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How many poems must Dylan sing… A lesson plan

Learner aims:

To develop the sub-skill of making predictions based on clues.

To listen for gist and to check predictions.

To become better able to express opinions in the context of Bob Dylan’s song: Blowing in the Wind.

Level –  B1 plus and above

Procedure

1)    Warmer:

T writes on the WB

Who’s won the Literature Nobel Prize?

Do you know anything about his life?

Discuss in pairs

(If students don’t know much about this topic, get them to look up information using their phones, a possible topic of discussion is the fact that a song-writer has won a Literature Nobel Prize). Don’t force the discussion based on what you want to discuss, try to elicit interesting ideas from students and their on-line research.

 

2)    Pre-listening: Reading as a springboard for discussion.

Tell students that the text you will give them is about Dylan’s interpretation of a song he wrote.

Ask them to guess the title of the song and choose three key words they feel summarise the main idea of the text.

 

Text: There ain’t too much I can say about this song except that the answer is blowing in the wind. It ain’t in no book or movie or TV show or discussion group. Man, it’s in the wind — and it’s blowing in the wind. Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some … But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know … and then it flies away. I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many … You people over 21, you’re older and smarter. (Dylan, Sign out, June 1962)

Students share answers in pairs and report to the whole group expressing their opinions.

 

3)    Reading parts of the song to predict content.

Tell students that you’re going to give them part of the song and they have to predict which words go in the blanks. You can use the first one as an example You may want to pre-teach cannon ball, or get them to google image it. Allow students some time to do this individually and then compare in pairs.

 

How many roads must a man walk down

Before you call him a man?

 

How many seas must a white dove sail

Before ___________________________________?

Yes, and how many times must the cannon balls fly

Before___________________________________?

 

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind

 

Yes, and how many years can a mountain exist

Before___________________________________?

Yes, and how many years can some people exist

Before___________________________________?

 

Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head

And ___________________________________?

 

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind

 

Yes, and how many times must a man look up

Before___________________________________?

 

Yes, and how many ears must one man have

Before___________________________________?

 

Yes, and how many deaths will it take ’till he knows

That ___________________________________?

 

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind

 

4) Listen twice or three times to check predictions and finally project or show the lyrics of the song.

 

5) Follow up 1: Expressing opinions

Get learners to choose their favourite sentences in the song and explain why they have chosen these sentences.

Follow up 2: Learners write their own idea using the structure…

How many times must…………….
Before…………………………….

My personal example: How many poems must Dylan sing, before they call him a poet?
If learners enjoy singing you can use all their sentences to create a song and sing along.

 

I’ll be teaching this in a few minutes! Let’s see how it goes, please post your comments below!

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