Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Pursuit of Happiness in the classroom

In this post, I'd like to share some activities I did with my students when we were discussing the movie "The Pursuit of Happiness".

1. A quote walkabout. Before the class, I printed out the quotes about persistance and positive attitude to life's challanges and put them on the walls in the classroom. As the class began I asked the students to walk around and read the quotes to find one (or more) that they think illustrates the main message of the film. After they'd studied all the quotes and got back to their seats they explained their choice.

2. Useful vocabulary. Before the discussion, I presented some expressions taken from one of the film reviews. These expressions help students talk about main events and concepts shown in the film. 

3. A Question Marathon. Students answer the questions, agree or disagree with their classmates, share their ideas and feelings. Questions are mainly taken from this blog.

1. What happens in Chris Gardner’s life to make him and his son become homeless?  
2. Did the events appear to you to be the result of someone’s fault, poor decisions, or just a sequence of events?
3. What would be different for Chris in this same situation if he didn’t have his son, Christopher, to care for?
4. What appears to be the most difficult aspect for Chris and his son as they use emergency shelters?
5. What do you think keeps Chris going when he hits ‘bottom’ in the despair of his situation?
6. What do you think would have happened to Chris and his son if he had not been the intern selected for the job?  
7. Explain how Chris felt at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
8. Select parts of the story that were the funniest, saddest, happiest, and most unbelievable.
9. Select an action of one of the characters that was exactly the same as something you would have done.
10. Take a look at the picture. What scene from the film is this quote connected with? How can you interpret it?

Taken from:

4. Small Group Discussions. In groups of 3-4, students discuss the task presented to them on a paper slip (around 10 mins) and then present their asnwers.


Team 1. Does Chris achieve his result in the end due to his intelligence, effort, or just luck? Explain the role of each component (a mind map).

Team 2. What work traits and ethics helped Chris be successful? Make a list.

Team 3. What can you learn from Chris about taking risks even after failure? Use examples from the film to illustrate your points.

5. A Pair Work Activity. Students work in pairs to write a summary of the film using expressions presented at the beginning of the class and later share it.

6. A follow-up quesion (in case you have some time left). 

Do you believe happiness is something that can only be pursued or can it be captured?  How does he pursue happiness?  How do you pursue happiness?

Other posts with movie worksheets: Big Fish, The Prestige, The Last Mimzy

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