Journey to Freedom – Ethics or English as a foreign language lesson

I have recently  discovered National Geographic site for teachers . This is absolutely  a mine of great ideas.

I also decided to take part in a course for teachers.

It wasn’t easy – I had to work hard for two months. Analise some lessons which I did with my students before. Create a new lesson, and … it was something  completely new and difficult for me – make a film.

I could see lessons of other participants, my tutor gave me a lot of tips and I must admit I have learnt a lot!

This is my lesson of English as a foreign language. Thanks to which I became a Certified National Geographic Educator


Subject: Journey to Freedom

Time Needed – Preparation: 1 hour

Time Needed – Execution: 3-4 hours



By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:


  • Say some facts about abolition and slavery in the USA
  • Write a formal letter
  • Write an informal letter
  • Write short memories
  • Use II and III conditional and “wish” in context
  • Say a lot about immigration and emigration caused by problems in the world
  • Find places on Google Maps and maps from map-kit
  • Make a print-screen
  • Use
  • Use


Materials and Preparation Needed:

What materials will need to be gathered or prepared for this lesson? Note what should be prepared in advance.




How does the lesson work, step by step? Note actions taken by educators and learners in enough detail that another educator could replicate this lesson.


In step one are the lessons which prepare a context of the lessons about contemporary times. Thanks to the game students for a moment feel like a person who wants to be free. It is important so I decided to write about it here too.


  1. Journey to Freedom – step one ( 1-1,5 hour)
    1. Students are informed that they will work on a long project about freedom and they will use for it a padlet ( )
    2. Students are divided to small groups (3-4 people) – for this you can use postcards cut into 3-4 pieces students take one piece and look for the rest people to match the pieces into a postcard
    3. Students got a QR code to their padlet. On the padlet there is a link to a game from National Geographic; they are asked to write their names on padlet
    4. They are informed that they have several tasks to do which are connected with the game
      1. They have to escape from the farm (in the game)
      2. They have to write 4 sentences which are thought by the escaping slave ( in second conditional, in third conditional, in wish in the past and in wish in the present ( if there is need – we review this grammar)
  • They have to write a letter about a new life of the “free slave” to a friend who stayed on the farm in Maryland
  • They have to write a formal letter to the President about slavery
  • The projector is turned on so students can observe their work. Teacher monitors what is going on, solves problems, accepts writings on padlet
  • At the end of the lesson teacher asks what the students has learnt so far – the lesson is summed up by this discussion



  1. Journey to Freedom – step two. (2 hours)
    1. Students are asked to think what reasons people have to escape from their countries nowadays. We discuss the problem for a while. We watch a film “What They Took With Them”. We discuss the film.
    2. Students search on the Internet what other problems people face, if they don’t say about environmental problems, I ask them for it – they are supposed to check where and what problems people suffer (like for example droughts) and what it means for the people – like lack of water means that farmers don’t have harvest, so there is lack of jobs and hunger. People have to go far distances for water etc. We can for example set a map of Africa and find some places with environmental disasters or other problems. We discuss all what they have learnt
    3. Students choose one country about which they want to talk and write. They have to write about:
  • Problems
  • About their imaginary escape from that country
  • Write 3 short memories from their diary
  • Make a print screen from the google maps from the place they are writing
  • Students will talk with their parents about Polish emigration and attitude towards immigrants and write short dialog or post (this is their homework).
  • They record short evaluation of the project.


We sum up the whole project – we discuss what they have learnt, we talk about their feelings etc.



What new vocabulary will students need to learn to complete this lesson?


Immigration, emigration, environment, pollution, drought, environmental problems, borders, supplies, gain, refugee, citizen, society


Scales and Perspectives, Human and Natural World Connections:

How does this lesson allow students to examine the world from different scales and perspectives? How are themes of the human and natural world, and their intersections, covered in this lesson?


Students learn about slavery in the past, fight for better life and underground organization which helped slaves.

They learn that nowadays people face political and environmental problems, and they decide to emigrate which sometimes is as dangerous and desperate as during the times from the game “Journey to Freedom. The Underground Railroad”. They learn that immigration is a difficult problem for people who emigrate and people who take in refugees. They learnt that emigration is caused by really difficult situations like wars but also connected with changing environment like severe draughts.

They become aware that even Polish people emigrated and still emigrate to find better life. They become aware that some nations face really huge problems like wars, terror or ecological disasters e.g. draughts and poverty and they need help.


 Learning Framework Connections:

How does this lesson connect with one or more of the attitudes, skills, and knowledge areas of the Learning Framework?



Responsibility: Students are studying problems and become more aware of global problems. They understand the reasons of emigration and become more sympathetic towards the refugees.

Curious and adventurous: curious about how the world works, seeking out new and challenging experiences throughout their lives.



Collaboration: Students listen to other group members’ ideas or opinions before doing consecutive tasks. They divide the tasks among members of the group. They learn responsibility for the team work. students feel comfortable with each other, they ask questions, give roles and cooperate.

Communication: Students communicate experiences and ideas effectively through language and media; they use variety of tools during the lessons. They have literacy skills with which they interpret and create new understanding from spoken language, writing, and a wide variety of visual and audio media.



Human Journey: Students recognize human problems connected with environment and politics. They can show on the map some places with the problems. They learn about global responsibility and humanitarian aid.



How will student learning be assessed for this lesson?

Students will be assessed in steps:

  • First step/lesson – team work and
    • letters and grammar in context.
    • their work during the process.
  • Second step/lesson – team work and:
    • writing of short memories from the diary
    • writing about the problem of the country and finding the maps / photos on Google maps
    • homework
    • speech ( recorded) and discussion during the lesson



Opportunities for Modifications and Extensions:

Suggest ways in which the lesson might be modified or extended for specific student audiences, different abilities, deeper learning, etc.


This lesson can be used on Ethics lessons – in the native language, which I want to do at my school.

In my lessons students were free to choose a country they wanted to write about but it is possible that we can only talk about one country or continent. We can also talk about one reason of problems – for example connected with the environment. If we narrow our lesson to one country it will give us opportunity to analyse e.g. environmental problems more precisely.

Lesson doesn’t have to be prepared on common padlet. Students can have their group padlet, use flipgrid or other tools. I used common padlet because it was the first such a project I did with them and I wanted them to observe progress of the project which they found really motivating and fun.




What outside materials did you use to support this lesson? Please include links.



Stwórz darmową stronę albo bloga na Autor motywu: Anders Noren.

Up ↑