8 minutes in bygone New York
Have you been to New York City?
I haven´t…and since I am not a city person I do not think I will plan a visit to this cosmopolitan place. However, if I had a magic wand, I would love to travel back in time and see what life was like 100 years ago.
Luckily, due to Denis Shiryaev´s incredible restoration skills, I was able to have a stroll around the old streets of NY depicted in this video.
So here´s my suggestion for a mindful trip to New York City:
Ask the students to brainstorm words they associate with New York City. If someone has been to NY, they may want to share their experience there.
I would expect some of the following vocabulary:
Busy, crowded, hustle and bustle, skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, noisy, tourists, cabs
Ask the students to imagine what life was like there 100 years ago. Here are some questions to discuss:
What did the streets look like?
How did people get around?
What clothes did people wear?
What did the buildings look like?
What sounds could be heard?
What smells were there?
Were people in a hurry or do you think they enjoyed a leisurely walk?
Tell the students that they will watch colourised footage that was taken in NY City in 1911. While watching it, they need to complete the following sentences:
I can see…
I can hear…
I can smell…
I can touch…
After watching the video, check the students´ ideas. You may want to teach some specific vocabulary that appears in the footage:
rails, monument, pram, shoe shiners, smog, steamboat, walking stick, horseshoe, whistle, horns, horses neighing, soot, vintage cars
1. How did life in NY differ 100 years ago? ( encourage students to use the constructions: used to/would)
2. What surprised you most in the video?
3. How do you think the quality of life was different back then?
4. Would you like to have lived in that bygone era?
5. If so, how would your life have been different?
I often use meditations with my students as a pre-writing activity because they:
stimulate the imaginative aspects of the brain;
encourage critical thinking
enable us to reflect on our thoughts
help us to learn how to manage our emotions
we become more self-aware
You can find out more about meditations and how I use them in class in my blog posts
So here´s my brand-new meditation BEING AWARE, which aims to help your students relax and become more self-aware.
After the meditation, read the following writing prompt to the students
Imagine that you have a time machine and you can travel to New York in 1911. You have exactly eight minutes to write about your experiences there. Use words that describe what you heard, saw, smelled, tasted and touched during your travel. How did you feel?
NB. While the students are writing, you can play only the sounds from the video in the background to help them step back in time.
After completing the exercise, ask the students to share their stories. How are they similar or different?
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