Posted 21/4/11
Poem by Todd Alcott; video by Beth Fulton. This activity uses an adapted form of the poem for the basis of a jazz chant (scroll down the page to see a video of the activity in practice). The lesson plan demonstrates that as language teachers, we do not have to use audio texts in original versions.
  • Language level: Elementary – Intermediate (A2 – B1)
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Activity: Jazz chant; Text reconstruction; Reading aloud
  • Topic: Television
  • Language: Daily routines
  • Materials: Video
Television pdf [downloaded 6104 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. Tell your students that you have a mystery poem for them. Tell them that they have two tasks:
    • To repeat the lines of the poem after you
    • To consider the title of the poem*
  2. * Tell students that the title of the poem (i.e. television) consists of a single word which is not contained within the main text.

    Look at me!
    Look at me!
    Are you looking at me?
    Is everyone looking at me?

    No, don’t look over there.
    There’s nothing to look at over there.

    Look at me!

    You want what?
    What do you want?
    You want to eat?

    You want what?
    What do you want?
    You want to go to work?

    You want what?
    What do you want?
    You want to go to the toilet?

    You want what?
    What do you want?
    You want to go to bed?

    Get up

    Go to the kitchen
    Make a sandwich
    Come back
    Sit down
    Look at me

    Get up
    Go to work
    Come home
    Sit down
    Look at me

    Get up
    Go to the toilet
    Come back
    Sit down
    Look at me

    Get up
    Go to bed
    Go to sleep
    Get up
    Come back
    Sit down
    Look at me

    (Adapted from the poem:
    Television is a drug
    by Todd Alcott)

  3. Ask students if they thought of any titles for the poem. Write all answers on the board.
  4. Tell students that the poem is an adapted version of a video poem. Show them the full video.
  5. Note that the video starts by telling us the title. This is unfortunate – the activity works better if students do not see the title instantly. To solve this problem, don’t play the clip from the very beginning but start it at 0.02. Alternatively, download the clip and use video editing software to remove the first two seconds of the clip. See PDF download for more information.
  6. Ask students if they are able to tell you the title of the poem now that they have seen the video.
  7. Tell students that they are going to write the simple version of the poem from memory. Ask them if they would like to hear it a second time before they do so. Repeat the drill if necessary.
  8. Put students into pairs or small groups. Ask them to work together to write the poem as they remember it. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same – let them add their own creative ideas if they like. You may want to insist that they include the parts about going to the kitchen, going to work, going to the toilet and going to bed (these contained some useful language).
  9. Allow students from different groups to get together and compare their poems. During this stage, anyone can make any changes to their poems.


Make copies of the adapted poem (contained in the PDF download). Give them to students and let them compare them with their own versions.

Follow up

Correct all poems and ask students to record their own recitals for homework. Ask them to use an online tool such as – a very simple online voice recorder. The site allows you to send recordings to others via email or put them on a class blog or wiki.


This activity serves to demonstrate one way in which we do not have to use audio texts in original versions. It is very possible to adapt them for language learners. Learners can be given both versions (the adapted and the original) and can compare them in their own time.

Posted 21/4/11

24 Responses to Television

  1. Rimgh says:

    Excellent. They’re going to love it!
    Thank you Jamie.

  2. Paul says:

    Great stuff Jamie. Did you know that you can create YouTube links that start at a specific point in the video? For the poem the link is without the title “Television” is
    To make a link to a specific point in the video move the slider to the exact point you want, pause and right-click the slider.
    PS Could you do anything with this?

  3. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks very much
    I did actually know about trick that but it hadn’t occurred to me to use it here. Excellent that you’ve pointed it out.
    That’s an interesting clip. If you couldn’t see what the guy is writing it would make absolutely no sense at all.
    Happy weekend
    Jamie :-)

  4. Tomas Uhlir says:

    Another great one! Thank you. You’re so inspiring. Would you be able to do something with this one:

  5. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Tomas
    Yes – love the guilty dog video. A lot of possibilities. Did you see this one:

  6. Thank you for sharing your ideas on this great video.
    You can find the script here :
    To me this video is perfect to have students work on memory (of pictures ,of words) and think about the impact on people of pictures and words seen or heard on TV.
    Here is the beginning of a scenario I imagined:
    -split the class into 3 gps: G1 watches the video without sound, G2 listens to the audio part only, G3 sees the video as it is. Then , let students gather information and interact to explain what impact TV can have on people (children or adults).

  7. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Laurence :-)

  8. Andrew Ferrett says:

    Good lesson, it made my students sit up.

  9. Jamie Keddie says:


  10. Pingback: My favourite videos this year —

  11. Michèle says:

    Hi Jamie!
    I had the great opportunity to use your lesson plan with my A2 level students here in France as a group work.
    Your video really helped me and I hope I was able to pass a bit of your energy on. Anyway, as a teacher, I really enjoyed this lesson and it seems that the pupils did so!
    I ended the two hours lesson with 6 illustrated poems and the pupils are looking formard to see them hanging on the classroom walls.
    Thank you again for your inspiring work.

  12. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Michèle
    Glad the video helped – it is the sort of activity that I wouldn’t be able to explain in paper. The potential of showing over telling!
    Glad your students enjoyed it.
    Jamie :-)

  13. Pat says:

    really great activity, my students do love working with these stuff! thanks!

  14. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Pat
    Glad they like it! Jamie :)

  15. Mari Varsányi says:

    Hey Jamie! I recently started teaching at a school here in Amsterdam, so I will finally get the chance to try out your amazing ideas! This one looks especially promising, as TV is one of the favorite topics of many of ‘my kids’. Am really looking forward to trying it! Will let you know how it went. Thanks for all the inspiration! :)

  16. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Mari!
    Good to see you here. Good luck with the activity. Let us know how it goes!
    Jamie :)

  17. Gladys says:

    Hello Jamie: I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Excellent activity to wake up my adult students on Saturday mornings! Thank you for sharing it.

  18. Jamie Keddie says:

    On a Saturday morning – good for waking up the teacher as well!
    Thanks Gladys
    Jamie :)

  19. mustapha says:

    A creative activity. It will certainly stimulate my students

  20. Paula Lauria says:

    Absolutely inspiring!!! I’ll use it with my students from Argentina..

    Warm regards.

  21. Albert says:

    Tried in Russia. It`s awesome)) Thank you))

  22. Nieves Cortes says:

    Thank you for all your ideas, I love your page!!
    I saw the video about the guilty dog. I was thinking of different activities to work on the video, but nothing interesting and original as you do.

  23. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Nieves
    Yes – that seems to be a favourite video with many people. Really glad to hear that you are enjoying the site.
    Thank you for your comment
    Jamie :)