Posted 22/11/12
Some bad language in this one. But you might like that! In the activity, students hear the story of the rescue from the point of view of the people on the ground – the ones flying the radio-controlled airplane. After being asked to guess what happens next, students are given a mysterious dialogue. Intense reading of it should give them the answer – the dialogue is based on the one between the helicopter pilots in the above clip.
  • Language level: Intermediate (B1)
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Activity: Videotelling; Reading
  • Topic: Aviation
  • Language: Still & yet
  • Materials: Video clip
Treetop rescue pdf [downloaded 2491 times]

Lesson plan outline

    1. Tell students that they are going to play a game. You are going to think of a hobby and they have to guess what it is by asking closed questions (i.e. questions to which the answer can only be yes or no). The hobby in question is: flying RC (radio-controlled) model aircraft.
    2. Find out if anyone in the class has ever tried flying an RC model aircraft. Perhaps they know someone who does it as a hobby.
    3. Write the following words / phrases on the board. Ask students if they can define them / explain what they mean:
      • An aircraft: Any flying vehicle (a plane, helicopter, etc.)
      • A fighter: A military plane that is designed for battles with other planes
      • A kit: All the pieces that are necessary to build something (such as a model airplane)
      • An airfield: A place where aircraft land and take off (especially military or private, as opposed to commercial)
      • A runway: A road which allows planes to land or take off
      • To take off: Leave the ground and start flying
      • To land: Return to the ground after flying
    4.  Tell students that you have a story for them. Give them the following situation:
Brian is a remote control model aircraft fan. He spends almost $500 on a P-51 Mustang kit (a P-51 Mustang is a Second World War US fighter). He spends three months building and painting the model plane. When the plane is finally ready, Brian takes it to an airfield in the country. It is a small airfield especially for RC aircraft. It has a runway which allows planes to take off and land. Brian is accompanied by his best friend Ian, and Ian’s son, Leo. To this day, Brian still can’t believe what happened next.
    1. Tell students that something goes wrong. Elicit as many things as possible and write new language on the board. For example:
      • The plane doesn’t start.
      • The wings fall off.
      • It blows up in the air.
      • It gets struck by lightning.
      • It crashes into another plane.
      • It crashes into the ground.
      • It collides with a bird.
      • The radio control doesn’t work and they lose the plane.
    2. Tell students that the plane crashes and gets stuck in the top of the trees.
    3. Tell students that less than five minutes later Brian has his plane back. Ask students to suggest how this happens. Possibilities include:
      • They climb the tree.
      • They send Leo up the tree to get it.
      • The cut the down.
      • The wind blows it down.
    4. Tell students that you have a text for them (included in the PDF download). Tell them that it is a dialogue between two people. Ask students to read the text and work out who and where the people are. Tell students that if they can do that, they will be able to work out how Brian got his plane back.

  1. Ask students to underline any words or phrases that they don’t know.
  2. Ask students to share ideas about a. Where/who these people are and b. Unknown words and phrases.
  3. Take feedback and go over unknown language.
  4. Show the video.

Follow up

Use this activity to introduce still and yet. Give the following gap fill and ask students to complete it before referring back to the text for the answers and moving onto a language study activity.

Complete the following with still or yet:

  1. I see the guy and see the runway but I can’t see the plane ________.
  2. I ________ don’t see it. Oh now I see it. I see the plane.
  3. Have you got it ________? Almost.
  4. Don’t worry – I’ve ________ got it. It’s safe.
  5. To this day, Brian _______ can’t believe what happened next.

Posted 22/11/12

6 Responses to Treetop rescue

  1. Daniel says:

    If that ain’t the sickest fuckin’ lesson you ever done, man!
    That fuckin thing was sick, Jamie. Fuckin’ eh!

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Now, now Daniel. Just because an ex-marine helicopter pilot does it, doesn’t mean that you should too. This is not the bottom half of YouTube.
    Would you care to rephrase that?

  3. Excellent lesson plan Jamie. I just did this with a group of sixteen-year-old lads and they absolutely loved it. Well done mate.

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Nicholas
    This is actually one of my favourite lessons. You have good taste!
    Jamie :)

  5. Angelina Komar says:

    Hi Jamie

    I used this lesson this morning and it worked really really well with my Hong Kong Chinese learners, thank you so much :) I used it in an Integrated Skills lesson so that instead of the short grammar (still/yet) section, I substituted it with a speaking task where the students talked about when someone went out of their way to help someone, and it created quite a nice discussion.

    If you and your other readers are interested, I edited the clip so that it’s much shorter and contains *no* swearing (!) as my fairly conservative learning centre might take issue with it…I could upload it onto YouTube and send you the link if you think it might be helpful?

    I’m a big fan of your site…thanks so much!


  6. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Angelina
    Sorry about my late reply
    Good to hear about your successful class.
    Yes – he has a bit of a foul mouth that pilot, doesn’t he! I think that en edited version would be great. But there is the legal problem of uploading content that we don’t own.
    Perhaps you could try and get in touch with him to ask permission. I seem to remember that he did once say that he would upload a clean version but that never happened.
    Thanks again Angelina!
    Jamie :)