Lesson plan : Learning with YouTube videos

This is a new Lesson Plan I wrote and is now published on the current ELTA SERBIA NEWSLETTER, in the July-August issue

You can check out the whole newsltter here :


Learning with YouTube videos: Internet censorship

Key words: ​YouTube videos, debate, internet censorship, blended learning

Target learners:​Young adults or adults, C1+ level

Learning outcomes:

● By the end of this course, the learners will learn to search for a small variety of videos and to critically synthesize information/arguments to use in their debate,

● they will be able to enrich their knowledge about a current and controversial matter which they have experienced in some ways,

● they will learn to work together to reach an agreement on a controversial problem, solve a problem,

● they will learn to use online platforms to upload their written work and to hold a debate, like, and, and finally

● they will have to reflect on the debate by summarizing the important points of it.

Short description

In this blended learning activity, students will have to work on a controversial matter. While divided in teams, they will have to find youtube videos relevant to the side they have to present and defend, record their arguments to support their position and finally, make evaluations and judgments about this controversial matter. In the end, the two teams will have to hold a debate and reach a consensus.


The T spends some time choosing videos that present opposing arguments or depict opposing sides. 2­4 videos for each side should be enough but the T should make sure their duration is not over 15’ each. (In this activity, Ss are asked to search for the videos they should use, on their own. Yet, because this is time­consuming and/or difficult for some students, it is advisable that the T has already prepared a selection for them, at least for the weaker ones). Some example videos the T could show them or post on the platform are the following:

An informative video about internet censorship.

The Past, Present and Future of Internet Censorship

Internet Censorship Is the Wrong Answer to Online Piracy

Procedure ​(approximately 3 hours)

1. Tell your students that you have noticed that people of their age are very dependent on the internet and they spend a lot of time surfing the net. It is also true that there are a lot of voices currently calling out for online censorship because the internet is far too open. So, since this is a situation that they are familiar with, you thought it was time they discussed internet censorship because this is an issue in discussion lately. (5’)

2. Tell them that to be able to form a well­rounded opinion about the topic, they have to find videos on YouTube that support or condemn this kind of censorship. (5’)

3. Explain to them that they are going to be divided in 2 teams . (10-15’)

4. Allow them time to search for these videos online. Explain to them that you are going to be present and offer any help needed but you expect them to be independent in their search.

5. Tell them that in the next lesson, both teams are going to watch their videos about internet censorship in class. The first team are going to watch videos that support it and team number two will view videos against this censorship. (1 h)

6. Tell the students they should focus on three questions, which you have already posted on These are the following:

• Is internet a public or a private sphere?

• Should there be more censorship?

• Should freedom of speech be absolute or should it be limited?

7. They should note down all of the arguments used. Then, they have to upload the relevant videos as well as their arguments on so that both teams can prepare their counterarguments. No analysis or reflection of the arguments will be posted there, though. (30’)

8. You should set up the day the discussion will take place (online class).

9. On the day the online debate takes place, ask them to share the videos online on a specific platform and tell them they can also add the arguments they have come up with. Each member of every team starts a brief discussion by posting their comment/argument and their video. Other members are asked to post their responses to this (this procedure can be done synchronously as well as asynchronously). (1h)

10. You should moderate the discussion.

11. Once each team has decided about their arguments, they should also rank them in terms of validity. (10’)

12. At the end of the debate, the Ss can vote and then see the results. Remind everybody that they should reach an agreement in the end and perhaps even specify a solution. Remember, you are there to moderate and not intervene in any other way. (5’)

13. At the end of the class, the students will present their decision, again in the forum. (5’)

Follow up

Ask each team to write a summary of the debate as well as the decision on the matter and how the whole discussion has changed their perspective (if it has). They can post it later on

Software/web 2.0 tools


The learners need access to PCs with internet connection, possibly 1 PC for every 2 students.



Art in ELT : An interview with Chrysa Papalazarou


Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see.

Paul Klee

I met Chrysa Papalazarou, online first (through social media) and then in person, early this year, and we both thought that we had a lot in common, especially our love for art. Chrysa has been using art in her English class in a systematic way for the last 3 years and has created two blogs for this purpose. Her work caught my attention immediately because it was  the first time I saw a colleague use a systematic research-based framework to ‘marry’ ELT and the Arts. The framework in discussion is Visible Thinking which stems from Project Zero (Harvard University). Even more intriguing though, is the fact that through these lesson ‘proposals’ , as she likes to call them, Chrysa tries to raise her students’ awareness on contemporary issues such as War and Peace, bullying, disabilities, etc.

The following is a video Chrysa created to talk about her work :


  • Chrysa, I would like to welcome you and thank you for this interview. First of all, please tell us a few things about yourself.

I work as an English teacher in a state primary school in Greece. I have also worked in secondary education and as an educator with adults from socially vulnerable groups.

  • I would like to ask you about your blogs and how they started.

There are 2 blogs I have worked on this year: A personal blog (Art Least and a class blog (Art in the English Class ). I started elaborating on the idea of a personal blog, to share things I have worked on or would be working on, last summer after coming across Kieran Donaghy’s Film English, a website I love.

The Art in the English Class blog was a way to publicize students’ work during the project; a place where they could watch again the audio visual material used in class, their own photos from class work, share and read extracts from their learning journals, and an attempt towards more interaction through their comments.

  • Why ESL and Art?

Art is an extremely effective way of realizing educational aims and improving the quality of learning; language learning alike. I work a lot with paintings, photography and video. I try to use visual stimuli which provide an aesthetic alternative from commercial standards. I also try to choose topics that teach values. I am worried to see children so prone to acquiring a pseudo visual literacy devoid of meanings, true information and feelings. Media over exposure to consumerism ideals is responsible for that. I believe this approach enhances their ability to evaluate the huge amount of visual information they receive daily. It also helps them become active readers of images. Coupled with the powerful effect of thinking routines it can stimulate curiosity, imagination, creativity, and develop their critical thinking skills alongside their English language skills.

images (1)

  • What is your relation to art? Have you studied art in any way?

My relation to art is that of someone who appreciates art and looks at it with wonder just like my students. There are always so many things to discover.

  • Do you  think that any ESL teacher without any specific knowledge of art could use these lesson plans? How could they benefit?

Yes, the lesson proposals in Art Least provide step by step guidance. I use the term proposals instead of lesson plans. This is deliberate. To my mind, it means a greater degree of flexibility on how to make use of them. Someone may decide to experiment with the entire idea of the proposal or choose one or more steps and work on them. I was happy, for example, when I got feedback from colleagues who had tried out successfully in their teaching situations specific steps. The greatest benefit is in experimentation per se; in the will to try something different, a change for them and their students.

  • What about the students? How interested were they in these lessons?

The students were very interested and this was really rewarding. Working without textbooks, team work, ample of visual stimuli, meaningful themes, activities that ignited their curiosity, publicizing our work through the blog were some of the sources of their enthusiasm. They also loved the thinking routines we used, and this validates the Making Thinking Visible approach in that it fosters engagement and motivation.

  • Are you going to continue with your project next year?

This is an excellent question I keep asking myself, as well. I honestly do not know. The Art in the English Class Project has been a wonderful experience, enriching for students and me alike. But no two classes, no two projects are ever the same. I will be revisiting this question in September.

  • Thank you, Chrysa, for agreeing to talk to me and for your time.

Thank you, Vicky!

Anyone more interested in Chrysa’s implementation of the Visible Thinking Approach as well as Project Zero itself might find useful the links below.

Useful links

  1. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum / Project Zero Educational Collaboration in

  2. Papalazarou, Chrysa. The Art of ELT & the Power of Thinking Routines in

  3. Visible Thinking’ in