Description: This proposal is organized around the theme of deforestation through the use of 3 paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Constable and Seurat and Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and a short motion graphic video by Sasha Milic, a Norwegian designer, animator and illustrator. The thinking routines used are: Step Inside: Perceive-Believe-Care About, Sentence-Phrase-Word and Now-Then-Later.

Level: Intermediate+

Learners: All ages

Theme: Deforestation

Language: Deforestation related vocabulary, 2nd conditional             

Skills: Creative understanding, watching 2 short videos, reading, exploring different perspectives and viewpoints, engagement with and capturing text essence, identifying actions to make a situation more fair                                                                                                                

Materials: Paintings slides, 2 short videos, story transcript

Step 1
Show students the paintings below and ask them what they have in common. Elicit that all three of them have trees.

Step 2
Ask your students: How do you think these famous paintings would be if they didn’t have trees? Have students express their opinions using the 2nd conditional: If these paintings didn’t have trees I think they would be…

Step 3
Tell them that Edinburgh University’s Iain Woodhouse, who maps forests using satellites, photo-shopped the trees out of these famous paintings to show the aesthetic value they have and to draw attention to the threat of global deforestation. Show them the photo-shopped paintings.

Step 4
Work as a whole class and brainstorm your students around ways trees can be useful to people.

Step 5
Write on the board: The Giving Tree. Tell your students that they are going to watch a video based on a book by an English author, Shel Silverstein with this title. Ask them what they think the book is about. Show the video.

Step 6
Ask your students: how did the story make you feel?

Step 7
Show students the slide share presentation below and ask individual students to read the text in the slides.

Ask students to step inside the narrative and imagine they are the tree or the boy. From their chosen point of view they should first write down and then speak about what they might perceive-believe-care about. Go around the class and help with vocabulary if needed. Allow 15 minutes and get feedback. As individual students speak from their perspective, the rest of the class could guess which perspective they are speaking from. Keep a visible record of students’ different perspectives and viewpoints. You can read here how my students responded to this routine.

Step 8
Hand out the video transcript and ask them to read the story again. While reading ask them to choose: a) a sentence that was meaningful to them, that they feel captures a big idea of the text b) a phrase that moved or engaged them and c) a word that captured their attention or struck them as powerful. Allow 15 minutes and get feedback. Here is an account of working on this routine in class.

Step 9
Tell students that they are going to watch a short motion graphic video which is an effort to improve environmental awareness about deforestation in Indonesia, one of the countries with the highest rate of deforestation, caused by paper industry. Show the video.

The Forest from Sasha Milic on Vimeo.

Step 10
Ask them to write down the effects of deforestation (reduced biodiversity/wildlife deprived of habitat, release of greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, climate change).

Step 11
Write on the board: Deforestation-let’s make it fair: Now-Then-Later. Ask students to brainstorm ideas for things they might do to “make it fair”. Sort the list into actions that relate to making the situation fair in the past, now, or for the future. As students talk, record their ideas on the board or on chart paper.

(possible ideas: stricter laws for companies, recycle, buy products from recycled materials, reuse, plant trees)

Step 12
Ask students to choose one idea from the list they feel is most important and expand on it verbally, in writing or explore it creatively (drawings/collages/poems).

I hope you find this proposal worth experimenting with.

2 thoughts on “Deforestation”

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