Alex Overwijk is a Canadian maths teacher from Kingston, Ontario. At the high school where he works, Alex is well known for a special skill that he possesses. In 2006, with his permission, a student decided to film Alex demonstrating his skill for the school website. The video clip that he made found its way onto YouTube and quickly went viral.
- Language level: Elementary; Pre-intermediate (A2)
- Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults; CLIL
- Time: 20 minutes
- Activity: Writing sentences
- Topic: Maths; Geometry; Art
- Language: ‘Going to’; ‘Was going to’
- Materials: Video
Lesson plan outline
- Play the first few seconds of the clip with the sound down. Pause the clip and ask students the following questions: Where do you think this man is from?; What do you think he does for a living?; What do you think he teaches?
- Tell students about Alex the maths teacher (see box at the top of the page)
- Ask students if they can guess what Alex’s special talent is. Invite a few people to share ideas.
- Continue the clip with the sound turned down and pause it at 0:55. Use the clip to elicit and teach the following phrases by asking students what Alex is doing at the appropriate moments: Cleaning the blackboard; Drying the board; Warming up
- Give out everyone a scrap piece of paper. On the board, write: I think that Alex is going to … Ask everyone to copy these words onto their scrap pieces of paper.
- Tell students that you want them to guess what Alex is going to do and complete the sentences on their scrap pieces of paper. Tell students to be as imaginative as possible and that everyone must write something down if they want to see the end of the clip.
- Collect all scrap pieces of paper with completed sentences from your students.
- One by one, go over your students’ ideas. Read them out, identify who wrote them, correct errors when necessary and drill where possible.
- Give students one more opportunity to change their predictions before playing the clip to the end and watching Alex draw a perfect circle.
- Have a competition to find out who can draw the best freehand circle on the blackboard.
- Use your students’ ideas to prepare a number of sentences that contain the structure ‘was going to’. The next day, dictate these to your students to practice this structure and recap any key language that was met. For example:
* Glòria that that he was going to do a sommersault in the air.
* Josep thought that he was going to calculate a formula in his head.
* Felipe thought that he was going to dry the board by blowing it.
* Sara thought that he was going to climb up the wall like Spider-man.
- Show students Rembrandt’s Self Portrait with Two Circles. For homework, ask them to go online and find out the various theories about the existence of the circles in the background. It has been suggested that they symbolise perfection of artistic skill. In this theory, the circles were included with reference to the story of Giotto, the Italian master who, when summoned by the Pope to demonstrate his artistry, responded by drawing a perfect circle in red paint.