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Lessons Learned

Posted on June 11, 2019 by kierandonaghy




This ELT lesson plan is designed around a short video titled Lesson Learned by StoryCorps.
In the lesson students watch two short videos, speculate, speak and read about life lessons.

 

The School for Training is a small specialist teacher training institute in Barcelona, providing innovative courses of the highest quality for teachers from around the world. The school was founded and is run by Kieran Donaghy who has extensive experience of designing and delivering courses for teachers. 

Find out more about the courses and how to enrol here.

 

 

Language level: Intermediate (B1) – Upper Intermediate (B2)
Learner type: Teens and adults
Time: 90 minutes
Activity: Watching two short videos, speaking and reading
Topic: Education, racism and life lessons
Language: Vocabulary related to school
Materials: Two short videos and an online article
Downloadable materials: lessons_learned_instructions

Step 1
Read out this text to your students:
“Imagine you are a 14-year-old black boy called William Weaver. You live in Knoxville, Tennessee in the USA in 1964. You have always gone to an all-black school because the law in your state doesn’t allow black students to study with white students. However, there has been a recent change in the law which allows black and white students to study together. You are leaving your all-black junior high school to go to a previously all-white high school.”

Step 2
Put your students in pairs and ask them to discuss these questions:
1. How was your first day at school?
2. How do the principal and teachers at your new school treat you?

Step 3
Hold a plenary discussion based on the questions from Step 2.

Step 4
Tell your students they are going to watch the first part of a video about William Weaver, a boy who changed from an all-black junior high school to a previously all-white high school in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1964. As they watch they should answer these questions:
1. What was William’s first day at school like?
2. How did the principal and teachers at the new school treat William?
Play from 0:00 to 00:48

 

 

Step 5
Check answers to the questions in to Step 4.
1. His first day was very bad. He was suspended after 30 minutes.
2. The principal and teachers discriminated against him and told him he didn’t belong.

Step 6
Tell your students they are going to watch the first part of the video again. As they watch they answer these questions:
1. How many other black students went to the previously all-white school?
2. Why was William suspended on his first day at school?
3. What does the ‘N-word’ mean?
4. What happened when William had a test?
5. Why was William surprised by his first-grade card?
6. What did William start to think about himself?

Step 7
Check answers to the questions in Step 7.
1. Over a dozen.
2. Because he told the principal his name was William not bill.
3. The ‘N-word’ means ‘nigger’, a deeply offensive word used by racists to describe an Afro-American person.
4. The teachers would stand over him and snatch the paper from him.
5. He got all Fs (fails) despite the fact that he had been a good student at his junior high school.
6. He started to think that maybe he didn’t fit in and was dumb.

Step 8
Put your students in small groups and ask them to discuss these questions:
1. How would you feel if you were in William’s situation?
2. What would you do if you were in William’s situation?

Step 9
Tell your students that Mr. Hill, a teacher from William’s old school, tried to help him. They are going to watch the second part of the video. As they watch they answer this question:
What did Mr. Hill do to help William.
Show video from 0:40 to 1:32.

Step 10
Check their answers to the question in Step 9.
Mr Hill went to William’s house and told him he would give him extra classes in the afternoon and on Saturday morning. Mr. Hill and other teachers tutored William.

Step 11
Students watch the second part of the video again and answer these questions:
1. What subject did Mr. Hill teach?
2. What did William think the teachers at the new school were trying to do to him?
3. How did the tutoring at William’s old school help him?

Step 12
Check answers to the questions in Step 11.
1. Science
2. William thought they were trying to make him leave the school.
3. He started getting grades and became more self-confident.

Step 13
Tell your students they are going to watch the third part of the video and answer these questions:
1. What did William want to prove to the teachers at his new school?
2. How did William feel he was treated by teachers at his new school?
Show from 01:33 to 01:51.

Step 14
Check answers to the questions in Step 13.
1. He wanted to prove that the teachers were wrong about him.
2. William felt that whatever he did academically or athletically he was never recognized by his teachers.

Step 15
In small groups ask students to discuss these questions:
What do you think William did after high school?
Did he go university? If so, what did he study?
Did he start working? If so, what job did he do?

Step 16
Hold a plenary discussion based on the questions in Step 15.

Step 17
Tell students to watch the final part of the video and check their answers to the questions in Step 16.
Show video from 01:51 to 02:51.

Step 18
Check answers to the question in Step 17.
Willian went to university but we don’t know what he studied.

Step 19
Students watch the final part of the video again and answer these questions:
1. What happened during William’s final year?
2. What happened 37 years after William left high school?
3. What does William say Mr. Hill did for him?

Step 20
Check answers to the questions in Step 19.
1. William got a letter telling him he’d been awarded a scholarship to Howard University.
2. He met Mr. Hill at the funeral of his older brother and Mr. Hill told him he had filled and sent in the scholarship application.
3. William say Mr. Hill saved his life.

Step 21
Show the whole video.

Step 22
In small groups, students discuss these questions:
1. How would you describe William?
2. What lesson did William learn from this experience?

Step 23
Hold a plenary discussion based on the questions in Step 22.
Possible answers:
1. William is brave, persistent, hardworking, intelligent, wise and humble.
2. William learned that there are always people helping you in life whether you realise it or not.

Step 24
Tell your students they are going to watch another video in which William describes how he was helped by his father while he was at high school. They answer these questions:
1. What would William’s father do and say when William went to him with a problem?
2. How did William always feel when he saw his father?
3. How did William’s father help him when he was having problems understanding algebra?
4. What would being a success be for William?
Show from 00:00 to 01:47. Play twice.

 

 

Step 25
Check answers to the questions in Step 24.
1. He would listen and say ‘Well, what do you want to do?’
2. He felt safe.
3. He stayed up, read the algebra book, woke William up at 4 o’clock and taught him algebra.
4. William feels he would be a success if he was half the man his father was and if his children loved him half as much as he loved his father.

Step 26
In pairs, students discuss this question:
What do you think William’s career was?

Step 27
Show the video from 01:47 to 01:55. Students check their answers.
William was a surgeon.

Step 28
Put students into pairs. They discuss these questions:
1. Who has helped you most in your life?
2. What have these people done for you?
3. What lessons have you learned from these people?

Step 29
Hold a plenary discussion based on the questions in Step 28.

Homework
Tell your students that William Weaver recently died. Give them this link to his obituary and ask them to read it for homework. In the following class they should discuss William and his life.

 

The School for Training is a small specialist teacher training institute in Barcelona, providing innovative courses of the highest quality for teachers from around the world. The school was founded and is run by Kieran Donaghy who has extensive experience of designing and delivering courses for teachers. 

Find out more about the courses and how to enrol here.

 

 

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I hope you enjoy this ESL lesson.

6 thoughts on “Lessons Learned

    • Hi Myrtis,
      The lesson has been viewed thousands of times already and nobody else has said they can’t see the video so the problem must be at your end. Here’s a link to the video https://bit.ly/2F08yCs. I hope you can watch it there.
      Cheers,
      Kieran

  1. It’s a very good lesson with a powerful message. I do like it and say Thanks to you!!!