The Environment and Slow Cities

by JoiseyshowaaA discussion lesson plan on the topic of the environment which ended up bringing in the Slow City movement as well.


Warm Up

Start out with the Odd Man Out Environmental Vocabulary game from Ted Power (The site has some great questions and vocab activities by theme as well as short readings and listenings). A simple idea for teaching and reviewing vocab, where students get a list of words and have to decide which word is not like the others. Multiple answers are possible but as kids think about it, they have to deeply think about the meanings of these words. Opening a discussion lesson with a little vocab work and controlled practice does help kids to warm up and also gives even the shyer students a chance to speak.

Discussion on the Environment

Discuss the following questions as a class, or have students discuss them in small groups. Obviously you can pick and choose the order of these questions or which ones you use. Generally, in a discussion lesson, I try to guide them but not keep too much control over the topics and sometimes students anticipate later questions. So I step in with a new question only when the conversation dies down. I do try to order questions by topic and also go from simpler, more controlled answers to freer and more profound or controversial questions.

  • Is it important to protect the environment?
  • Why?
  • What can we do as individuals to protect the environment?
  • What can the government do?
  • What can international organizations do?
  • Why do we destroy the environment?
  • Is protecting the environment harmful to business and the economy?
  • Do you think we can ever destroy the Earth?
  • Do you believe in global warming?
  • Would you give up cars, computers, mass-produced goods, etc… if it meant saving the environment?

Reading/Discussion on Cittaslow

Now looked at the Cittaslow (Slow City) movement. Ask if students have heard of it and what they know. If they don’t know anything about it, explain that it is a relatively new movement that started in Italy. Cities can become slow cities if they promote a lifestyle that is healthy, environmentally friendly and preserves traditions and relaxation over too much progress and a stressful way of life.

Now hand out the Cittaslow reading which includes an excerpt from the Charter and also what one city has done to become a slow city as well as its future plans.

Go over any vocabulary or comprehension issues and discuss the Charter. What do they think of this movement? What is the point? Is it a good idea or not? Would they like to live in a slow city? Do they think their city or town could be a slow city?

Now look at the section on Perth. Ask them which idea they liked best, which they liked worst, which they think would be best for their city, and which could never work here.

To finish up, or as homework have them think of other project ideas that could make their city a better place to live along the principles of Cittaslow. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each project.

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