As a high school English teacher, you can use this lesson plan to help you in teaching reading and analysis skills as part of English Language Teaching (ELT). The lesson plan involves training students in skills such as skimming and close reading, and comprehension based on the reading.
The article used for this study is Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen’s, ‘Geology of Mankind’, that describes the concept of the ‘Anthropocene’.
Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Functional English or English Language Teaching (ELT).
Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:
- learn to skim and close read a non-fiction text
- learn to answer questions that range in difficulty; to test basic comprehension, vocabulary in context, and inference
- understand the meaning and significance of the term ‘Anthropocene’
Anthropocene is a new term, proposed in 2000 by Paul Crutzen. The Anthropocene defines Earth’s most recent geologic time period (Anthropocene) as being human-influenced, or anthropogenic, based on overwhelming global evidence that atmospheric, geologic, hydrologic, biospheric and other earth system processes are now altered by humans.
About Lesson Plan
|Grade Level||High school, Undergraduate|
|Discipline||Humanities, English Literature|
|Topic(s) in Discipline||Reading Comprehension, Scanning
Skimming, Close Reading, SQ3R Method
Vocabulary, Inference, Summarizing
|Climate Topic||Climate and the Anthroposphere
Climate and the Biosphere
|A text to introduce and explain the reading techniques of skimming and close reading.|
(30 – 40 min)
|A text to examine using the reading techniques of skimming and close reading. The text used is Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen’s article, ‘Geology of Mankind’, that describes the concept of the ‘Anthropocene’.|
|A multiple-choice questionnaire to test the students’ understanding of the above text followed by an analysis of answers through peer review.|
Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.
Step 1: Introduction to reading techniques
1. Use the text, ’Reading Strategies: Skimming vs Close Reading’, by GradProSkills, Concordia University, Montreal, to introduce to your students the techniques of skimming and close-reading.
2. Explain to your students the difference between ‘scanning’ and ‘skimming’.
3. Discuss the points to consider for skimming articles of diverse types such as scientific and engineering journal papers, and essays in humanities.
4. Explain how and when the technique of close-reading is employed.
5. Discuss the SQ3R (survey, question, read, recite, review) method of close reading for improving reading comprehension.
Step 2: Apply the understanding of reading techniques to study the chosen text
Use the text, ‘Geology of Mankind’ by Paul Crutzen, to employ the two main reading strategies discussed before.
A) Skimming the article (6-8 min):
- First, remind the students of the technique of skimming where the reader rapidly runs their eye throughout the passage without looking for any specific information.
- Explain that the aim of skimming is to gather the basic idea of what the text might be dealing with, and some key words that may pop out.
- Then, hand out copies of ‘Geology of Mankind’, to the class. Ask them not to look at it until the entire class has a copy each. Instruct your students to now skim the article. Use a stop watch and give the students 90-120 seconds to skim Crutzen’s article. Keeping the time limited is important so that students are only able to skim and not close read.
- Once the time is up, ask the students to mention (without looking at the text) whatever they may have gathered from this initial reading.
- Ask them for key words that they may have noticed. Write these words on the blackboard/whiteboard. They will likely include “Anthropocene”, “telluric”, “greenhouse gases”, “epoch”, “anthropogenic”, “chlorofluorocarbons”, “millennia”, “ozone”, and “catastrophe”. Explain the meanings of these words to them.
At this point, the idea is not to indicate to them if they have understood the article and its argument correctly; it is simply to collate the bare minimum information they have gathered and impressions regarding the text’s content and the tone that they may have gathered. The cumulative of the students’ answers attained through skimming and the vocabulary discussed will form a backbone for the following step of close reading.
B) Close reading and discussion (15-20 min):
- Now, ask the students to return to the article and begin to carefully read each line.
- Instruct them to note their ideas about the main argument of the article and the proof in text for the same.
- Ask them to underline/highlight the main points in the text.
- Give them about 10 minutes to read.
- Once the reading is done, direct a discussion around the following broad points (10 min):
- a) What is the writer’s main argument?
- b) What examples of the argument are found in the text?
- c) What is the chronology of the Anthropocene according to the author?
Step 3: Classroom Activity
- Use copies of the following questionnaire to test the students’ understanding of the text. The questions are aimed at the details in the article and to test their close reading skills. They may refer to the text to locate the relevant parts to find the answers. Give about 5 minutes for this exercise.
- The Student Questionnaire can be found here.
- Ask them to read their answers aloud in class and through peer review, correct those that they got wrong.
- The key to the student questionnaire, for your reference: 1 c, 2 a, 3 d, 4 b, 5 d, 6 b, 7 c, 8 d, 9 a, 10 a