Here’s a video I’ve been using with my business students. It uses a very short TED talk by Terry Moore, all about tying shoes:
What I love about his video is how he takes something so commonplace and mundane and makes his incredibly intelligent audience realise that they are doing it wrong. He does this with great wit and flourish, before ending with the moral of his story which is the real message behind his talk.
That sometimes a small advantage someplace in life can yield tremendous results someplace else.
It’s a simple message, but can create a very fertile topic of conversation with business students. Below you can see how I’ve been using the video.
1) Give the students a shoe each (if that’s not practical, give them a piece of string which they can imagine is attached to a shoe). Ask them to tie the lace. Ask them to swap shoes and check each others knots. Get some feedback on how good they think the knot is.
At this point you’re probably going to get some strange looks from your students. Just give them a smile and tell them to trust you!
2) Show them the video.
3) After they’ve seen the video, ask them to go back to the shoe and reevaluate their partners efforts.
4) In pairs, ask them to practice tying the shoes. Can they tie a better knot?
5) Before showing the video again, ask them to identify the main thing we can learn from this video (“That sometimes a small advantage someplace in life can yield tremendous results someplace else”)
6) Normally I prefer to get my students to write their own comprehension questions, but this time around, just as a one off, I made them for reasons I’ll explain at the end.
Give them some comprehension questions (see the attached handout):
- How does he describe the TED audience? (intellectual, worldly, savvy, and innovative.
- What was the problem with the shoes? (he was tying them wrong, they had round nylon laces)
- What did he think he would have achieved by the age of 50? (the ability to tie his shoes)
- What are the differences between the two knots? (one is tied on the weak axis, the other on the strong; the weak one goes down the long axis, the strong across the transverse axis; the bow goes in the other direction on the weaker form; it looks better)
7) Tell them you are going to play the video one last time. Ask them to make a note of the time whenever they have a language point to raise. This could be new vocabulary, interesting sentences, useful phrases etc.
I ask the students to note down the time as opposed to the language because it doesn’t seem reasonable to me to ask them to write down something they potentially don’t know. You can just go back in the video and ask them to point it out to you during feedback.
8) Get feedback and deal with any vocabulary that emerges. You can also point out any other language points that you noticed in the video that may be useful and that they missed.
9) Discuss the issue in groups. Again, I would prefer to get the students to generate their own questions, so I would begin by putting one of these questions on the board and letting them go from there:
– Can this rule be applied to anything in your life / workplace?
– Do you remember a situation where a small change made a big difference in your professional life?
– Is there anything in your current work where you think a small change could make a big difference?
This discussion is an opportunity for them to practice new language that has emerged from the video, so encourage them to try. You can make notes during the discussion in order to give some feedback after it is over.
As I said above at point 6, I decided to break my own rule and make a handout for this particular activity. This was because of Jason Renshaw’s materials design masterclasses. I have always admire his gorgeous materials, so I, along with some other people, encouraged him to give those of us who have battled with Word some tips in creating our own materials. He has more than delivered, creating a whole series of detailed instructional videos that go beyond the mere tips I was asking for.
The handout below is my effort based on his first three videos. I can’t believe how much better my materials look already. Imagine what they’ll be like after I’ve watched all twelve! Feel free to download and use the handout.