Lesson plan–“A Single Life”

A Single Life from Job, Joris & Marieke on Vimeo.

The other day a friend recommended this year’s Oscar nominated short animation, “Negative Space.” It is a very good little film, and I thought about using it in my Fundamental English class. As I poked around on YouTube, I found more shorts from years past. One of them, “A Single Life,” is short, sweet, and funny, with a poignant message that I thought would be fairly accessible and interesting to my students. Here is the lesson plan for what I did with them today.

LESSON: “A Single Life”
LEVEL: Could be done with any level of adult learners; adjust as needed to suit your audience)
PURPOSE: to introduce students to the idea of/have them practice textual analysis
MATERIALS: online version of the film at the filmmakers’ site, Vimeo or YouTube
PREP TIME: very low


Students pair up and discuss the following:

  1. If you could travel backwards or forward in time, which would you choose and why?


1. Students watch the film all the way through the first time.

2. Afterwards, get students to summarize what happened.

3. Go back and get students to listen to the lyrics of the song on the record. You may need to pause it so they can hear each line. Get a student to write the lyrics on the board as the class deciphers them.

4. When the students have the lyrics mostly correct, give them/project the full lyrics (available here).

5. Ask students for their thoughts on the film. What message do they think it is communicating? The depth of their answers will depend on their level and personal capacity.


Students write a paragraph on the topic, “What do you think is the message of the film? Provide examples to support your point.” Adapt as necessary for lower level learners–they may just write a few sentences, or you may do this together on the board as a class.


I will be thinking of the teachers in West Virginia this weekend as they continue to strike for better teaching conditions. Their state has outlawed collective bargaining and job action (aka striking), but the teachers there are paid so little, and they have such enormous public support, that they’re wildcatting anyway. Good for them.

From Dissent Magazine:

Like other teachers who have resorted to stopping work in recent years, the West Virginia teachers have emphasized that their goal is to make education better for every child in West Virginia. “Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions” has become the byword in these campaigns. The West Virginia teachers have demonstrated this commitment not only with their demands—for filling teacher vacancies, for smaller class sizes—but with immediate action. “As soon as we called the work stoppage for Thursday and Friday our locals took it upon themselves to start working with churches and food banks and different places to provide day care for the parents who needed it, to provide meals for the many students who get their hot meals at school,” said Dale Lee of the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA).

Open letter from West Virginia students in support of striking teachers

Oh god my blood pressure

I listened to this interview with Jordan Peterson, the University of Toronto psychology professor who refuses to call trans and non-binary students by their preferred pronouns. I am truly astounded by his entitlement, lack of self awareness around his own privilege, and profound lack of empathy. I am appalled that this man is a teacher.

When I listened to his interview, it seemed he was getting a lot of satisfaction out of feeling persecuted. There was a lot of anger and defensiveness. (I’m sure he would disagree with me.)

When someone asks you to treat them in a way that they feel is respectful, and your response is to say that no one can legally compel you to do that…well, that tells me a lot about you.

Why Is It Important to Respect People’s Pronouns? (A resource from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee)

An excellent takedown of Jordan Peterson’s pseudo intellectual hate-baiting by John Semley in the Globe and Mail 


this will be our year

This has nothing to do with education at all; it’s just one of my favourite songs and one of my favourite videos on YouTube. I suppose it’s an optimistic wish for 2018, too, since the last few years have been a bit rough on a lot of us for various reasons.