Harnessing The Wind Part 2

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SWBAT ask and answer questions about key details in an informational text.

Big Idea

We are never too young to change our world! Today students will learn all about William Kamkwamba, who changed his life and the lives of the people in his village.


7 minutes

Lesson Context and Overview

Today, I am excited about the topic I will be covering with my students. I will be teaching them all about William Kamkwamba, who, at the tender age of 14, created a windmill for his family and village in Malawi. This is a TED talk video, and so the students are going to get to hear from William, who is now in his 20s, as he shares his story. The video is a rich telling of his journey and also offers photos of his village and the items he used to create the windmill, which will elicit much conversation. As the students watch the video, they will be taking notes on a template I created.

After the video, I will read the book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba. I will read and pause to let the students take notes on new information they are hearing about William.

When we are done, the students will gather their information and write about what they learned about William Kamkwamba.

Lesson Opening

On the rug with the students, I share the student friendly objective: "I can ask and answer questions about a person who changed his world."

Then, I ask them, "What are autobiographies?" We recently read another autobiography so I am counting on them to remember. I will let them know that today they will be exposed to another autobiography in a different way. They will get to see and see the real person talking about them and an invention that changed the lives around him for the better.

Video: William Kamkwamba

30 minutes

Now the students get to see the TED Talk video by William Kamkwamba-How I built a windmill. I created a template with text dependent questions for them to answer. I guide them by asking them to read the question before they answer it. I pause the video for them to take notes. My students know they can use words, phrases, and illustrations to use as notes.

Here are examples: 

The video provides rich text features like photos and captions, which I will be pointing out to them. As it happens with other videos, my students will want to share their observations: 

Here is the video:

Reading the Book: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

20 minutes

In order to engage deeply in the process of research, my students need to gather information from different sources. That is why I read the book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba.

My students sit on the rug with a clipboard and a paper, Ready to Take Book Notes. As I read certain pages, they take note of what captures their attention and details about William Kamkwamba's life. I pause and give them time to write 2-3 words or phrases and then move.

Here are some notes: 

This is a long story, so they do not take notes about every single page. To prepare for this, it is best to read the story beforehand and decide what pages would the class benefit most from stopping and giving them time to take notes. In determining where to stop, it is good to think about how the book compliments and adds to the TED Talk video.

Independent Writing: Who is William Kamkwamba

20 minutes

Now, my students get an opportunity to write about this incredible young man. I am curious to see what details of his life they include. They need to write complete sentences, and I expect them to integrate some of the vocabulary words that were used in the video and book. 


As they write, I walk around and lend assistance. Some students will need support with sentence structure, others will need help with spelling words, and others will need redirection. Once I am sure everyone is diligently working on their task, I sit at the round table and if anyone needs help with they are to come to me. I sit where I can see everyone.

More examples: