Monday, June 15, 2009

This Week's Lessons

For the benefit of the two or two-point-five people who read this blog with an eye to expanding their ESL lesson portfolio, here is a brief description of this week's lessons for first (10th) and second (11th) graders.

First of all, I decided to give the PPT/touch-screen presentation a rest. I have been very academic and demanding lately, especially of first grade, so this is fun week--even though I hope next week will be really cool (stay tuned).

Second, first grade: I am starting by introducing them to the game "I Spy": you know, I spy, with my little eye, something (color). My classroom is actually pretty colorful due to all the different stuff I have in it, like my plants and their pots, coffee mugs, calendar, the decor, etc, etc.

The key teaching point is the construction, "Is it the _____?" They must phrase the question correctly and use the English term for the object. Very basic, but I'm not really trying to teach anything new this week.

So, whoever guesses my object gets to go next. We do this for about 20 minutes then switch to game #2, "Who Am I?" This is a variation on "20 Questions" whereby the object is always a famous person. I have created a bunch of chits and put them in a coffee mug from which someone (me first) draws a name. Then each table, rotating around the room, asks a Yes/No question to hone in on my identity.

I rearranged the desks to make six tables of six instead of 10 tables of four to give them more chances for their group. And when I'm It, I coach them on how to ask questions that narrow the field rather than eliminate only a small group. In other words, "Are you a Korean singer?" is a poor question, since I could be a Korean or a singer and you didn't eliminate either one.

And again, the language key is phrasing a proper question to get a Yes or No answer. "What's your job?" is a clear violation. Next team. "Are you England?" gets a No where "Are you English?" or "Are you from England?" would be a Yes. "Are you fly?" is a No, unless the target is Offspring, while a better question might be "Can you fly?" if you're a superhero.

Third, second grade: the new unit for this class is titled "The First Australians." Desks are in the usual groups of four. In the warm-up, students try to make as many words as possible from the letters in A-B-O-R-I-G-I-N-A-L; today's winner was 16 in both classes. Turns out, ling is a word, who'da thunk it?

But the main activity is one I took from a Dave Deubbelbeiss "Lesson in a Can" called Running Dictation (scroll to #105 at the bottom) in which students memorize a snippet of the information posted on a document, report it back to the base, taking turns, and repeat until they have "downloaded" the entire document. The first team to complete the task are the winners. This is a really good idea.

However, my students are the world's worst CHEATERS, so Mr Hur and I had to continuously modify placement of the document copies and monitor student behavior until we were no longer posting four copies for their convenience, but only two copies, one located in the hallway outside each door to the classroom.

Since the lesson is about indigenous peoples, I used related texts, for example:
The government of Brazil has recently published photographs of an isolated community of indigenous people living in the Amazon rainforest. It is the first time the world has seen this tribe and the first time for the tribe to see the outside world.
The newly-found tribe is surely one of the last remaining peoples on Earth never to have had contact with modern life. The name of the tribe and its exact location are being kept a secret. We only know that the tribe lives in a remote part of the rainforest near the Brazil-Peru border.

One final note I would make is that while I truly appreciate Dave's ESL Classroom 2.0, it is hideously difficult to find anything because the navigation is so poorly organized. Granted, part of that is because of the huge volume of content, but it's moreso because of his idiosyncratic filing-relational-labelling system, for want of a better word. I also dislike having to join a website, even a free one, but this one is worth it for me--if you teach ESL, it's worth it for you, too. One of the best resources.

One more final note I would make is that Mr Hur kept suggesting that students wanted to earn candy for being the winners. These are seventeen year olds. I have used Starburst and Jolly Ranchers before in my career, but only with elementary or middle schoolers. High school students, I explained, should have internalized their motivation for learning and performance by now. Their prize is knowing they won--bragging rights. He agreed, but still suggested they expect something for winning.

That agree/persist thing may be nunchi, the Korean inability to say what they mean, but too bad--we are simply not going to treat high school juniors like ten-year-olds. Grow up.

1 comment:

Max said...

Once you give them candy once they'll always expect it. It's like the warning they give you against feeding wild animals.