Through #MyClimateAction, National Geographic is sharing amazing stories of guardians of the planet – people who are proving the power of one. This lesson plan is designed around a 5-minute short film telling a fascinating story of the Snow Guardian who has been fighting his own climate battle for over 40 years. In this lesson, students make predictions, watch a video and talk about climate change.

Language level: Intermediate (B1) – Upper Intermediate (B2)

Step 1

Tell your students that they are going to watch a video about Billy Barr who lives in Gothic, Colorado – a ghost town that was abandoned in the early 1900s and remains empty during the winter months now, except for Billy Barr. It is one of the coldest spots in the USA and gets plenty of snow. People call Billy Barr a snow guardian.

Think-pair/team up-share

Ask your students to think what their life would be like if they lived in a ghost town and were a snow guardian. (*You can use a ready-made worksheet, see the link below, or get your students to make their own worksheet). Get them to fill in the left column of the worksheet – “If I were a snow guardian and lived in a ghost town”.

(Click the following link to download the worksheet worksheet_snow_guardian)

Split students into small teams or pairs and ask them to share their ideas and describe Billy Barr’s life based on their notes.

Step 2. 

Have the students think of 3 questions they’d like to ask the Snow Guardian. Play the video. As the students watch the video, they should check how accurate their answers were and fill in the worksheet with facts about Billy Barr.

Step 3.

Get feedback from the whole class on what they have understood.

Step 4. 

Before you play the video again, get the students to discuss the following questions in pairs/small teams.

  • Why did Billy start recording snow levels?
  • Why are his records so valuable?
  • Which two trends does Billy mention?
  • Which advice does Billy give?

Play the video again.

Step 5.

Get the students to discuss what they have understood in pairs/small teams first and then hold a whole class discussion.

Step 6.

Hand out a sheet of paper to each student and ask them to write down one question to the Snow Guardian that remained unanswered. Then the students should rotate the worksheets and answer the questions (any question they like) and put ‘+1’ (or their ‘like’) under the answers they agree with until they get their worksheet back. Discuss the most liked/most interesting answers.

Discuss the most liked/most interesting answers.

Zoom in: refer your students to this article where they may find more information about Billy Barr.


Click here to download the Subtitles to the video.

Further activities:

Climate Change

Just Follow the Frog

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, creative commons.

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