Monday, 14 May 2012

CLIL lesson plan: solve the problem

This is another lesson plan I've created for the Transatlantic Educators Dialogue. I've prepared it for History and Economics, but as usual it's flexible and easy to customize in order to suit different subjects. I’ve worked on two basic structures, the first suggested by Dr. Diana Hicks during one of her CLIL courses for teachers, and the second by the leaders of the eTwinning Learning Event “eTwinning and the Creative Classroom”. I added my personal touch and... here it is!

Of course, every single time you use this lesson plan it has to be modified a bit according to the students you're working with, their level of FL and the topic you're willing to address.

And that’s the best part of being teachers: you never have the same lesson twice!

Where: computer room

How: students working in group of 4 ( 1 pc / group)

Materials: 1 pc/ group + 1 interactive board (or simply 1 projector, to show the groups’ works at the end of the lesson)

Time: 1 hour for the preparation + 1 hour to share the different solutions (but it depends on the number of groups)

Languages: since History and Economics are quite tough subjects (also as far as the vocabulary is concerned), I let them free to discuss in any language, as long as they produced a shared solution in English. I suggested they produced a list of simple sentences, beginning with "We could...".You may change this point, depending on the subject you choose and its level of difficulty.

Goal: generate as many creative solutions as possible - understand cause/effect relationships.

The problem:

You live in a wealthy industrial city. However, in the last few years pollution has become major issue for the population (health problems, environmental destruction, etc.).
Your teams are the special committees of experts chosen by the Mayor to solve the problem.

You have to keep in mind the city key features:
- two big wood factories, very polluting but employing the majority of the citizens
- heavy car traffic
- poor quality of the air
- expanding population (high need of new houses)
- neighbouring woods

The Mayor has a good city budget to invest on your ideas (money at the moment is not the main problem) but remember all decisions you take will have consequences (i.e. if you close the two factories you’ll stop pollution but you’ll ruin the city economy! So, look for sustainable solutions).

The steps:

1: study carefully the problem, concentrating on the interaction among the different features

2: each team member produces at least one idea

3: the teams discuss the different ideas

4: each team produces a shared solution

5: the teams present their plan of action to the Mayor (the teacher!) – discussion among teams

The Tools:

I usually encourage the use of mapping tools, such as

free mind


3D Topicscape


But a simple ptt could do as well. If the students are working on these activity in more than one session, I invite them to create Google docs in order to share ideas.

Now you just have to try this one as well and let me know! And if you'd like to know more about TED, or join in a future session, you may want to have look at this interesting article. It's definitely an journey worth taking!


  1. Dear Laura,
    I like this lesson plan. The topic is very actually. Environment and economy, we find a similar problem in the real life often.
    I remember the difficult and sad situation in Hungary at about one year ago because of a catastrophy, people had change their life, and they lost their houses. The air pollution is a serious problem there.
    So, it would be important to find a solution together for a better future, and feel: people are responsible for environment, and there are consequences of our decisions.

    I like a lot, pupils can share their ideas for saving environment and be responsible for others at the same time, and I am sure, they enjoy the lesson as well.

  2. Nice lesson plan, that can be useful for other topics as well. I think it would work fine with Science. I'll have a try, thank you Laura for sharing.

  3. Good lesson plan. Just like Monika, I immediately thought about the many natural disasters we had to face recenly all around Europe. It is important to make our pupils involved in the future of their planet. And if they learn English while doing it, that's just great!

  4. Very nice useful plan, suitable with different sujects. Thank you for sharing, Laura!

  5. thank you Norina, I'm happy you liked it!