(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)*
Some reasons why students seemed stimulated by this discussion:
1) They were surprised that they were currently feeling different emotions on that day.
2) They seemed interested to hear about different ways they coped with stress.
3) They were surprised by the findings of the research in the article and how they could apply that to their future.
4) They enjoyed comparing experiences giving speeches or performing.
Here is the basis for this discussion: Researchers have found that when we are in a stressful situation, we will be better at handling it if we say to ourselves that we are excited rather than try to calm ourselves down.
This and future discussion activities include four parts:
1) A one-page article usually including a brief summary of a high-interest research study.
2) Ten true-false comprehension questions.
3) Pre-Discussion Exercise in which students read and think about several questions about their experience and opinions about the topic before discussing them in groups.
4) Small-group discussions of the article in which each student is given a paper with different content/personal experience questions in the form of Student A, B or C.
5) Optional writing reflection activity.
About Discussion Activity 1: Which Is More Effective–I’m Calm or I’m Excited? and the handout.
Below is a 3-paragraph excerpt from the article
1 Imagine that you are going to give a speech in front of your classmates in a half hour. Like most people in this situation, you are probably feeling nervous, so you tell yourself to relax, to calm down. Actually, saying that to yourself is not a good idea.
2 A researcher found that the best thing you can say to yourself when you are feeling nervous about something is to say these three words: I am excited.
3 This sounds ridiculously simple, but it has been proven to be effective in several studies.
Here are some of the personal experience discussion questions that students look at individually first and later will discuss in their small groups.
Pre-discussion Exercise 2
Directions: Think about these discussion questions. You don’t have to write anything.
- Are you feeling some kind of emotions today, for example, happy, sad, nervous, worried, angry, or bored today?
- When you feel nervous, how do you try to make yourself feel calmer?
- When was the last time you performed in front of other people, for example, sing, play a musical instrument, act in a play? How did you feel before you started and while performing?
- Think about a time when you had to give a speech. Before giving the speech, did anyone give you advice about how to avoid feeling nervous?
- In general, on a scale of 1-10 (1 is very calm and 10 is very nervous), how much anxiety do you usually feel before taking tests?
Here is the link to the complete activity:
To make group discussion most successful, see these postings for activities
Also see this posting Want Your Students to Seem More Likeable? Research Says: Teach Them Follow-up Questions
*About the free-download materials. During my 40 years of teaching ESL, I have had many colleagues who were very generous with their time, advice and materials. These downloads are my way of paying it forward.