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.
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.
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.
- 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)
- 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).
Lesson 1 – Introduction and preparation
- 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.
- 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.
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.