Students

This time not about CLIL itself but another great example of students' creativity. When I told my colleagues that I planned to follow this lesson, they laughed. Well, some might say that 15-year-old students won't be able to talk about death or dreams. I was also a little bit afraid of the results, but they managed to fullfill all the tasks.
The lesson was based on the film "The Bucket List" (2007). This is a story of two elderly men who get to know they're terminally ill. After considering all possible solutions they decide to make a list of wishes and dreams and simply spend the rest of their time following it. It's called a bucket list (for there is a saying "to kick a bucket" that means "to die"). On their list there are: skydiving, climbing Mount Everest, speed driving, kissing the most beautiful woman in the world and many others.
I started the lesson with reminding the expressions:
to kick the bucket, a bucket list, things to do before you die etc.

I asked the students to elicit some possible things people may have on their lists. Then we made use of the task produced by Lessonstream.org (points 3-5).

The next step was to watch a piece of the film & familiarize them with the plot.

 Naturally, it was the moment for the students to start thinking about their personal lives and choices. I asked them to imagine that there were no parents above them (as in an adult life nobody is going to tell them what to do) and they had an unlimited access to money as it was shown in the film. I estimated that 10 minutes would be enough for them to write down the ideas. To my amazement they were simply unstoppable - their lists were full of ideas, long and interesting. Of course, many of the points were so funny I just couldn't stop laughing.
Below I placed some of the examples:
  • to do bungee-jumping
  • to become a Pope and say that God doesn't exist
  • to be completely prepared for an English test
  • to win a talent show (having no talents at all)
  • to go to Africa and participate in a safari
  • to make a tattoo
  • to have a bath in chocolate
  • to make a party for 10000 people
  • to overspeed on the highway
  • be famous all over the world
  • jump with parachute
  • to be licked by a llama
  • to have my own series of perfume
  • have a room where there will be wardrobes instead of walls and these wardrobes will be full of shoes!
  • go to the Arctic
  • go to the USA
  • run around the city in a chicken fancy dress
  • to go to the outer space
  • to have a son with a beautiful woman
  • to visit the most exclusive hotel in the world
  • to beat a world record and become the oldest person ever!
I have to say that the range of "dreams" was vast - from ridiculous and weird to really typical ones.

The last activity that I also found at lessonstream.org was The Lying Game.
We took some of the ideas that appeared during the lesson and started an interview that aimed at proving that the interviewee was lying. Well, I cannot say that the students were thrilled but they were very communicative and willing to participate. Thanks to this activity we practised "Have you ever..." structure as well as the pattern of asking further questions in Past Simple tense.

Total time: 45 minutes
 Level: B1/B2
No of students: 5-6
Age Group: Teenagers


Pablo Picasso in the 6th Grade

This lesson was a first one in the 6th Grade. The topic was chosen by a coincidence. I just came across www.picassohead.com and simply knew I HAD TO make use of it.


To get to know some details of Picasso's life; understand notions like "cubism", "abstract", "angle", recognise the most important pictures of this author; prepare a Picasso-like painting online; give a short presentation;

Task 1

Ask students some LOTS and HOTS questions:
Who is a painter? What painters do you know? Who is your favourite one? Why do you like their masterpieces? Have you ever heard about Pablo Picasso? What do you know about him? What did he paint?

Asking these questions makes your students more attracted by the topic.

Explain the aims of the lesson.

Task 2

Show them a film without stopping, asking them about what is being painted (their answers were: bacteria, roses, a fish, a rooster/chicken). This film shows a real mastery of Picasso.

Task 3

Children are given copies of Picasso's biography. I simplified the text so that they had no bigger problems with understanding. Then they try to answer some of the questions concerning the contents of the text - discussion.
Ask them about more complicated vocabulary. Then they note down new words - both content and compatible ones.

Task 4

Divide students into groups of 3-4. Each group is given a set of 7 photos and their titles. Their task is to match them into pairs. This is a funny activity taking into consideration cubism ;) Sometimes they have problems to figure out the right position for the painting :)

Task 5

No teacher assessment again. Instead play this film:
Here they can find all of the paintings from the task. If there are any mistakes (and there always are) they correct them alone. Afterwards, you can discuss together the content of the pictures trying to recognise some characteristic elements.

Task 6 - homework

Each student has my email address and we also try to work online via Edmodo. This time their homework is to create a Picasso-like painting by means of www.picassohead.com and then send it to me. At the next meeting they will be asked to tell the rest of the group something about their project. Functional language used here - phrases to describe location plus body parts (mainly head).
Examples of students' works

Examples of students' works

My pocket money – about saving and spending - Maths in CLIL

Let me present the lesson that is my first using this approach. The guinea pigs in this research were the 5th grade students. The photos were taken during their work. All the groups managed to fullfill all the tasks although in different time - some finished much before the end of the lesson, the others left the classroom with some homework.


learning about various graphs and charts; filling in a questionnaire about ways of spending pocket money; drawing and labelling a bar graph and a pie chart;

Task 1:

Explain the aims of the lesson. Ask your students some LOTS and HOTS questions:

What is pocket money?  Do you get it from your parents? If yes – how often? Who gives you the money? What do you usually do with this money? Do you save it all? What are you planning to buy soon?

Explain that now you are going to practise some graphs and charts.

Task 2

Divide students into groups of 2-4 people. Each group gets a set of 4 pictures and 4 tiles with names of various graphs. their task is to match the picture and the name basing on their previous knowledge.

Task 3

Hand out a worksheet about the bar graphs. Thanks to this activity students will check if they understand how to read one.

Task 4

This activity includes organizing data into the tally chart and trasferring it to the bar graph. The students really appreciated it. 

Task 5

Depending on the number of students either divide them into groups of 6-8 or do the task with the whole group. You can do it on the blackboard or hand out the ready-made questionnaire.
The task is to ask the students to give/choose three ways that they spend their pocket money. From my experience it is better to ask them to construct the questionnaire together on the blackboard and then fill it in making a tally chart.

Task 6

 You ask the students to make groups of 2-4 people and draw a bar graph based on the data you have collected about ways of spending their pocket money.

Task 7

To introduce group evaluation of the work, you hand out the checklist. It's written in L1 to make it understandable and clear. The students have to stay objective answering and assessing their input.

Task 8 - homework

I have also prepared an extra activity for fast learners. It's about a life cycle of a monarch butterfly. This worksheet asks them to transfer data into a pie chart.


Functional language - I decided to limit their first meeting with CLIL to the basics. I don't want to overwhelm them with amount of new vocabulary.
Discussions and presentations - the problem of Polish students in general is the reluctance towards speaking in English in public. I think I will overcome it gradually with time.