This is a lesson I developed for my high school second-year students. It’s a 50-minute lesson using a current topic in order to get the students sharing their ideas and opinions.
The topic is, “The Water Crisis,” our shortening water supply.
In my second-year classes, we use the English Communication textbook “Element” from the publisher Keirinkan. The JTE has 2 classes a week to teach the grammar and textbook and once a week I develop a lesson based on the topic of study that gives the students an ability to express their opinions and use English.
Here is the worksheet I developed for the class. I’ll put the lesson plan at the bottom of the post.
First as a warmup, the students are going to learn some English expressions that involve water.
I have about 4 expressions and I give the students multiple different meanings and they have to try and guess the correct one. This activity is just for fun and shouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s just to help students start thinking about water and to maybe develop their vocabulary a little. There are so many expressions used in the Japanese language that I find students and teachers really enjoy learning English expressions.
Then the students are going to brainstorm different ways they use water.
With their partner, they write down on their paper all the different ways they use water every day. Then I have one student from each pair write one of the ideas they came up with on the board. There should be 20 different ways to use water on the board. This takes about 10 minutes.
Next I review the information that they should have already learned in the textbook about the world’s water shortage through a powerpoint presentation.
Halfway through the presentation we reach a slide that asks the students to pick 3 things from their list of 20 ways we use water as the most important. They write down their answer and why it is their answer. I have the students share with a few partners then I choose a few students to share with the whole class. While the students are working in pairs walk around and help students who need it.
Next I introduce Bill Gates (stay with me, it makes sense in a minute) and the Omni-Processor.
The Gates Foundation has made a new machine which takes human sewage and transforms it into clean drinking water, electricity, and ash.
Next I show them a video that explains how the Omni-Processor works.
The video is DIFFICULT. It’s native level English and they speak fast. I tell the students to watch it closely and listen for key words. There are some annotations that make it easier for the students to follow along.
After the video, I introduce the students to Jimmy Fallon (again, this will make sense) and set up the next video clip they are going to watch.
I start the video for the students about halfway through when Jimmy starts choosing his water. I do this because the video at the beginning is a little complicated (the joke about #2 being poop) and there is no way the students could understand. I never want to do a listening that is too difficult at the beginning because I have found that my students will just give up if they don’t think they can understand.
After the video I ask them some comprehension questions like, “Which one was the poop water?” and “How did the water taste?” Almost every student in my classes can answer these questions. They really enjoy watching this since so much of Jimmy Fallon’s humor is physical in this segment. They get the jokes they understand the conversation and it is a great motivation boost for them!
Their final question for the class is, “If Fukui had an Omni Processor machine that you could go get water from for free, would you use it? Why or Why not?”
I give the students maybe 5 minutes to write their idea asking them to have 2 reasons. Then I have them share their idea with multiple partners. In my more advanced classes, I had the students write a short essay for homework about their answer asking for reasons and examples.
I really like this lesson because it gives the students an opportunity to study something interesting and relevant current events. I also love the students faces when they realize they can follow along and understand the two videos even though they are conversations between 2 native speakers of English.
I use this lesson as a way to introduce the topic and key vocabulary about the water shortage and solutions in a fun and accessible way. After this lesson, I usually have a follow-up lesson about whether raising the price of water is a good way to deal with the water crisis or not. That lesson has a lot more time for the students to share their ideas and opinions. If you use this lesson in your class please let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear about it!