Rosanna Vargas’ lesson

  • Lesson Context:  8th grade     
  • Number of students: 10-15 students 
  • Students’ Age: 11-13, mixed gender  
  • Level: Intermediate                                                                                           
  • Topic: Child Labour
  • Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, learners will be able to:

  • Express phrases to introduce, present and contradict a point of view
  • Use the modal should to express their opinions about child labor
  • State their opinions using common expressions (I think, I believe, what worries me is that, the reason I.., etc)

Lesson Sequence

  1. Warm Up (Opening Activity)

START the class greeting the students and quickly ask them these questions:

Have you ever worked?  If you wanted to work, what do you think that your parents will think about it?

LISTEN to 4 or 5 answers. Introduce the topic that they would speak about today by saying that, in general, children and adolescents are not allowed to work in the world and that they will have the opportunity to express their opinions in this regard. To get started with the process and engage in a conversation, TELL them that they will answer to a poll. Using Poll Everywhere, ASK your students to quickly answer the following questions: (5 minutes)

  1. Should children and adolescents be allowed to work?
  2. Should children and adolescents be allowed to work in certain conditions?
  3. Who should decide if children and adolescents can work or not?
  4. Should countries change their laws about child labor? (Banning child labor can do more harm than good?)

As the students responses are received, CIRCULATE around the classroom and interact with them. Once all the answers have been received, look at the results on a screen. Then, TEACH the use of modals using the questions from the poll and its potential answers as examples. ANSWER to questions and comments. (5 minutes)

DISTRIBUTE the copies of the article Bolivia’s child workers unite to end exploitation, published in the WeeklyGuardian (December 2012), and ASK students to read it. TELL them that they can notes as they read. (10 minutes)

After they are done reading, ANSWER students’ questions related to the vocabulary or the content. CHECK for understanding. ENCOURAGE one or two students to summarize in no more than 3 sentences the main ideas of the article. REMIND them that they do NOT need to provide their opinions.  (5 minutes)

Now that they have read the article, ASK them to work in pairs and choose to write:

A-  An conversation between Rodrigo Medrano Calle and a curious journalist (writing about children’s rights), based on the article and their own ideas. They can go back to the article and use their notes if needed.

B-  A conversation between a very passionate activist and a curious journalist (writing about children’s rights). They can go back to the article, use their notes and add their own ideas to support the opinion of the activist.

Remind students that the dialogues should include questions that ask what should be and should not be done about child labor. In addition, it should express clearly the opinion of the speaker that they chose. Give them time to write, review and edit their dialogues. Students will have to post their dialogues in a blog (as these dialogues will be expanded and recorded in future class sessions).  They should also add two elements (aspects) that they think should be included to assess their dialogues. (15 minutes)

INVITE students to share their dialogues. ASK the rest of the class to take notes so if they want to participate they paraphrase ideas that have been already presented or they add new ideas to the class discussion. (10 minutes).

The students answer to the poll again and the whole group compares how the responses varied after reading the article and interacting with their classmates. (5 minutes)


Ask students to imagine that:

A- They support Rodrigo Medrano Calle or Rolando Mamani and that they are going to collect more information to make their opinions stronger (which means that they will support child labor). ASK them to do research on the topic (advantages/benefits/pros of child labor) and ask them to send you two WhatsApp messages that will contain more information (facts, concrete details, specific examples or other references) to support their argument (to support Rodrigo’s opinion). Describe the scenario to at least two people and record their ideas.

B- They are opposed to Rodrigo Medrano Calle or Rolando Mamani’s opinions and they are an activist who works to protect children’s rights. ASK them to do research on the topic (disadvantages, risks, cons of child labor) and ask them to send you two WhatsApp messages that will help them to strengthen their opinion (facts, concrete details and specific examples or other references) to contradict Rodrigo and Rolando’s opinion.  Describe the scenario to at least two people and record their ideas.

The information will be used for next class. The messages will be written or recorded depending on the students’ profiles. Students are also invited to send you images or links. The additional comments collected from other two individuals will be differentiated as well.



We teach literacy in multiple forms. This affirmation means that our students’ futures are constantly changing (as ours) due to the rapid evolution of technology. However what is evident is that learners will need a highly diverse range of skills to be considered literate in a form that would look different even by the time that I finish writing the rationale underlying my proposed lesson plan.

Using the multiple ecosystems of MALL, I start proposing the instructor to use Poll Everywhere to promote interaction and motivate students from the start. This short yet powerful interaction could serve (looking from a pedagogical ecosystem) to build the confidence to share opinions as some learners do not feel comfortable expressing their ideas in large groups or feel intimidated to speak immediately. From a cognitive perspective (processing) (linguistic ecosystem) the participation in the poll gives the class the opportunity to think and gradually prepare for the following activities. This is an attempt to reduce the cognitive load that sometimes results from asking students to share and produce ideas. At the end of the lesson, the poll is repeated and students have the chance to compare the opinions they had at the beginning and the perspectives that resulted from the content presented in the lesson.

The poll questions and its responses are used for instructional purposes. The sentences are used to notice the use of modals. I kept in mind the linguistic ecosystem and I intentionally “recycled” the poll questions as an authentic scenario where the target structure taught is found. I can imagine that learners might find more meaningful using a structure that they were already  exposed to than looking at artificially created examples.

In the lesson proposal, I also included the use of the blog for students to submit their work. First, I think that it facilitates collecting and storing students’ work and analyzing it to provide them feedback. Second, asking them to provide at least two ideas about how their work should be assessed invites them to reflect about their learning processes and documents their growth. I believe that students will respond effectively and meet assessment standards if they understand clearly what the assessment target is and if it is clear to them. In addition, involving students in the creation of the assessment criteria and definition of the learning goals promotes ownership and democracy in the classroom.

I also propose that students send WhatsApp messages with additional information to strengthen the opinions that they have regarding child labor. I decided this because in doing so I integrated elements of the sociocultural ecosystem (asking students to communicate in a channel that is probably familiar and relevant to them) and also because, understood from a pedagogical ecosystem, it allows me to differentiate the instruction as students are expected to share information in written or verbal form (based on their profiles). Students are also given the freedom to include images and links. Differentiated instruction is about giving learners choices based on interests and learning styles. From a sociocultural perspective, it also gives a new face to “homework”. Doing homework by sending WhatsApp messages is certainly more friendly that submitting the traditional worksheet.

The technological ecosystem (portability) contributes to continuing the conversation that started in the class later outside of it. Furthermore, it allowed me to create an easy channel for crowd sourcing (asking two more people and recording it).   I also thought that students might speak to people who do not speak English which far from being a problem could be an opportunity for learners to negotiate and notice the gap (linguistic ecosystem) on how they can express the ideas they collect. The learners’ engagement and the depth of the tasks are very likely to be strengthened. As students do their research, they will have to learn new vocabulary and idiomatic expressions to express their opinions.