Many thanks to Marisa Constantinides for suggesting this blog challenge – and for reminding both teachers and students all that disabilities do belong in the classroom and we should always keep in mind people who have some kind of impairment.
The lesson I have prepared especially for this blog challenge is a poem, one of my favourite kinds of literature to teach with. I like using poems for various topics and I believe that this poem by A.C.Leming called Dreams, which is about physical impairment, would be suitable to include in such a lesson.
In my opinion, poetry is an excellent medium of language which conveys messages, thoughts and feelings in a special way and gives students great food for thought. Plus, it can give the students a lot of inspiration and a new way to examine a topic!
I would use the specific poem with upper-intermediate or advanced students.
- A pre-reading activity could be to make a word cloud out of all the words of the poem and have the students write their own poem, using all the words.
- They can then look at their own work and the poem itself, compare and discuss why they wrote their own the way they did and why the poet chose to write hers in another.
Some questions as they are reading/looking at the poem could be:
● Look at the poem. What does the shape remind you of? What does it look like? (A staircase. Why?)
● Why do you think the title is Dreams? (Any idea can be accepted, as it is poetry)
one by one, feeling
muscles clench and relax
at the direction of the nerves driven
by my will to ascend up and up, away
from the darkness of waking, immobile, in
my hospital bed.
After you have read the poem:
● What feelings has the shape and the poem itself generated?
● Why is she separating my and dreams, in your opinion?
● Now that you have read the poem, what is she dreaming of?
● What kind of words is she using to show direction (up, up, away, ascend – why does she use words that all show upward motion?)
● Why is the last line at the far right end of the rest of the poem?
● Ask them if they can draw any images that come from their reflection on the poem. The images can depict their feelings or any images evoked after reading the poem.
After analysing the poem, the conversation can take a more general direction:
● How are people with impairments treated in your country? (Are there facilities for them, like special rehabilitation centres, special entrances, ramps and special restrooms in buildings)?
● This question can be a bit sensitive, so you can ask them generally if they know of someone with an impairment. They do not have to tell you who it is, but they can explain to the class what kind of impairment the person has, how s/he handles it in everyday life and anything else they can think of.
● Throughout the lesson you can focus on vocabulary pertinent to the subject, such as visually -, physically- or mentally impaired and so on.
● As an after-class assignment, they can write a letter to the Minister of Education of their country on a topic such as: What solutions can be found for disabled people to be integrated into society?
December 3rd is International Disability Day. The lessons on disabilities can be used then, but I suggest choosing any day to remind everyone of people with disabilities.
Marisa, thank you so much!
(Many thanks to Marisa for recommended the drawing activities, the word cloud and the last writing assignment – I had come up with something different, but I liked Marisa’s idea much better!)
- Marisa Constantinides is CELTA & DELTA tutor at CELT Athens. http://www.celt.edu.gr/