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What is innovation? – Science and technology with ESL Students

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Sian Fairley
29 March 2017

What is innovation? – Science and technology with ESL Students


I am a grade 8 ESL teacher at a middle school in Istanbul, Turkey. I am part of a team of six teachers who plan the curriculum.


This is one lesson of a six-week long “theme” on science and technology conducted with grade 8 ESL students at a middle school in Istanbul, Turkey. The school is introducing an International Baccalaureat style middle years curriculum which is based on six different themes, such as this one. At the beginning of the theme the students are introduced to a concept, such as “innovation” in this lesson, which they will explore across the theme. The emphasis is on student collaboration and at the end of each theme they work together using the language and content they have explored to create a project.


Students are introduced to the concept of “innovation” and invited to start thinking about what it means on a general level by considering different inventions, whether they use them and the role they play in their lives.

Success was measured by the level of student interest and interaction in the discussion.


1. Students watch a powerpoint including a short video about the meaning of the word “innovation”. After watching, students suggest words related to the video and to the concept of innovation from what they understand. They can also raise any questions or write down what they would like to find out more about.

Students seemed interested in the video in particular, but there were some issues with the length of the powerpoint. Some teachers felt it took too much time and was a little too in-depth for the first lesson. However, they said they could revisit it further on in the theme.

2. Students are given cards with names of different objects/inventions on them. In groups of three they discussed which they could not live without and why. They then shared their answers with the class.

The level of discussion depended on how the groups were formed i.e. chosen by the teacher or by the students themselves.

3. The teacher writes the students answers on the board. The students are asked if there are any similarities between their answers and if so, why. What makes these objects so important to the students? Would the teacher have answered differently?



This was a successful lesson which got the students interested in the topic and helped them to start thinking about the concept of innovation. In this sense it met the learning objectives for the lesson.


The feedback from the teachers was that the students enjoyed the activities and it stimulated a lot of discussion which they could feed into the following lessons. They enjoyed having both visuals from the powerpoint and physical objects (cards). They suggested that the lesson could continue into the first 10 minutes or so of the next lesson to allow students to continue their discussions.  

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