Sunday 30 March 2014

Asperger Syndrome & Autism

Description: This lesson proposal is organized around the theme of Autism and Asperger syndrome through the use of a magnificent in its detail work of art by the Australian Steven Coventry, an artist with Asperger’s and a touching short film, “Q & A” by StoryCorps. The Visible Thinking routine used is I used to think..., But now I think...

Level: Intermediate-Upper Intermediate
Learners: All ages
Theme: Asperger syndrome and Autism
Language: Autism and Asperger related language, expressing opinion, may + infinitive
Skills: Observing and describing, speaking, watching a short film, developing reasoning abilities, recognizing cause and effect relationships
Materials: slides, a short video, worksheet, interview transcript

Step 1
Write the word Autism on the board and brainstorm your students around the theme.

Step 2
Show your students Steven Coventry’s painting and hold a plenary discussion around the work of art by asking questions such as: 
What do you think it is?
Do you like it?
Can you find a title?
Encourage your students to use language of expressing opinion such as:
I think…
I believe…
I suppose…
In my opinion…
As far as I am concerned…
As I see it…
It seems to me that…
In my point of view…

Step 3
Tell your students that the title of the painting is Blue Butterflies tongue. Then, show them the photo and ask them if they would ever think of drawing a butterfly’s tongue like this.

Step 4
Explain that what they see is a work of art by an artist who has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. Write on the board: If we want to accept and embrace any person within the autism spectrum we have to think out of the box. Have your students express their opinion about what the idiom think out of the box means (think freely, creatively, imaginatively, unusually). Ask them if they agree with the statement. 

Step 5
Tell your students that they’re going to watch a short video about Asperger with the title Q & A, which is based on an interview. Ask them to predict who will be the interviewer and who the interviewee. Allow 5 minutes and then show the video once.     

Step 6
Let students compare their predictions. Then, ask them how the video made them feel.

Step 7
Let your students in the same groups and tell them that they’re going to watch the video again and that they can ask you to stop it at any point and discuss vocabulary or expressions. Show the video.

Step 8
Ask groups a) to discuss the statements in the worksheet and decide whether they’re true or false and b) write as many sentences as they can using may + infinitive to describe Aspergers. Help them with vocabulary. Allow 20 minutes for the groups to complete the activities and get feedback.

Step 9
Show the autism awareness posters and quotes and ask them to discuss them in small groups.

Give students the transcript of the interview. Tell them to have a more careful look at it at home and ask them to write a short paragraph where they should reflect on their thinking about the theme of Autism and/or Asperger by using the stems:
I used to think…
But now, I think…

I hope you find this proposal worth experimenting.

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