I used to teach Advanced level teens using the Real Life book and, I must say, that both me and the students hated this book. There was a lesson devoted to the eccentric inventor Yoshiro Nakamatsu, who is one of the world’s most prolific inventors and I decided that I couldn’t let the book give them a bad impression of the man so I made things a bit differently.
Here’s what I did and what you may want to do with your class:
1) Ask your students to go to the board and write as many inventors as they can remember in 2 minutes. You can have them compete against each other in groups.
2) Ask your students to take out their smartphones and install an app called Kahoot. Then, let them try this quiz.
3) After the quiz, ask the students what all these inventions have in common. (By now, they would’ve figured out that all these inventions were made in Japan). Tell them that they were made by the same person and that the students are going to watch a video about him.
4) Students watch The Invention of Dr. Nakamats and answer two questions: How many patented inventions does Dr. Nakamats have?
How does he improve his performance?
5) Give students True/False statements and after they’ve tried to do them, watch the video again to check their answers.
6) Have the students discuss the questions below in pairs and get feedback when they’re done.
7) Ask the students if watching the trailer made them want to see the documentary itself. Then, ask your students “If I asked you to describe his personality, what would you say and what kind of adjectives can you use to describe him?”
8) Give students the gap-fill exercise, but tell them to forget about the gaps and just read the sentences finding at least 1 fact which wasn’t mentioned about Dr. Nakamats in the video.
9) Print out cards with the vocabulary from the gap-fill and give it to the students, students take one card and explain their understanding of the words to their partner. Elicit their ideas before clarifying the adjectives.
10) Students fill in the gaps using the proper adjectives.
11) Write down this quote by Seneca “There is no great genius without some touch of madness“. Ask students if they agree with this quote and why. Ask the students which other inventors were known to be eccentric. You can have a discussion why there may be a relationship between unusual behaviour and creativity.
12) Tell your students, that many of the inventions that Dr. NakaMats has invented are called Chindogu (Weird tools) in Japan because they are everyday objects which are, in fact, useless. You can tell your students that the selfie stick was considered as a Chindogu and featured in a book in 1995 but has now become more popular and useful than it was in the past.
13) Nominate two students to be “sponsors”. The rest of the class should work in 2-3 groups to be the “inventors”. The “inventors” must create their own Chindogu and think of a pitch for the “sponsors”. Give the “sponsors” the Sponsor’s handout. The “sponsors” will make notes of the inventions they see and each “sponsor” must ask the “inventors” at least 1 question. Once all the “inventors” have finished speaking, the “sponsors” will choose which team they will sponsor and why.