An Inconvenient Infomercial Lesson Plan

This lesson plan was very effective in our communication skills and teaching class at UBC – the class really enjoyed it, and we enjoyed teaching it.  The assignment was to somehow relate the documentary “An Incovenient Truth” to a subject we will be teaching; myself, Karli Raine and Peter Wilson chose to adapt it for a theatre class.  It was effective because it served to personalize global issues for the class – it was also fun and collaborative.

Lesson Name or Number: Lesson #2 of 4 for Inconvenient Truth

Names: Karli Raine, Lori Kokotailo, Peter Wilson Subject: Drama Grade: 10 Date: 10/13/09

Why? To connect drama to students’ world by incorporating a current event issue (global warming) with pop culture references (Al Gore documentary and infomercials) in order to expose students to a global perspective on the developing climate change.  This information will be reinforced through visualizations (offering a taste of future consequences), and encouraging the students to be ‘critical thinking problem solvers’ by having them create inventions to solve these global issues.
Credo for lesson plan: Thinking Globally; Acting Locally.
1. Exploration and Imagination: Expression and trustDemonstrate trust in self and others through class activities and individual and ensemble performances2. Drama skills: Drama as metaphorSuspend disbelief to create drama, use objects as symbols of abstract concepts in a drama

3. Context: Social and Cultural Contextrealize, in production, relevant issues of cross-cultural importance; create drama that demonstrates a responsibility to the community.

Instructional Learning Objectives:
“Students will connect the environmental issues in An Inconvenient Truth to their own world through visualizing, suspending disbelief, and by co-operatively creating a short infomercial scene with their peers.”


Teacher Students
-create and load PowerPoint onto laptop-pre-load you-tube video so its ready to go

-visualization sheets with questions

-bring extra household objects

-a handout of their scenario (Africa, Brazil, Vancouver, the UK)

-Household objects-Watch infomercials/ commercials

-Watch An Inconvenient Truth (in class)

-Bring creativity

Lesson Activities:  Time allotted—40mins

Time Teacher Activities Student Activities
10 mins


1. Mimed Object Pass

2. Make machines

3. Number Game

1. In a circle, mime an object, pass it to the next person who must use it and pass to next person…etc.2. In each group one person starts with an action and a vocalization, one person at a time adds to the machine with new and different vocal/physical.

3. Stand in a circle and try to count to 21 without speaking at same time as anyone, or saying more than one number when you do count.




  • Walk students through 3 visualizations
  • 1980s, 2. 2010, 3. 2040.  See visualization sheet with questions
  • Visualize and mime according to the questions that the visualization poses
  • Put themselves in the world of 1980, 2010, 2040 to see the past, present and future consequences of global warming

15 mins


  • Watch infomercial and think pair share about them
  • Into 4 groups, give them scenario, make an infomercial of 1-2 minutes using household item as a machine that will fix their global warming consequence scenario.
  • In groups make an infomercial
  • Collaborate and create a machine or product that will increase quality of life in your scenario.
  • Machine must be made of one item and two people
  • Make it convincing and creative

  • Watch infomercials, probe questions that need to be raised on how and why product is effective
  • Watch and be a good supportive audience for classmates
  • Pose questions and challenge other groups
  • Infomercial must meet guidelines (on PowerPoint)
5 mins


  • Vote on which gadget or machine is the most global because the UN can’t decide
  • Announce credo: think globally act locally
  • Students vote for another team’s infomercial, can’t vote for own, vote for the most globally sound or the most convincing infomercial that will be ‘put into production’ to save the world from consequences of global warming

  • Will be filming infomercials.
  • Make a story board (which we have made before in our silent movie unit so they know what it is)
  • Storyboard due next day.  Filming following day
  • Create a storyboard, brainstorm costumes, props, set pieces, make up music etc. to go into the film.
1 min Check out
  • Each student gives a short reflection on the day as an exit slip
“Students will connect the environmental issues in An Inconvenient Truth to their own world through visualizations, suspending disbelief and by creating a short infomercial scene with their peers co-operatively”.Is Infomercial convincing? Did it pertain to their specific environmental issue?

Did they use their chosen object in a creative way that went beyond everyday use?

Did they work together co-operatively, sharing ideas and direction? Did students take risks in performance?

Did they follow formula of infomercial “hook, demo, why, wrap up, phone number to call?” – were ideas clear?

Voice/Movement: commercial voice, intonation, volume – did physical choices incorporate thinking about tempo/Laban work.

As Drama assessment is skill-based, a student’s work would be examined individually within the continuum of their work to the present.

Laptop, PowerPoint, infomercial clips, Inconvenient Truth clips (if necessary)Hand-outs for groups with explanations.  Slips indicate what group each student is a member of. (if necessary)

A selection of household items. Nothing sharp or possibly dangerous.

Behavioral Strategies
Keep the class in the roomClear space for visualization, rehearsal and performance space. Rules are clear for each warm-up/exercise – i.e. no touching during visualization.

Talk about using props with respect – not to be used for hitting one another.

In previous lessons, we would have worked on improvisation, machine building and changing objects.In the future we will be working on silent movies and storyboarding.

The next part of this lesson would be discussing storyboarding and filming the infomercials.

After the presentations the students will write a reflection on what they did, how they can change their lifestyle and how they can act locally / globally.

The work in this class would connect well with Social Studies.

Depending on student’s abilities and areas of comfort – there are options to take a speaking role in the commercial or a physical role as part of the machine.If a student was gifted, they could do further research to add to their ‘filmed’ infomercial.

For children of different cultural backgrounds – they could research alternative environmental problems and imagine future problems to create their infomercial.

Groups would work to create performance opportunities for children with disabilities.

Options: If Done Early or Not Done
If they are done early they could start working on a storyboard and discussing costume and set design for filming.If they don’t finish they could show the class their machine idea and explain the product. They could share it next class while they work on filming.
This entry was posted in 05: Effective Teaching Practices. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s