Every teacher would probably agree that there are classes which are easier to teach and those which are pretty challenging. Also, based on my experience, there’s at least one class each term that you get as a reward, so to speak. This is the type of class you can’t wait to teach, and whatever you prepare for them always works. Moreover, they’re grateful for every extra activity and the more creative and unusual it is the better. And even if you come unprepared (yes, this may happen to teachers), it’s never a disaster because the students will always help you.
I have such a class too. It’s a class I’ve written many posts about. It’s a class which, each and every day, reassures me that my work is worthwhile. They surprise me, they motivate me, they inspire me…
Today, I had a plan to follow with this class. However, I suddenly remembered that a student had wanted to play some YouTube videos about the environment so I had no choice but to abandon my original plan. I didn’t know what exactly the videos were about, but I trusted the student and let him take control.
To cut a long story short, if you ever want to build a lesson around the topic of environment, play the videos called Nature is speaking my student suggested. Personally, I’ve never seen anything more powerful related to the topic. The visual aspect is simply stunning. Languagewise, the videos are suitable across levels since you can switch on the English subtitles. As far as the content is concerned, it will definitely strike a chord. But the best thing about the videos is that they are narrated by movie stars like Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Harrison Ford, Edward Norton, Penelope Cruz, Reese Withersoon, etc. So, for starters, you can ask your students to turn around while listening for the first time and guess whose voice it is.
Anyway, this is what we did today: we watched three of the videos in a row (Julia Roberts as Mother Nature, Harrison Ford as The Oceans and Kevin Spacey as The Rainforests). After that I paired the students up and asked them to make similar speeches. They could choose what they wanted to be, e.g. The Mountains, The Air, etc. Then they presented the speech in front of the class (each was about one minute long).
I was impressed by the way they delivered their speeches. I should stress that the actors sound very dramatic – almost threatening or revengeful – because each video is a kind of warning: If you don’t stop destroying me (nature, oceans, rainforests), you will finally distroy yourselves! The students managed to sound equally dramatic.
Finally, we watched some more videos and voted for the best in the series (Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford won!).
There are also some Behind the scenes videos which I encouraged students to watch at home.
As simple as that!