Classroom Corner: Mixed Headlines

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by Edward Pye

[This article was first printed in the Winter 2017 issue of TEAL News.]

Tag Words:     Integrated Skills, Media, News, Current Events, Story-telling, Narratives

Time:              80 minutes

Age/Level:      Modifiable for different ages and levels, but better at higher levels and ages.

Numbers:        Three or more groups of two or four students

Skills:              Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, Creative thinking

Mixed Headlines is an integrated task in which students weave different stories together. It works well when related to a topic like media and current events, but it can be customized to a variety of topics as well as a range of levels and ages.

Objectives:

  • Finding news/stories from various sources
  • Explaining the main “WH” details and narrative of a story
  • Writing a creative storyline
  • Narrating a storyline

Preparation:

  • In the previous class, give students the homework of finding a story. The type of story will depend on what topic you are studying. If it is general current events, then have them find an interesting current events story. If you are studying technology, then have them find a technology story. If you have younger or lower level students, have them find an interesting short story that they can understand and explain. The key is that the story must have a narrative. Instruct students to only choose short stories in which they can identify the main details (answer the six WH questions) and follow the narrative. Let them know that they will have to explain the story in the following class which should make them choose better stories.
  • Alternatively, this step can be done at the beginning of the class. I have students find stories at home because they usually have better resources and this step can take a while.
  • You will need several stations for this activity. Students will be in small groups and each will need a station, so you may need to rearrange the desks/tables.

Steps:

  1. Groups (2 minutes): Put students into small groups and give each group a station. This activity works best with at least four groups. They will be split up later in the task, so there needs to be at least two students in each group. The ideal number for this task is four groups of four.
  • Warm up Questions (5 minutes): Write the following questions on the board: “Has your friend ever given you the wrong information? What happened?” “Do news companies ever give incorrect information? Why?” Have the students discuss. Go over the answers together briefly.
  • Explain your story (20 minutes): Have students take out their news stories and have them explain them to their group members. Tell them to go over the main details of each story:
  • What is it about?
  • When and where does it take place?
  • Who is it about?
  • How does the story unfold? What happens?
  • Why does it happen? What were the events that caused this story?
  • Make a new story (20 minutes): Once everyone has explained their story, have them combine the details of each story together to create a completely new story. They should write the story down on a piece of paper making sure that it has all the main details.
  • Divide Speakers & Listeners (3 minutes): Once the stories are finished, take the pieces of paper from each team, split each team in half and have the two halves play rock, paper, scissors. The winning half gets to choose between speaking and listening. If they choose speaking, they will stay at their station and explain their new story. If they choose listening, they will rotate around to the next station and listen to the next group’s story.
  • Rotate (1 minute): Once the speakers and listeners have been determined, rotate the listeners to the next group where they listen. Speakers stay where they are and wait for incoming listeners. Make sure to rotate the groups in an orderly circle so that students eventually rotate back to their own station.
  • Story-telling (5 minutes): Have the speakers explain their story while the listeners listen. Tell the listeners to listen carefully because they will be explaining that story next. Listeners can ask questions for clarification if they need.
  • Alternate Rotation (1 minute): Once all the speakers have finished explaining their stories, rotate the teams again, but this time, the students who did not move last time (the speakers) will move. So, speakers move to the next station where they will reunite with their original team. However, now the roles are reversed. The incoming speakers will become listeners and the remaining listeners will become speakers.
  • Story Re-telling (5 minutes): Have the new speakers give the details of the story that they have just heard (the story always stays at the station even though the students rotate through). Again, tell the new listeners to pay close attention because they will be explaining this story in a short time.
  1. Repeat (Varying time): Repeat the alternating rotation process. The listeners stay at the station and become speakers, while the speakers move on and become listeners and then alternate the next rotation. Do this until every team has been to every other station.
  1. Check the stories (10 minutes): Stop the rotation when the teams are at the station just before their own. Bring the class back together and have the teams explain the story of the station that they are at. Have the team from the corresponding station listen and check if they have all the right details. Because this is a high-pressure information sharing activity, the details of each story will change as they get passed through different teams which will be met with great hilarity by everyone.
  1. Follow Up: Once this is all done, explain the importance of listening carefully and getting the correct details. You may even want to go over some listening strategies or discuss why it is important for media outlets to report correct details.

Biographical Information (From the Winter 2017 issue of the BC TEAL newsletter)

Edward Pye is a New Zealander with an English literature degree from Otago University. Before moving to British Columbia, he taught in South Korea for eight years. Since then, he has worked as an Educational Programmer and EAP instructor on UBC’s Okanagan campus and as an EAL instructor at Okanagan College.

This article is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Original reference information:

Pye, E.  (2017, Winter). Mixed headlines. TEAL News. Retrieved from https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/TEAL-News-Winter-2017.pdf

Classroom Corner: Word Share Vocab Review

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by Edward Pye

[This article was first printed in the Fall 2017 issue of TEAL News.]

Tag Words: vocabulary, speaking, writing, peer-review

Time: 60+ minutes

Age/Level: Intermediate+

Numbers: Any number

Requirements: Multimedia, Gmail, Students’ laptops

WORD SHARE is a technology-infused task-based activity that runs through a number of skills all while focusing on the set vocabulary.

Objectives:

  • Learn new vocabulary
  • Write accurate sentences using vocabulary
  • Teach other students and peer-review their work

Preparation:

  • Create a shared Google Document for all the students in the class including the vocab you want to teach and a table for students to write sentences.
  • Have students create Gmail accounts; they will need them to edit the document.
  • Have students bring their laptops to class.

Steps:

1. Assign the Vocab (15 minutes)—Bring up your Google Doc on the multimedia screen so that all the students can see the vocab. Assign 1 word to each student and tell them they must find the meaning of that word, the different forms and some common collocations. Give students 10 minutes to do this.

2. Share the Vocab (20 minutes)—Once students are confident they have all the information, have them stand up and go around the room. They must partner with another student and teach them their word and all the information that goes with it. Partners must take note of the info they learn. Give them about 3 minutes to explain their words and then have them rotate around to another partner. Repeat this another 4 or 5 times.

3. Write (15 minutes)—Once students have been taught about 5 words, stop the activity and have students go back to their computers. In the table on the shared google document, have students come up with and type in a sentence that includes all the words they have learned. Alternately, this can be done on the whiteboard.

4. Peer-Review (20 minutes)—Have students read another student’s sentence and write a revised sentence next to the original. This can be done several times, so that there are multiple revisions of each sentence. Once done, revise the sentences yourself with the class on the multimedia giving feedback as you go. Once this is all done, students will have an easily accessible, lasting document with examples of feedback and accurate use of the vocabulary.

5. Homework—Have students find images online to illustrate their vocab or sentences and have them paste them into the document.

Biographical Information

From the Fall 2017 issue of the BC TEAL newsletter:  Edward Pye is a New Zealander with an English literature degree from Otago University. Before moving to British Columbia, he taught in South Korea for eight years. Since then, he has worked as an Educational Programmer and EAP instructor on UBC’s Okanagan campus and as an EAL instructor at Okanagan College.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Original reference information:

Pye, E. (2017, Fall). Word Share Vocab Review. TEAL News. Retrieved from https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/TEAL-News-Fall-2017.pdf

Classroom Corner: Constrained Writing

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by Edward Pye

[This article was first printed in the Summer 2017 issue of TEAL News.]

Tag Words:  Lateral thinking, Writing

Time:  30 + minutes (depending on how many rounds you do)

Age/Level:  Modifiable for different ages and levels, but better at higher levels and ages

Numbers:  Can be done individually, with a partner or in small groups

Skills:  Creative thinking, Writing

Constrained Writing is a fun writing warmer taken from poetry writing that makes students think beyond the structures of a normal sentence.

Objectives:

  • Think quickly and creatively
  • Write sentences that follow various rules yet maintain grammatical and lexical sense

Preparation:

  • Print out the rules of the activity for your own use.
  • Put students into small teams; have them take out a piece of paper and a pen and chose a team name.
  • Put team names on the board with a space below each team name.

Steps:

  1. Explain the activity (3 minutes): Write the name of the activity on the board and ask students if anyone knows what “constrained” means. It’s a fairly uncommon word, so you might have to explain it. I like to use the noun form “constraints” and do a mock arrest on a student.
  2. Model the activity (3 minutes): I usually model this activity by using the first rule which is “You cannot use any Es in your sentence.” The goal of this activity is to write the longest possible, grammatically correct, sensible sentence, so you can give an example of a sentence with no Es on the board.
  3. First Round (3 minutes): The “no E” rule is a good one to start with, so give the students 3 minutes and with their team, have them write the longest possible sentence they can without Es. Be strict on time.
  4. Check the Sentences (5-7 minutes): When time is up, pens go down and have the teams read their sentences out loud while the teacher writes them on the board under their team name. (Alternately, with a multi-media set up and google docs, this can all be done automatically). Once the sentences are up, give the class 2 minutes to review the sentences and try to find any grammar mistakes. Go through each team’s sentence and check it for grammar, if it makes sense, and if it follows the rules. The team with the longest, correct sentence gets 1 point and the team with the most points at the end is the winner.
  5. Following Rounds (20 minutes +): There are many different rules you could institute for following rounds, but here are my personal favorites. You may need to model some of these to make the rules clear:
  • Lipogram: A common letter (such as E) is banned.
  • Reverse-Lipogram: Each word in a sentence must include a specific letter.
  • Alliteration: Every word in the sentence must begin with the same letter.
  • Anagrams: Teams choose 1 word and must make a sentence out of the letters.
  • Chaterism: Each word must have more letters than the last word Ex. “I am sad today.”
  • Single Syllables: Each word must only have 1 syllable

Biographical Information

From the Summer 2017 issue of the BC TEAL newsletter:  Edward Pye is a New Zealander with an English literature degree from Otago University. Before moving to British Columbia, he taught in South Korea for eight years. Since then, he has worked as an Educational Programmer and EAP instructor on UBC’s Okanagan campus and as an EAL instructor at Okanagan College.

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This article is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Original reference information:

Pye, E. (2017, Summer). Constrained Writing. TEAL News. Retrieved from https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/TEAL-News-Summer-2017.pdf

Classroom Corner: Murder Mystery Lesson Plan

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By Edward Pye

[This article was first printed in the Winter 2016 issue of TEAL News.]

“Murder” is an active vocabulary review and speaking activity that will really engage your students and have them working together closely in teams. It is ostensibly called “Murder” and it works great when you are teaching a topic related to crime; however, the format of the activity can be changed to any topic you can think of. In a recent lesson plan, I adapted it to travel and have used it before for medicine and sports. For the purposes of this article, I will model it using the murder theme.

Objectives:

  • Review vocabulary through description.
  • Practice speaking skills by creating questions and answers.
  • Have students working together in teams to problem solve.

Preparation:

  • Before the class, cut up about 40 strips of paper. How many you need exactly will depend on how many teams you make.

Steps:

  1. First, you need to make teams. Depending on the size of the class, you can do teams of 2, 3 or 4. The activity works best if you have at least 4 teams but not more than 10, so if you have 12 students then go for 4 teams of 3. Put the students into teams, have them sit together, and have them choose a team name. Write the team names on the board.
  2. Next, you need to explain the premise of the activity; Someone has been murdered, (I usually choose another teacher or someone that the students all know, but that isn’t in the class), and the teams need to use their investigation skills to figure out the murder weapon, the scene of the crime, and the murderer.
  3. Put 3 columns on the board; murder weapon, crime scene and suspect.
  4. Start with weapons. As a class, brainstorm different kinds of weapons and write them up on the board. Get them to think of unusual weapons, which adds a little bit of fun to the activity.
  5. You need to brainstorm enough weapons so that there are 2 for each team and 1 extra. If you have 4 teams, the class needs to think of 9 weapons. If there are 5 teams, then 11 weapons.
  6. Do the same for the crime scene and the suspect categories: 2 for each team and 1 extra. With the suspect category, I have them name a student in the class, as well as a fictional job that that student has; for example, “John the Doctor”.
  7. All of these items (weapons, crime scene, and suspects) need to be written on individual pieces of paper, so choose 3 students, give them some strips of paper, and have them write items down as you write them on the board; 1 item for 1 piece of paper.
  8. When all the brainstorming is finished, have the students copy all the information into a notebook, so they can refer back to it.
  9. Now, the teacher should re-collect the individual pieces of paper, keeping them in their categories.
  10. Without showing the students, choose 1 weapon, 1 crime scene and 1 suspect and put it in your pocket. Those 3 pieces of paper are the actual murderer, the crime scene and the weapon that was used, and this is the information that the students need to find.
  11. Next, randomly hand out all the other items to the teams. Each team should get 2 weapons, 2 crime scenes and 2 suspects. Make sure they keep their information secret from the other teams.
  12. Explain to the students that their goal is to find the 3 pieces of information that you put in your pocket. They now have 2 items from each category, so they can eliminate those things from their lists. Give teams 3 or 4 minutes to talk together and make sure they all understand what their items are.
  13. They then have to eliminate the other things from each category by questioning students from other teams about their items. Have the students stand up and go around the class meeting students from other teams to question them about their team’s items.
  14. There is 1 rule here; the students cannot simply go to another student and ask “Does your team have the gun?” They must ask indirect yes/no questions by describing the item. They can ask 3 yes/no questions; for example, “Does your team have a weapon that is made of metal?” If the student answers “yes” then the student can ask another question “Does your team have a weapon that can shoot bullets?” and finally “Is it a gun?”
  15. By getting a yes answer, the student knows that that team has that weapon, and thus this is not the actual murder weapon (because the actual weapon is in the teacher’s pocket.)
  16. If the student gets a “no” answer they must change partners.
  17. Give everyone about 10-15 minutes to go around and question students from other teams about their items. The goal with this part of the activity is to get students interacting and describing items with as much accuracy as possible. This reinforces vocabulary and understanding of the characteristics of the vocabulary.
  18. When that time is up, tell them to go back to their teams and compare the information they have found. Most teams will not have found all the answers because their initial attempts will have been unorganized. Tell them that you are going to give them 5 more minutes, but this time, tell them to make a plan, perhaps 1 student only asks about weapons, 1 only about crime scenes and the other, only about suspects.
  19. When the 5 minutes is up, have them come back together in their teams and compare again to see if they found the answers that are in your pocket. They may have found the exact answer, or they may have eliminated it down to 2 or 3 choices. If they still have possible choices, they have to take a guess.
  20. Have the teams write down on a piece of paper what they think are the actual 3 pieces of information. Collect them, and write them up on the board next to their team name.
  21. Now it’s time to reveal the actual answers and see which team was the best at investigating. The team that has the most correct answers is the winner.

This is the murder version, but it can be done with many different topics. For something like travel, you can change the 3 categories to country, landmark and holiday activity and then have students try to figure out what you did on your vacation. For medicine, you can do symptoms and then get them to try and figure out the actual sickness. The format can work in many different ways.

Biographical Information

From the Winter 2016 issue of the BC TEAL newsletter:  Edward Pye is a New Zealander with an English literature degree from Otago University. Before moving to British Columbia, he taught in South Korea for eight years. Since then, he has worked as an Educational Programmer on UBC’s Okanagan campus and as an EAL instructor at Okanagan College.

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This article is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Original reference information:

Pye, E. (2016, Winter). Murder Mystery Lesson Plan. TEAL News. Retrieved from https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/BC-TEAL-Newsletter-Winter-2016-FINAL.pdf

Classroom Corner: Agree to Disagree Lesson Plan Activity

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by Edward Pye

[This article was first printed in the Fall 2016 issue of TEAL News.]

Agree to Disagree is a fun and interactive opinions-based speaking activity which could easily be prefaced with a lesson on arguing and debate. I usually run through the different phrases for giving opinions before I do this. It works well with high-level academic students, but can also be customized to lower levels by using less complex ideas and language.

Objectives:

  • Using language and grammatical structures for arguing and debating.
  • Thinking and responding quickly
  • Interacting in content-based discussions with multiple partners

Preparation:

  • You will need to clear a space for the class to line up in two lines
  • you will also need to prepare a series of controversial debate statements. Obviously you can tailor them to what you have been studying; however, the more controversial the topic, the better it works. I have found these statements work well at different levels:

Lower Level:

  • Cats are better/more fun/cleaner than dogs
  • My home city is more exciting/interesting/expensive than this city
  • Women are better than men

Intermediate Level:

  • All school children should have to wear school uniforms
  • Athletes and movie stars deserve the amount of money they make
  • The death penalty should be outlawed
  • A bear/lion/crocodile could beat a tiger/wolf/shark

Higher Level (academic):

  • Higher income earners should be taxed more than lower income earners
  • Women should be allowed to serve on the front lines in the military
  • Marijuana should be legalized everywhere
  • Fast food companies should be allowed to market to young audiences
  • Abortion clinics shouldn’t receive funding from the government.

Steps:

  1. Start by having all the students come to the front of the class and having them line up in two lines facing each other so that everyone is matching a partner. If you have odd numbers, put one person on the end in a group of three.
  2. Stand in the middle of the line and explain the activity to students
  3. The teacher will read one of the controversial statements aloud, the students have to carefully listen to the statement and quickly think about whether they agree or disagree with this statement.
  4. Once they have thought about their position, the student has to say “agree” or “disagree” before their partner can. The first student to do so gets to argue their opinion while their partner must argue the opposite (even if that is not their own personal opinion).
  5. Give students three to four minutes to debate with their partners. This can be a noisy activity, so I sometimes tell students to move away from the line to chat.
  6. When time is up, pull the students back together and quickly go over the main points on each side of the argument. Have the students give their ideas and then elicit rebuttal from the other side. Try to do this quickly because the activity can go on for too long if you let it.
  7. Once that idea has been talked through, rotate one line, so everyone has a new partner.
  8. Give the students the next controversial statement and repeat the steps.

I find that doing three or four rotations and giving about 10 minutes for each is good because it allows students to interact with more people, and that is the key for this activity.

Biographical Information

From the Fall 2016 issue of the BC TEAL newsletter:  Edward Pye is a New Zealander with an English literature degree from Otago University. Before moving to British Columbia, he taught in South Korea for eight years. Since then, he has worked as an Educational Programmer on UBC’s Okanagan campus and as an EAL instructor at Okanagan College.

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This article is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Original reference information:

Pye, E. (2016, Fall). Classroom Corner: Agree to Disagree Lesson Plan Activity. TEAL News. Retrieved from https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/BC-Teal-Newsletter-Fall-2016-Final-2.pdf

Classroom Corner: No No, No Yes—Open Answer Activity

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By Edward Pye

[This article was first printed in the Spring 2016 issue of TEAL News.]

One of the biggest challenges for students when they are having casual conversations is how to keep the conversation going and optimize their ability to practice the language they have learned. For a variety of reasons, students often close conversations off by simply answering either “yes” or “no.” This activity is a fun way of stopping students from doing that.

Objectives:

  • To practice avoiding “closed” responses in conversation
  • To use full answers when responding
  • Engage and reenergize students with short conversations

Preparation:

  • Get some form of tokens (I use Poker chips) with enough for around six for each student.

Steps:

  1. Preface this activity by asking students what the most important aspects of “speaking” English are. You will get answers like pronunciation and intonation, but students may not talk about the problem of answering with closed answers. For example, “Do you like Canada?” If the student just answers “yes” then the conversation finishes, but if the student answers “I love Canada because of all the natural beauty” then the opportunity for follow up questions and more speaking practice arises.
  2. Explain this idea to the students and then have them brainstorm derivatives and synonyms for “yes” and “no” (yeah, nah, yup, nope, yah, of course, and so on).
  3. Write the words on the board and tell the students that all of these words are off-limits, so during the activity, they are not allowed to say any of them.
  4. Distribute at least six tokens to each student.
  5. Have students stand up and find a partner. They will get one to two minutes to talk with their partner and ask them questions on any topic. If, while answering questions, a student says any of the off-limit words, they must give one token to their partner. This should encourage the students to answer with longer more complex answers.
  6. When the one to two minutes are up, have students find a new partner and begin again. Rotate through partners for as long as you want the activity to go for. It could be finished in 15 minutes, but I find it usually lasts longer because students love it and want to keep going.
  7. When the time is up, the student with the most tokens could be declared the winner.

Biographical Information

From the Spring 2016 issue of the BC TEAL newsletter:  Edward Pye is a New Zealander with an English literature degree from Otago University. Before moving to British Columbia, he taught in South Korea for eight years. Since then, he has worked as an Educational Programmer on UBC’s Okanagan campus and as an EAL instructor at Okanagan College.

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This article is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Original reference information:

Pye, E. (2016, Spring). Classroom corner:  No no, no yes—Open answer activity. TEAL News. Retrieved from https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/BC-Teal-Newsletter-Spring-2016-FINAL.pdf

 

 

Getting to Know Each Other: A Lesson Plan for “Liar Liar”

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by Edward Pye

[This article was first printed in the Fall 2015 issue of TEAL News.]

This is an exciting and fun class activity that engages students in multiple skills as well as allows them to find out more information about their classmates. I often use it as an introductory game for intermediate to advanced level classes.

Objectives:

  • Practice written skills by producing several brief written explanations of events in students’ lives.
  • Practice speaking skills by creating questions and answers for these events.
  • Engage quick thinking and creative skills by making up explanations under pressure.

Preparation:

  • Before the class, cut up enough strips of paper so that every student gets three pieces each.

Steps:

  1. First, hand out three strips of paper to each student and explain that students are going to write brief explanations about three different things about themselves: one on each strip of paper.
  2. Model the activity by writing three headings on the board:
    1. A Secret
    2. An Experience
    3. An Interesting Fact about me.
  3. Then fill in the headings with a corresponding sentence about yourself. This can be a good chance to teach grammatical phrases such as “When I was…”
  4. Give the students 10-15 minutes and have them write their own sentences: one on each strip of paper. It is important to tell the students that if they have a secret and they don’t want other students to know it, then they should not write it down. They should also not show their sentences to other students.
  5. As they finish, go around the class and check their sentences for errors.
  6. Once you have corrected their sentences, have them write their names on the strips of paper and collect them.
  7. Put students in teams of three. Teams of two and four also work, but three is the optimal number.
  8. One student from each team comes to the front and stands facing the class in a line.
  9. Find those students’ sentences from the collection and choose one sentence from one of them and read it out to the class. This sentence is the truth for one of the students at the front, but all the other students must pretend like this is their sentence.
  10. The sitting students now have to find out who is telling the truth by asking questions. The theory is that the students who are lying will have much slower and less in-depth and inconsistent answers than the student telling the truth.
  11. Each team can ask two or three questions which all the students at the front answer, and then the teams can deliberate for a minute to discuss who they think is telling the truth. Once they have their choice, the truth-teller is revealed and the teams that got it right get a point.
  12. You then play again with new students. The team with the most points at the end is the winner.

Biographical Information

From the Fall 2015 issue of the BC TEAL newsletter:  Edward Pye is a New Zealander who has been working in the international education field for a number of years. After completing an English literature degree at Otago University in 2001, he moved to South Korea where he taught for eight years in both the private school and university systems. Upon meeting his Canadian wife, he shifted to BC where he continued teaching as well as moving into the curriculum development field.

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This article is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Original reference information:

Pye, E. (2015, Fall). Getting to Know Each Other:  A Lesson Plan for “Liar Liar”. TEAL News. Retrieved from https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/BCTeal-Newsletter-Fall-2015-Final-2.pdf