Friday, November 13, 2009

Frauds and Monsters

That's what I ended up titling my lesson in second grade this week. The textbook chapter is about Scotland, for reasons which I won't get into here (mainly because I have no idea). Anyway, last week, I played 20 Questions with them under the guise of "Who Am I? Scotland Edition". They like 20 Questions, even though most classes are notoriously bad at it.

First question: "You Korean singer?"

For God sake, man, do you not understand why that is a horrible first question--even if the category isn't "Scotland"?!? Incidentally, the names were "associated" with Scotland, but had to be people they'd know--James Bond, famously portrayed by Sean Connery, Hermione Granger, a character created by JK Rowling, who lives in Scotland, etc. Of course, they're always people I feel sure my students will know (Obi-Wan Kenobi, Peter Pan, Alexander Graham Bell), but half the time, somewhere around question no. 12, someone will ask, "Are you famous?"

For fellow teachers wondering how I do this in a classroom with 30-odd students, I arrange the seats in groups of six, and rotate the student that asks the question from each table in turn. Syntax is one of the key teaching points, so they must phrase a question. Time limit, one chance to rephrase, etc. I draw the first name, but after that the correct guesser becomes "it".

Anyway, this was week two, so I don't know why I'm going on and on about last week. The first thing we did was watch this video:

They write a two-sentence response to the product, and eventually I inform that it is a hoax--a prank, a trick, joke, fake, fraud. Everyone thinks they are too smart to fall for a hoax, but you don't think that way when it's your teacher--or a scientist or other respected figure (Hwang Woo-suk, anybody?)

From here, I take them to the Loch Ness Monster, show some pics and a video, and then this cartoon:

The point is that whether or not Nessie is a fraud, some people have reason to perpetuate it. Next up on the slide show is a variety of "true or false" monster images--mermen, giant glowing squids, the elephant man, blue people of Kentucky, the Scottish Brothers.

The Scottish Brothers--I'd never heard of them either, before I started researching this lesson--were dicephalus conjoined twins who lived in King Edward III's court most of their lives, until their death a few days apart in about 1490. They were well-educated, spoke multiple languages, and harmonized grand duets--one tenor, the other bass. They also argued a lot.

I had heard of the two-headed monster game, somewhere in the ESL world, where students pair off and speak by alternating word-by-word, as if one brain is using two mouths. More advanced students could do this extemporaneously, but my guys would need a script.

So we played the "Scottish Brothers" for the last 15 minutes. I created an interview Q & A worksheet, where the answers would require some practice beforehand, since they had blanks to fill in:
Q4: Tell us about your hobbies.
Q5: Do you like to play sports? Which ones?
Q6: What book did you read most recently?
A4: We both enjoy ______ and also ______.
A5: Yes! We play doubles in tennis! We also like ______ and even ______.
A6: I read ______; my brother just finished ______.

Doubles in tennis!

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