Meet Jim

Classroom activities

Here you’ll find some practical ideas for working with the clip. Choose the ones that suit your teaching aims, particular group of learners, your teaching style, and then plan your own lesson.


’20 questions`

Homeless screenshot

Show the picture above and challenge your class to come up with 20 questions about Jim in 1 minute. Help with language if necessary. If they get stuck, give examples of your own. With your examples, encourage them to think of creative questions. E.g.

  • What was Jim like as a child?
  • What was his dream job?
  • What’s his favourite food?

‘Identity Swap’

Show the picture of Jim, and ask for a volunteer to take on his identity for a few minutes.  Give him a minute to take a good look at the picture and get into role. In the meantime, tell the rest of the class that they are journalists and they will have to write a ‘Day in the life of X’ type of article. They have 5 minutes to interview ‘X’, the person they will write about. This interview will be the basis for their article. Invite the volunteer to come to the front of the classroom and sit facing the class, and let the journalists ask their questions.

After about five minutes, ask the journalists to decide on an interesting title for their articles and to share this with the class.

‘Meet Jim’

Put students into pairs and ask them to write a paragraph introducing Jim. You can give them the framework below, or just ask them to do it as a free writing activity.

Meet Jim

He is ________ years old. He works as a ____________ . He is married with _______ children. He lives in _________ . He really enjoys _____________ . His friends say that he is very ____________ . His children think he is ____________ . What do you think?



‘Reading Aloud with Prompters’

Give out the text below and ask students to go over it trying to recall the missing words. Tell them NOT to write in the words, just to work from memory.  Then ask for a volunteer to come up front and read out the text. If s/he gets stuck, the group should act as the prompter in the theatre and remind them of the word. If nobody remembers, you can help. Have several rounds of this, till the students practically learn the text.

For d_______, Jim has s___________ with p___________ , h______________ , and a______________ . In  September 2013, he v______________ to go through this p_______________  t_______________ . Since filming Jim has t______  c_______ of his life. He is now s___________ to have his own h__________ and is a_____________ Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for the first time e____ .

Key: decades / struggled / poverty / homelessness / alcoholism / volunteered / physical transformation / taken control / scheduled / housing / attending 

Note: If needed, you can practise pronuncing the words before the text is read out.

‘Reflect & Share’

Ask your students to think about the following quotation:

“Beware, so long as you live, of judging men by their outward appearance.”  (Jean de la Fontaine)

Ask them to relate the quote to their own lives. Do any stories / personal experiences come to mind? Give them some time to reflect, and then ask them to share in pairs or small groups. Then invite one or two students to share their stories with the whole class.

‘Interviewing Jim’

Tell your class that in some UK schools a homeless person is invited as a guest in order to raise awareness of homelessness. If Jim was now here with them, what would they like to find out from him? Everyone should write at least two questions that they would like to put to him. Then tell them that in fact Jim is here and is ready to have a conversation with them. Depending on the maturity of your group, choose one of the options below:

a- Choose a student by turning to him or her saying: ‘Thank you very much, Jim, for agreeing to visit our class today and being ready to answer a few questions.’

b- Ask for a volunteer.

c- Take on the role of Jim.

Note: This is quite a powerful, high-risk activity. You need to know your students very well to decide whether you can do it or not . It also requires some time for debriefing and discussion. For example, after they have interviewed ‘Jim’, you may want to ask the student who acted in role what it felt like to take on a homeless person’s perspective. It is also a good idea to let the group share their thoughts and feelings related to the experience.

‘Follow-up Viewing’

Below is a link to a 4-minute video that tells the story of a 16 year-old girl who became homeless after a family breakup. The language is clear, and easy to follow. You can suggest the video as an optional, task-less follow up for students who are interested.

, ,

One Response to Meet Jim

  1. Bill Templer March 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Jim Wolf in this video was helped by a charity in Michigan to start a new life last year. But he is just one person. This video has gone viral, more than 17,310,000 hits. But a haircut, shave and new suit is not the end of his problems. Clothes and a shave don’t ‘make the man.’ Where is Jim now? Well, Search youtube: ‘veteran in makeover video making progress’ and you’ll learn more, some other aspects of his life, quite revealing. Search ‘Jim Wolf homeless’ on youtube and you’ll find a critical discussion of this video.

    The follow-up video from London is very strong, a teenage girl’s story out on the street, from a working-class family, thrown out by her own mother. Students can learn about Centrepoint charity. Girls like this often become sex workers. There’s no alternative. This girl didn’t. Can students imagine what she went through?

    For a supplementary video on the actual predicament of homeless veterans, may on drugs and alcohol, search ‘veterans homeless’ in youtube there are lots of clips. Men come back from some U.S. war or occupation abroad, they have no wife, no family, no job. And are literally out on the streets, no place to call home. Maybe they have a sister or brother who doesn’t or can’t help.

    This is part of the American nightmare, a product of a society grounded on individual success and personal blame for failure. And the collapse of much traditional family culture. No money for solutions? Of course there’s plenty of $$$. The question is the priorities of a society run by the corporations. The US has the biggest military budget in the history of this solar system. But the right to dignity (and to a guaranteed job at a living wage) is not part of basic human rights in the U.S. .

    Many clips on ‘homelessness USA,’ just search on youtube The working poor are also sometimes homeless in the U.S. People can make $250 a week and are still too poor to rent a place. In 2011, 46% percent of New York city residents were considered ‘poor’ or ‘nearly poor’. Nearly half the city. Income inequality is the U.S. is surging.

    Homeless women?: there are plenty. Catherine story’s is very stark. Yesterday was International Women’s Day. In youtube, just search ‘homeless Catherine.’ She died 11 months ago in California, on the street. She was a registered nurse, a marriage, kids, and lost control of her life. Catherine learned to survive ‘day by day.’The video you can find is her last word and testament.

    Imho, working toward a real solution is not just this system with a more ‘human face.’ It’s another very different system, people over profit. As Lennon wrote in his song ‘Imagine’: “You may say I’m a dreamer / But I’m not the only one.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.