In today’s world, innovation is king.
People everywhere are continually making things better, faster, smaller and easier whether their products are computers or refrigerators. King Gillette was one such person whose idea to make a disposable razor blade changed the industry. Following in his footsteps, challenge your students to invent something that will make everyday better with this step by step process that makes use of their English skills with every activity.
Try These Language Activities with Your Class
Things We Use
Start the process by having your students make a list of everything they use on a daily basis. This will be an activity that works better in groups since your students will be able to sound ideas off one another as well as spark each other’s memories. Starting with the blanket that goes on their beds in morning and working their way to the slippers they kick off their feet at night, have these groups list every item they use in a day.
Gillette made a list like this as well, and then alphabetized it, using it later to identify the everyday item that he would improve. Challenge your students to alphabetize the list of items that they made. If your students have not had a lot of practice with alphabetizing, review with them how to do it and then have students work independently to arrange the list their groups compiled. Once everyone is done, have students regroup to check and see if their items are in the same order. If there is any discrepancy with the alphabatizing, review the lists and give students the correct answer.
Choose & Improve
Now that each person has a list of what people use every day, challenge each person to choose one item she would like to improve. This way, rather than inventing something completely new, she can use an item that is already popular and useful as a starting point and think of a modification that will make daily life better. Encourage your students to make some notes of their ideas. You can also encourage students to write a stream of consciousness to help them formulate their ideas and then choose the best idea to develop further.
Bringing the groups back together, give each person a chance to share her idea with the group. She should say what item she will improve, why she wants to improve it and how she will improve it. Group members should feel free to ask questions for clarification.
Write a Plan
Next, each student will write a manufacturing plan. Ask each student to pretend that he runs a manufacturing plant for the item that he has chosen to improve. He should write a letter to his factory supervisor explaining the changes he wants to make to the product. He should include his reasons for the change as well as a plan for how to make the improvements which may be anything from changing the material it is made from to changing the design or function of an item.
Think of a Slogan
Now that each student has her product, she should write a slogan to promote that product. Make sure your students understand that a slogan is a short phrase which is associated with a product. To get them thinking creatively, work as a class to brainstorm as many slogans as you can think of. You might want to include Nike’s “Just do it” and Mountain Due’s “Do the due” in your lists. With these and other examples for inspiration, have each person write a slogan for her product.
Design an Ad for Your Product
The next step is to design an advertisement for the product. Each person should design a magazine ad for his or her product making sure to include the slogan on the page. You can provide magazines for your students to use as inspiration. Some may want to include a lot of text, explaining the benefits of the item. Others may prefer to let the product’s image be more prominent. You may even want your students to transfer their designs to poster board and display the ads around your classroom.
Bring the original groups back together to discuss the products once more. Have each group imagine that they are the top leaders of the manufacturing company. This time, each person should share about his product again, but the group must choose only one of these products to manufacture. After each person has made his case, the group should discuss the advantages and disadvantages to each product and then choose one for manufacturing.
With the product chosen, now it is time to advertise. Each group should work together to write a commercial for the new product, and they will perform it in front of the class. Each person should have a part in the commercial, and groups should be as creative as they dare!
Develop a Product Analysis
Finally, each group should work together to develop a product analysis. In this analysis, they should project how the product will change the market and how the general population will react to the product. You can also ask that they project profits once the item is ready to sell.
Some of the best inventions are actually reinventions. By improving the products we use every day, our lives become more efficient and more enjoyable.
As your students think about the items that they use every day, challenge them to imagine the world as a better place by making changes to the little things in their worlds!
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