Monday, November 30, 2009

Ways to Skin a Cat

UPDATE: Before moving on to today's post, here is a follow-up to yesterday's about the furor surrounding the "short man=loser" meme developing in the Land of the Morning Shallow:
Making people taller is big business among doctors and practitioners, despite the fact that claims on the effectiveness of treatments are often exaggerated or far-fetched. And given the latest court ruling on the matter, it seems nothing will stop them for the time being. [More here.]

So this will probably be my last post of the year about my classroom lesson, since it's practically the last one of the semester--for the two weeks after this we're watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Thanks, Andy!) or taking exams ...

Proverb, noun: a concise saying often in metaphorical form that embodies common wisdom.

Okay, so I have a list of proverbs and their meanings, 21 of them, numbered, all on little slips of paper. Each pair of students has to memorize their proverb, know its number, and be able to explain its meaning. They get about 12 minutes to do this, after a clever introduction and the instructions. The co-teacher and I go around helping them and quizzing them to make sure they've memorized their proverb.

Then they hand in their proverb slip as they get a worksheet with a table to record other students' proverbs onto. I make them scratch through the space where their proverb would go, otherwise they'll just write it down and other students will copy it from their paper.

A large part of designing a lesson plan here is trying to foolproof it from "cheating"--methods by which students avoid speaking to each other in English in order to complete any activity in which they're supposed to speak to each other in English. They will go to great lengths, devise ingenious plans, put forth effort much greater effort than actually speaking English would involve!

So, during the conversation section, they have to go round to other students (ideally following the sample conversation I have on the board for them) exchanging their proverbs and meanings, placing each one in its numbered grid.

The last eight minutes or so, they take a quiz. While I would prefer a written, each-student-do-your-own-work quiz, I realized during first period that that would be a waste of time. So I just had them turn their paper over and answer the questions as a group--yell out if you know the answer.

You know what they say: You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

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