Dec 042019
 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been working through the course Language Teaching for the Planet by Owain Llewellyn. We are now in Part 3, the final part, of the course, which asks participants to write and share a lesson plan with an environmental topic, bringing together what we have learned/discussed in Part 1 and 2.. The two course moderators, Owain Llewellyn (and for this part also) Daniel Barber, and the other participants will provide feedback on these lessons plans.

My interest is mainly in EAP/ESP lessons, so I’ve developed this lesson on air quality. It’s not a fully planned out or publishable lesson, but more a rough idea and plan developed for the course. I wrote it with the principles for writing environment-based lessons in mind, which I outlined here.


Context

EAP preparation year students in Turkey, going to study to become engineers in different fields
Localisaton: Use the same material but with a different interactive map or air quality data, such as AirVisual, that is available if used with other nationalities or international students in the UK, or other English speaking or English-medium universities.

Syllabus fit / rationale

In the previous lesson(s), they will have leared about graphs/diagrams and had practice in reading and guided writing of descriptions of graphs/diagrams.

Methodology: project-based learning

As these can be rather ‘dry’ academic lessons, this set of project-based lessons is to motivate them by providing a timely, relevant topic, including a video and by making it more interactive and personal, giving them choices and hands-on practice in conducting some research and presenting the outcomes.

Project-based lessons make tasks often more meaningful and ‘serious’ in the sense that it’s not just task to work through in a lesson as a context for some language outcome, but something that goes beyond that and is related to real life and real outcomes. Projects are also much more learner-centred and learner-led.

NOTE: If a project-based set of lessons is not possible, the first lesson can be used with slight changes, leaving time for doing a simpler research with the interactive map and writing it up as homework (individually or in small groups). If this can be done in GoogleDocs, everyone can read all the texts.. If that is not possible, the texts can be handwritten and pinned on the class noticeboard. If presentation skills should be practised, learners could prepare them as homework and deliver them in the next lesson. A class noticeboard or school noticeboard could be used to pin slips of paper with students’ pledges.

Outcomes

At the end of the lesson(s)/project, students will have…

  • learned some vocabulary related to air quality / pollutants
  • learned/reviewed some structures to talk about causes and effects, solutions (modals)
  • Practised listening (video), speaking (discussion, presentation, video production), writing (poster) skills
  • learned/practised transferable skills such as collaboration, producing a short video or an academic poster (if chosen) and organising a conference
  • researched the air quality (change) in a chosen location over a period of time (throughout a day/week/month/year) and drawn a graph showing the differences.
  • thought about causes, effects of and possible solutions for air pollution  (thinking of their own fields of engineering)
  • written a short paragraph and created a poster with visuals OR created a video OR prepared and giving a short presentation describing their graph and reasons for the changes 
  • presented their findings in the way chosen to the other students and tutors at a ‘air quality conference’ which they have to plan and organise (one 90-minute lesson long).
  • made a pledge for at least one change they’re going to make in their own lives to contribute to better air quality.

Long-term outcome: who knows, this might inspire some learners to work in this field once they have finished their studies.

Materials

  • A video such as this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6rglsLy1Ys
    (It should include some of the vocabulary they need, some reasons for pollution and some potential solutions, and it shouldn’t be too long to keep learners focused and make the language input manageable for them.)
  • An interactive website to research air quality in Turkey that provides a map, icons to click for different cities and areas in cities, with detailed information on the level of various common pollutants, outdoor activities that can be done or are not recommended if risky due to air quality, graphs showing the chosen pollutants over a period of time. Specific dates and hours in a day can be selected to observe changes over a chosen period of time. http://www.havaizleme.gov.tr/ (see screenshots below)
  • Poster material (if available, digital tool to create and print an academic poster, if not poster paper, markers, etc.)
  • Students’ phones (optional)
  • A survey tool (e.g. http://surveymonkey.com) (optional)
    The internet
  • A wall for personal pledges (if available, this could be done on the internet (on the university’s Facebook group or using a digital noticeboard, such as Padlet).

Turkey map - havaizlemehavaizleme 2

havaizleme 4

Procedure

Lesson 1 – Introduction and preparation

Warmer

  • Introduce the topic by, for example, showing the symbols for the various pollutants (NO2, SO2, CO, O3, etc.) and asking students what they think these relate to or what our topic is.
  • If they mention the names (Ozone, etc.) of these fine, write them up and practice pronunciation. If not, give students a few minutes to find out using their mobile phones.

While

  • Write on the board or projected Word/GoogleDocs ‘Air quality’, then underneath ‘How good is the air quality where you live / come from?’
  • Brief discussion with partners/neighbours
  • Using a prepared survey tool with options (very good, good, OK, not so good, very bad), students send their answers using their phones. (Low-tech alternative: write the options on the board, students raise their hand)
  • Write: ‘Causes of air pollution’ (‘Reasons for…’) / ‘Effects of air pollution’
  • In groups, students discuss reasons. If time, regroup and report to that group and listen for other reasons
  • Class feedback: depending on tech, each group adds to the GoogleDoc, or one student writes what the others say on the displayed Word doc. / Low-tech: if enough boards, groups (or reps) come to the board and write their ideas.
  • Do some language and pron. work with these, possibly add some sentence structures (e.g. for cause and effect: is caused by / might be due to / etc.)
  • Write: ‘Possible solutions’
  • Repeat the steps of group discussion, feedback, language work.
  • Show video: students watch and compare with their own ideas for causes, effects and solutions’ (depending on level, how the info in the video is organised, etc.), they can be asked to focus on one, e.g. causes), then watch again and focus on effects, solutions.
    [depending on the class, situation, guidance needed, tech availability, etc., the watching can be as a whole class or on individual devices]
  • Students add new information to the GoogleDoc.
  • Class feedback and highlighting and practice of new language that has come up.
  • If time, introduce the interactive air quality map for Turkey. Ask: ‘How good or bad do you think is the air quality right now here?’ Have them guess, then show the map. Tell them they will do air quality research in the next lesson. If no time, do this in Lesson 2.

What next?

If a project is possible, follow this lesson up with Lessons 2-3 (4) below.

Lesson 2 (and 3) – Research and preparation of presentation

  • Do a quick review of the previous lesson.
  • Explain the research project to learners and show the options and time they have to present their research.
  • Put students into small groups of three (max four).
  • Explain also that they have to organise an ‘air quality conference’ attended by other classes (who are doing the same project) and some tutors (possibly also admin staff).
  • Students start their research, decide on how to present it and start preparing.
  • Teacher monitors and helps where necessary and/or provides resources where students can find help.

Lesson 3 (or 4) – Conference

  • All classes/groups set up their posters in one corner (or room), computers or tablets with their videos in another, present in another.
  • Classmates, tutors, possible admin members and other staff attend the conference, ask questions, etc.
  • Depending on level, interest, circumstances, this could end with a panel discussion.
  • There will be a wall (or a large noticeboard with a big title/writing ‘My pledge for better air quality’ where students and participants will post their pledges of how they’re going to make changes in their own lives to contribute to better air quality, using slips of paper and pinning them to the wall, or post-its (Low-tech option). If the internet is available, this could be  done more online with hashtags to share on the university’s social media platform(s), or alternatively using a digital noticeboard, depending on what the students come up with and what is available.

 

Lesson plan: bottled or tab water

 EAP, Materials Writing, Sustainability Lessons  Comments Off on Lesson plan: bottled or tab water
Nov 272019
 

This is an integrated-skills lesson originally created for an EAP class in 2011. It’s been used by me and other teachers with different classes at different schools and has always worked well.

Evaluation

Does it follow the principles I have listed here?

  • Focus on the ‘now’: Yes, it’s topical and has been so for many years. It’s an issue many people have.
  • Take a fresh perspective: I’d say so, because the environmental impact is mentioned in he second video but it’s not the main focus of the lesson, it’s more about which water is better.
  • Localise and Personalise: Yes, the students are asked about what they prefer in their real lives (not hypothetically); they are asked again at the end. They can also include their own opinions in the discussion of advantages and disadvantages of bottled and tab water. Also, as the students this lesson was originally used with were international students who had just arrived in the UK, they had to take the decision whether to use tab water or bottled water.
  • Focus on people: No, the focus is on the two types of water.
  • Positive and Empowering: Yes, on several levels. The first video is obviously very positive about bottled water. The second one, is negative about bottled water, but positive about tab water. Also, after watching the videos, discussing advantages and disadvantages, students are ’empowered’ in the sense that they are now better informed than before and know they have a choice.
  • What’s the language point: language related to water, listening for specific information
  • Make it interactive: Students interact with the videos, the tutor, with each other.
  • Integrated: Yes and no. Each Academic Listening Skills lesson is a stand-alone lesson, but although the topics and listening skills are different in each, they do have to be integrated logically between the previous and the following lesson. For example, they had practised listening and note-taking in the lesson before this, which is a skill they need in this one. They also had learned and practised the language for discussion advantages and disadvantages, stating one’s opinion, agreeing and disagreeing and giving reasons in the Academic Speaking Lesson(s) before this.
  • Integrated-skills: Yes, although the main focus is on practising extended listening and note-taking skills, students also practise seminar discussion (incl. providing evidence for their opinions), critical thinking skills and media literacy (evaluation information and sources critically).
  • Relevant: Yes, both the skills practised and the topic are/were relevant to my students (see above).
  • Go beyond the lesson: Yes, firstly, as stated above, this was a relevant topic and they learned about the advantages and disadvantages of bottled and tab water.
  • Lead to action: Yes, as seen above, this impacted on students’ behaviour/decisions outside class. Many stated at the end of the lesson that they had changed their opinion about which water is better, and said they would try tab water. The environmental impact was not discussed, but their change of behaviour means less plastic waste.
    Another type of action happened when I first taught this. We were lucky to have a student in class who had worked as a chemical analyst or similar at a water plant. After this lesson, he decided to change the topic for his academic presentation (which they all have to deliver at the end of the course). He had found a great topic he was interested in and knowledgeable about, and his class learned more about the safety and high quality of tab water in our location in his presentation.

The lesson

Materials: two online videos

  1. http://www.viewpure.com/LIeR6SoQ84A (viewpure removes the clutter and undesirable elements from YouTube videos)
  2. https://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-bottled-water/

Technology: internet and projector
Low tech solution: learners could use their own devices / the lesson plan could be changed and learners asked to watch the videos in their own time before class, which would allow for more time to be used for the other activities.

Time: 90 minutes, can easily be extended to 2 x 90-minutes session – one for the listening focus, note-taking initial discussions and source evaluation, the next one for speaking skills (extended discussion and feedback or even presentations by groups in stage 6).

Stages

  1. After greeting the students, casually start a conversation about what students are drinking. Sts. usually have sth. to drink on their desks: Who has got water/tea/sth. else? To those who have water (briefly): Is is bottled or tap water?
  2. Say: Our topic today is water. Elicit: What do you know about bottled water? Do you prefer bottled or tap water? Why? Elicit some answers from a few sts. Do a quick class survey and count how many prefer bottled or tab water (this can be done with a polling/survey tool too if available, e.g. survey monkey).
  3. Students work in groups to discuss and make a list of advantages/benefits of bottled water. Elicit ideas from the groups and write them up on the board (or have a confident student do this). Alternatively, if the room setup allows it and there are enough boards, they could write directly on the board. If they are used to working with GoogleDocs, they could also write their ideas there, so that everyone could see everyone else’s ideas displayed.
  4. Students watch the video and listen for advantages, compare them with their list, tick off if they hear one from their list and add new ones they hear. They compare their lists with a neighbour. Elicit any new ones and write up on the board. Do some quick vocab/pronunciation work where necessary.
  5. Repeat stages 3 and 4, but this time students focus on disadvantages of bottled water and watch the second video.
  6. In groups, students discuss and decide which arguments they believe in and what their position is. They discuss which is better, bottled or tab water, providing evidence/reasons from the video (but can also add their own reasons).
  7. Whole class discussion/feedback: Has your opinion about bottled water/tap water changed compared to beginning of lesson? Elicit from some sts. or use the polling/survey tool again and compare whether the result has changed.
  8. Ask: Which information is more reliable? Why? (e.g. source of information, evidence provided, sponsor of video, etc.)
  9. Optional question:What do you think is my position/opinion? Why?
    If I had shown you the videos the other way round, do you think your opinion would have been influenced?
    If yes, what’s the conclusion/lesson to draw for your writing project or presentations (if it is an argumentation)?
  10. Provide students with the links to the videos if they want to watch/listen again. Point out that the Story of bottled water video has got a full transcript with annotations, which is particularly useful for business students.
    (Depending on the course aims, syllabus, flexibility and the needs of the learners, the transcript could be used for follow-up tasks or lesson.)

Note

As environmentalists, we might be tempted to push our students to what we think is right, in this case, this would very likely using bottled water for most of us. However, we have to remember that we want our learners to develop critical thinking skills and also to find their own voice, to think about different angles of an issue or come up with creative and different solutions. There might well be situations where bottled water makes sense. Our learners might also come from places where tab water is not drinkable/healthy and they might not have technology for water purification readily available.

Our role as teachers, as I see it, is not to provide learners with THE solution or THE right behaviour, but to provide them with materials and tasks and create a safe space where they have the opportunity to think through problems, discuss options and come up with their own answers. If we successfully do this, rather than push our on views and solutions on them, they will often surprise us with new insights  and we will come out of a lesson having developed our own thinking on the topic/issue.