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To This Day

Posted on February 25, 2013 by kierandonaghy

to this date big

This EFL lesson is designed around a beautiful and poignant video based on the spoken word poem To this Day by Shane Koyczan.  The video is the result of the To This Day Project to raise awareness of the long-term effects of childhood bullying. Students watch two short videos, speak about bullying, write a poem or story and read a poem.



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Language level: Upper Intermediate (B2) – Advanced (C1)

Learner type: Teens and adults

Time: One 90 minute class and 30 minutes of following class

Activity: Watching two short videos, speaking, writing a poem or story and reading a poem

Topic: Bullying

Language: Vocabulary and expressions related to bullying

Materials: 2 short videos, anti-bullying posters, discussion questions and poem

Downloadble materialto this day lesson instructions     To This Day by Shane Koyczan    anti-bullying-slides     bullying discussion questions


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Step 1

Show your students the first slide of the PowerPoint presentation and ask them if they understand the expression. If they don’t know, explain that Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me is an expression said in order to show that people cannot be hurt by unpleasant things that are said to them. Ask them if they agree with this expression or if they think that words really can hurt. Show your students slides 2-6 which come from anti-bullying campaigns and all show that words can hurt. Go through the vocabulary and expressions, and discuss the slides. 


[slideshare id=15755267&doc=anti-bullyingslides-121225035655-phpapp01]



Step 2

Put your students into pairs and ask them to discuss the questions about bullying.


[scribd id=117908516 key=key-jzzxcyaesfki63apql7 mode=scroll]



Step 3

Tell your students that they are going to watch a short video in which spoken word artist Shane Koyczan explains an anti-bullying project.  Ask students the following question:

What is the project?

Show the video and then get feedback.

To This Day Project from Giant Ant on Vimeo.


To This Day Project is a project based on the spoken word poem by Shane Koyczan called “To This Day”, to further explore the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual. The project asks for motion artists and illustrators to create beautiful animations to accompany the poem.


Step 4

Put students into small groups and ask them what images they would use to accompany a poem about bullying. Set a time limit of 5 minutes, and then get feedback from each group.


Step 5

Tell your students they are now going to watch the video but with the sound turned off. They should notice the images and compare them with the images they talked about tin the previous stage.


To This Day from To This Day on Vimeo.


Step 6

Ask students the following questions:

How did the video make you feel?

What word would you use to describe the video?


Step 7

Tell your students they are now going to write a narrative or a poem about bullying based on the images in the video. Keep them in the same small groups. Tell them they can ask you to stop the video at again point and ask about vocabulary or expressions. As they watch the film again they should make notes about what they see. Show the film. Show the film.


Step 8

Give students 20 minutes to write their poem or narrative. Help them with any vocabulary or expressions they would like to use.


Step 9

Ask one student from each group to read out their poem or narrative. Talk about each poem or story.



1. Tell your students that would like them to perfect their poems and narratives for homework.

2. Give your students the poem To this Day and ask them to read it for the next class. Warn them that it is difficult and that they will need to use a dictionary to look up some words and expressions.


[scribd id=127598391 key=key-dd6rrrrcwlpe3ze1nl8 mode=scroll]

Following class

Step 1

Ask your students the following questions:

How did the poem make you feel?

What words would you use to describe the poem?

What new words or expressions did you like?


Step 2

Now show students the video with the sound on. Get feedback about the meaning and message of the poem.


Step 3

Ask students to look at these lines of the poem:

if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself
get a better mirror
look a little closer
stare a little longer
because there’s something inside you
that made you keep trying
despite everyone who told you to quit
you built a cast around your broken heart
and signed it yourself
you signed it
“they were wrong”


Ask them to discuss the meaning of the lines.


I hope you enjoy this English language lesson.

Support Film English

Film English remains ad-free and takes many hours a month to research and write, and hundreds of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy or value in it, please consider supporting Film English with a monthly subscription, or by contributing a one-off payment.

Monthly subscription

One-off payment


17 thoughts on “To This Day

  1. You sir, are truly amazing! I wanted to use this poem for my class as they are at that cruel age to perceive difference as a threat. I did not know how to structure the lessons, but your plan seems great. I am borrowing these ideas but with small adjustments to suit my students age, if thats OK with you. Thank you again.

    • Hi Ida,
      Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment. I’m really happy that you like the lesson so much. Of course, you can adapt the lesson for your students; I hope they like it.
      All the best,

  2. Pingback: February Round-up | Creativities

  3. I really loved all the activities around this beautiful poem. thanks for being an endless source of inspiration to my lessons.. even when students seem to be so alienated from school itself. I always find comfort in your material and your ideas.
    please keep on inspiring us!

    • Hi Elsa,
      Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment again and for your kind words. I’m really happy that you and your students find inspiration in the lessons; it makes all the hard work worthwhile.
      All the best,

    • Hi Maisam,
      Thanks a lot for commmenting; I’m really glad the site helps you in your English learning. recently a lot of students have told me they use the site.
      All the best,

  4. Hello, I am a foreign student and I am learning English as a foreign language. I enjoyed the lesson very much and I find it very educative for my colleagues and for students all around the world. Bullying seems to grow as a problem nowadays.

    • Hi Ana,
      Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment and for your kind words about the site, I really appreciate them. It’s great to know that students find the site useful in their learning.
      All the best,

  5. Hi Kieran! I got the video with the poem first through one of TESOL’s interest groups and as a teacher trainer and EFL teacher I felt I had to use it and share it with my colleagues. Fortunately I found your lesson plan and I’ve selected some of the activities and added a couple of my own. Now I’m planning to share them with a group of colleagues at a seminar in Tucuman, Argentina. I’ll be passing on your website link for everyone to use your wonderful material. Thank you so much for sharing it! If you’d like further information, please feel free to contact me.