A Designer Lessons ESL lesson plan by George Chilton

This lesson is based on a Nike viral video campaign. I don’t intend to start advertising big name brands on the blog – but if you do feel like paying me Nike, please feel free to contact me and I’ll give you my bank details.

Lesson: Make it Count!

Level:  Intermediate + / Trinity GESE Grade 7 and up (B2+)

Age group: later teens

Topic: Travelling, philosophy

Skills focus: discussion / conversation / presentation

Time: 60-90m

Prepare the board with a table of three columns, or – if you have a little less time and a little less board space, give them a printed copy. I’ve put the original answers in brackets,  just make sure not to write these in until you correct the students answers later on. The students will put their answer in Column B and the original endings in Column C.

Complete it as below:

Quote (a) Your idea (b) Original (c)
Helen Keller:Life is either daring adventure or… (nothing)Hunter S. Thompson:

Buy the Ticket…(take the ride)

Mae West:

You only live once, but…(if you do it right once is enough)

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Above all, try…(something)

Albert Einstein:

I never worry about the future, (it comes soon enough)

Giacomo Casanova:

One who makes no mistakes, makes…(nothing at all)

Eleanor Roosevelt:

Do one thing every day, (that scares you)

Abraham Lincoln:

In the end it’s not the years in your life that counts, it’s…(the life in your years)

Marilyn Monroe:

If I’d followed all the rules, (I’d never have gotten anywhere)


Action expresses… (Priorities)

Stage One – Warmer

Ask your students what they think “make it count” means. If they’re not sure help them with your own definition, or ask them to check in a dictionary: “to succeed in an attempt” or “to do something  in the best way possible”.

Or use this definition: http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/count#and-counting

Then ask:

If you could skip school/college/uni/work for a day – how would you make it count?

Get the students to share their ideas with the rest of the class. Ask them to be original!

Stage Two

Ask your students to look at the quotes – go over any difficult vocabulary with them.

Next, give them 20 minutes or so to complete the sentences in groups of 3 or 4. Monitor and guide them if they don’t understand something. Stop the whole class if you feel you need to clarify something important – or you might find you’re answering the same questions repeatedly.

After they’ve finished get feedback from the group and complete some of the quotes with their answers.

Ask the students to explain their ideas to the class and see where the discussion goes. Take notes of errors and use them to give relevant corrections afterwards.

Grammar Focus

Depending on the level of your group, you may wish to pre-teach and/or concept check the structure of the first and  third conditionals for the Mae West (1st) and Marilyn Monroe (3rd) quotes.

First conditional

If + subject + present simple / subject + will + infinitive

Third conditional

If + subject + past perfect / subject  + would have  + infinitive

Stage Three

Play the video– ask them to write down the quotes in the third column and compare their answer ideas with the original quote.

Play the video again so they can finish any answers they may have missed and then ask them to discuss the following questions:

  1. What do they think the original quote means?
  2. Can they apply the idea to their own experience?
  3. Which is their favourite (original) quote? Why?
  4. Do they disagree with any of the quotes?
  5. Which version of the quote do they prefer and why?

Follow up with some extra questions if you want to further the discussion.

  1. What was the video advertising?
  2. Was it an effective advert in their opinions?
  3. How long did the two friends travel for?
  4. Which countries did they visit?

Stage Four – Round the world competition!

Tell your students they have to plan a round the world trip of 10 days. Ask them to prepare a plan and itinerary in small groups. They must agree on where they want to go, what they want to do and any special activities they want to try.

They must prepare this in the form of a presentation. Tell them that the group with the most exciting plan will win an unlimited amount of money to do it.  Make sure you are crossing your fingers when you tell them, and please make sure you don’t actually sign any cheques.

Monitor and help your students as they prepare their presentations. Factor in practice time, and make sure the groups know that every student must speak. Limit the time as you see fit, this will obviously depend on the number of students you have and the size of the groups.

Thanks to George Couros for putting me on the the video by sharing it on his blog.

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Designer Lessons by George Chilton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.