A-Santa-ism

Christmas is coming. A wonderful time. People running around as if they were mad, pushing and elbowing each other in the shops. The omnipresent Coca-Cola ads with Santa’s belly failing to remind us that, after all, it mightn’t be such a great idea to drink so much sugar and carbs.

Long live the lovely Christmas spirit!

Ok, I’m being sarcastic. But so is the article I’ve used for a reading Christmas lesson, since it attempts to scientifically disprove the existence of the bearded, red-clothed fat man and his pack of reindeer.

Primary Lesson Aims:

  • students will be better at using topic schema to understand a difficult article
  • students will practice reading for detail and become more independent and natural readers through noticing parts of the text that are difficult or interesting for them

Secondary Aims:

  • to practise working out meaning of unknown words from context
  • to have fun!

 

  1. Lead in. Speaking. 

     In pairs answer these questions:

  • Do you believe in Santa Claus (or his equivalent from your culture)? Why (not)?
  • If you don’t believe now, was there a time when you did? (e.g. as a child)
  • If so, when did you become a Santa atheist?
  • Do you think Santa is an important part of Christmas tradition or rather another example of western consumerism and commercialisation?
  • What do you think are the arguments for the existence and against the existence of Santa?
  1. Text orientation. (you can access the article here)

You are going to read an article entitled: The Physics of Santa and His Reindeer, which tries to prove the impossibility of Santa’s existence from a scientific standpoint. What arguments might have been used in the text? (i.e. speed at which he would have to be travelling, weigh of the sleigh etc). Make a list:

(NOTE: depending on the level, you might need to elicit or feed in some key ideas and phrases; OR provide one argument from the text in a condensed version as an example)

    3. Extensive reading.  

Now quickly read the text and see if your predictions were correct. You have 3mins to do it.
(NOTE: concept check: do you have to read the whole text? NO; are you going to stop on unknown words? NO, Are you going to look for key words in the text? YES)

4. Intensive reading.

Choose minimum one part of the article that you did not understand very clearly and/or that was interesting and you would like to read in more detail. Go back to that part and read it again more closely. Tell your partner what you have learnt.

5. Speaking 1.  

  • What is your reaction to the text?
  • Do you find it amusing? Why (not)?
  • Do the arguments convince you?
  • Is the writer serious? Why (not)?

6. Vocabulary. 

Choose minimum five words from the text that you are unfamiliar with. Use the context to work out their meaning.

Show and teach the words to your partner. Together retell the article using the words you have just learnt. Don’t worry about quoting the exact numbers.

7. Speaking 2.   

Discuss these questions: 
  • Is Christmas an important tradition or just a reflection of Western consumerism? Why (not)?
  • Should children be told Santa doesn’t really exist? Does this matter at all?
  • What positive and negative values (if any) does Santa embody? Do you find them important and relevant?
  • If you had a chance to meet Santa, what would you tell him and why?
ENJOY! 

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