Inside My Classroom: Lesson Plan – Football in American High Schools

This is a post on a lesson I am currently working on for one of my classes.

I teach in an International Baccalaureate school in Japan. I teach both MYP and DP English. The Japanese school year ends in March, so right now we are nearing the end. But we have a few strange weeks which fall in between the year-end exams and our spring break. Last year, I used this time to teach lessons on grammar and sentence structure topics that we hadn’t had a chance to get to during the year. But as most English teachers know, it doesn’t really work to teach a lot of grammar out of context. So this year, I have decided to use the time in one of my classes to get them started on the first unit of the new school year. I am not really diving right into the unit, but instead I am using this time to set the scene and to build some background knowledge.

This lesson will be for the IB course DP English B. In this course, students develop their oral and written English skills through the study of topics such as communication and media, social relationships, global issues, health, science and technology, leisure, and a few others. The teacher is also expected to bring in topics related to English-speaking cultures, since this is an English as a second language course. The lesson I am going to be doing with my students is related to the topics of health, leisure, and culture and traditions.

This is just the first lesson. This is meant to start as an intro to a bigger unit, titled Sports Traditions in English-Speaking Cultures.

In this lesson, I have decided to introduce students to traditions in American football, specifically football in in American high schools. While Japanese students are very familiar with America’s favorite pastime (baseball) since they themselves love the sport, they are not as familiar with American football. I think many people would agree that football in America has actually taken over and become the more popular spectator sport. The topic of football also seems like a great way to introduce my students to some aspects of American high school culture.

I am looking forward to doing this lesson with my students because I really love the show “Friday Night Lights,” and I think it will be fun for them to see a television depiction of American high school culture. This particular class tends to be extremely quiet, so I am having them do a lot of group work to help motivate them to discuss more. I don’t have much success when I try to get them to discuss as a whole-class, but in small groups they seem to enjoy discussions.

I will write a post later this week about how it goes. Here is the lesson plan:

Lesson: Football in American High Schools


Students will:Ÿ

  • define culture
  • identify cultural traditions in American high school and American sports culture (based on their viewing of the pilot episode of the television drama “Friday Night Lights”)
  • discuss how the cultural tradition of football is important to American culture and why it might face opposition by some people
  • use vocabulary related to American culture to discuss football and the television drama “Friday Night Lights”

Essential Questions

  • Why do people play football?
  • How can football promote a sense of community?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of playing football?
  • How does football contribute to creating cultural identity in America?


Day  1

  1. Give students a handout to introduce vocabulary related to American high school (freshman, sophomore, pep rally, etc.) and American football (quarterback, tackle, touchdown, etc.). Go over words and explain cultural terms.
  2. Give students a list of character names from the pilot episode of “Friday Night Lights.” Briefly go over characters so that students have some idea of who they are before watching the program.
  3. Show the pilot episode of “Friday Night Lights” to students. This program will serve as a point of reference throughout the unit when discussing how sports promote community pride and contribute to cultural identity.

 Day 2

  1. Tell students that in this unit, we are going to be thinking about the role sports play in culture, with the goal of learning more about sports played in English-speaking countries. We will begin by looking at the role football plays in American culture.
  2. Write the word “culture” on the board. Write two questions: What is culture? What are examples of culture? Tell students to write ideas in their notebooks for five minutes.
  3. Put students into pairs. Pairs should discuss their ideas with each other. Together, they must write a basic definition of culture. Walk around the room and check their understanding. This activity should help students gain confidence before they share their ideas with the whole group.
  4. Go over students ideas about culture. Call on pairs of students to explain what “culture” means. Using their ideas, write a definition of culture on the board. Students copy this definition into their notebooks. The definition should be something like:

Culture is a shared set of practices and traditions that characterize a society or group of people. Culture can include clothing, food, traditions, ceremonies, spiritual practices and beliefs, language, family structure, and communication styles.

Model to students how to write a clear definition and how to identify examples of culture by identifying specific examples of Japanese culture. (Make a list of specific examples on the board.)

  1. Put students into groups of four. In their groups, they will discuss these questions:
  • What is your reaction to the show “Friday Night Lights”? What did you find interesting? What did you find difficult to understand?
  • How does football help to promote community pride in the town of Dillon, Texas?
  • What did you learn about American culture by watching the show? (You may discuss anything – you do not have to only discuss football.)
  • What are the positive benefits of playing football in American high school? What are the drawbacks of playing football?
  • How is football an important part of American culture? How does it contribute to creating a sense of American identity?

Independent Practice

Students write a journal response in their notebooks. Journal responses must be one page. Journal responses must answer the question “How is football an important part of American culture?” Students may also discuss other questions from their group discussions. We will discuss their ideas together in class the following day.


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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s