The lesson involves a jigsaw activity where two groups of students watch two different video clips and then exchange information. The class can be divided into two groups (“expert groups”) and sent to different rooms or students can watch the videos individually on computers (with headphones). If this is not feasible, students can watch the clips at home.
Video 1 - Oresund bridge can be found here: (start video at 0.44 - 7.50)
Video 2 - Rio Antirrio Bridge can be found here: (watch video from the start until 5.37)
To lead in to the activity, brainstorm what famous bridges students know (e.g. The Tower Bridge in London, The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco).
Give out the handout and draw students’ attention to different kinds of bridges (Megabridges Worksheet: Activity 1). You may have to clarify the difference between suspension and cable-stayed bridges. A suspension bridge, which has been around since ancient times, has the roadway suspended from two cables (or chains) hanging between the towers (e.g. The Golden Gate Bridge) A cable-stayed bridge is a more modern adaptation of a suspension bridge where cables run directly from a tower to the roadway. Follow this link http://tinyurl.com/7usmra6 to see an image that illustrates the difference.
Divide the class into two groups. Tell them that each group will watch a different video clip. They have to take notes as they watch because the will have to tell their partners what they have heard/seen.
Students watch the video and take notes (Megabridges Worksheet: Activity 2). Tell them to compare their notes before watching the video a second time. Allow students to watch it more times if necessary.
After both groups have finished watching, regroup students so that they work in mixed pairs. To do this, I normally give each student a card with a letter on it (A, B, C…) and then tell them to find somebody with the same letter from the other group. This way you can control who works with whom in mixed pairs.
For heterogeneous classes, it’s preferable to have mixed ability students grouped together while gathering information so that they can help each other and same ability students paired together during the speaking activity.
Get feedback. See the answer sheet.
As a follow up, discuss if there are any big bridges in the country/ies your students come from, their economic importance and interesting features.
Another follow-up activity which can be set as homework is to find out more about Oresund and Rio Antirrio bridges. They can either look up information on the Internet or search for longer videos about the two bridges. See Megabridges Worksheet – Extended which contains an additional table (Further info).
While discussing what bridge designs were rejected, there is an opportunity to practise would have been pattern used to talk about things that could have happened in the past, i.e. unreal past, which is often taught as part of the third conditional structure.
A suspension bridge would have been much more expensive.
They chose a cable-stayed bridge because a beam bridge would have been problematic.
An arch bridge, which would have been the biggest ever built, wasn’t suitable.
Even if your students have not studied the third conditional it might be useful to point out how we use would have been to talk about things that did not happen.