Culture Shock · Education · Elementary School Education · 英語ノート① · 英語ノート② · Lesson Plans · Living in Japan

Attack of the Missing Lesson Plans

Man, I getting behind on posting my elementary school lesson plans. I taught class totally by myself at one of my elementary schools. At the one school, this usually spells disaster because the kids just will not behave without their main teacher around, but it is a different story at the other school. The moment I raise my voice or start to use the mommy voice, kids immediately start behaving. The reason for my teaching a class totally alone is that one of the teacher’s just became a father. I need to get him a card, at least, and would like to give his newborn son something too. I am thinking about going shopping and getting him a cute card and a photo frame. While I will be going to the school he works at tomorrow, I think I will give it to him on Thursday when I teach class with him. Anyway, his students explained to me why their teacher was not there followed by the question, “Katherine-sensei, aren’t you going to become a mommy?” I couldn’t help but laugh. I know that some people my age already have kids, but I am only 24 for crying out loud! Kids seemed satisfied with my answer of “someday” and we began class.

In 6th grade, we are still playing with the alphabet. Why 英語ノートwants to spend two months on the alphabet and now allow us to teach the kids how to write it is beyond me. Lesson two magically combines “How many?” along with the alphabet, which makes little sense to me. For this lesson, I decided to make sure that the kids were able to visualize the shapes of all the capital letters before introducing lower case letters next week. I must admit, the game(s) I came up with took much less time that I had thought they would, but I guess that just goes to show you how bright this particular group of students are.

Greet with students
Activity p. 9

Having completed this activity the previous lesson, I asked for 10 volunteers to come to the board and write one of the six words they found. I then, with the help of the main teacher, explained what each word meant. There were some great ones including WC (water closet, better known as bathroom) and Playboy. A few kids wrote Care Bears and Snoopy, which lead me to explaining how these are very popular in America. I was a little surprised, but really shouldn’t have been, when kids did not know that Snoopy came from a comic strip and was not the main character. When I explained that I used to watch the Care Bears’ TV show when I was little, the kids’ expressions were priceless. “There is a TV show?!”

Let’s Play ①

This took the kids about…oh…a minute to complete? While this was ridiculously easy for my students to complete, it probably gave many of them a confidence boots.

Play 【Alphabet Pairs】

I started out the game talking to students about how I always use flashcards during lessons. As if I had planned it, a student or two then realized that my usual alphabet cards were not on the board. I then told the students that I made new cards, but I had a terrible accident. I then held up alphabet cards I had made that were cut in half. Some kids genuinely believed that someone had stolen my cards from me, cut them in half, and then returned them to me. It was kind of cute. In one class, one kid was a total mood breaker and said, it actually sounded more like a question, that I had cut the card in half myself. I asked students if they could help me put all 26 letters back together – cue lots of enthusiasm from the kids. I gave each kid one, in some cases two, card and they had to find the person that held the other half of their letter. Surprisingly, this didn’t take the kids very long to do at all, but they all really seemed to enjoy it.

Sing 【The Alphabet Song】

This song never seems to get old with the kids, at least not at my one elementary school. I had students sing the song while omitting some of the letters via claps. Kids really seemed to enjoy this.

Let’s Play ②

For a book, or maybe it is just my board of education, that doesn’t want us to teach the kids how to write and/or spell, this activity puzzled me. Students had to be able to write and spell the names of three people. This was not too difficult for some students, but I had them do the activity in lunch groups just to make sure that no child felt too stressed about not knowing how to spell Edison.

Play 【Spelling Bee】

Actually, I have no real title for this game. I just came up with it since I had some time left over in some of my classes. Since kids were still in their lunch groups, I had them take out their previously cut alphabet cards and try to spell English words based on what they heard. I did a few easy words like cat, dog, and Japan before throwing a few words at them that they probably had no idea how to spell like April, strawberry, and, as a final challenge, my name. Some of the spellings of “Katherine” were just too good. I saw Kashyin, Kyasaerin, Kasarun, and a few others. One group came very close after a few hints from me with Kasharine, but kids were shocked when I wrote the proper spelling on the board.

Review and say good-bye with students

And there you have it! Now, let’s move on to some 5th grade lessons!

At my one school, the 5th graders are an absolute terror…on most days. There are days where they actually listen and I can get through class with just a little extra effort. However, most of the time it takes my mommy voice and the teacher getting on their angry voice to get the kids to behave and stop goofing off during class. In one class, the trouble makers stop after the first two snaps from the teacher and myself. In the other class, it is another story (note, no problems thus far at my other elementary school). Today, was the first time I genuinely got angry and raised my voice to students. As you will see in my lesson, at the end of the lesson I played a variation of Fruits Basket with the kids. Now, there are always a few kids who goof off during this game and I usually give the kids a lot of leeway because it is nice to let them get excited about playing a game while using English at the same time. Today, however, the same 5 boys made it almost impossible to play the game. While students ran around switching chairs, they would wrestle in the middle of the circle, push and throw others off seats, and cause so much chaos that it took about 5 minutes for each round to end when it should really only take about 30 seconds. After giving several warnings, both myself and the teacher, I stopped class with a few minutes left to address the problem. I explained my disappointment in several students who were dicking around while playing the game. I understand that playing games is exciting and fun, but there is a big difference between having fun and fucking around. The latter takes away from game play and causes trouble for those who want to actually play and study English. Most students nodded in agreement…and then Katherine’s supper pissed mommy moment came. One boy, one of the problems of the day and every day, laughs and says he doesn’t see the problem as long as he is having fun dicking around. Oh, I went off and the teacher full on supported me with her own speech at the end. I pretty much called the kid selfish and said if he, and others who shared his point-of-view, were not to participate in my class anymore and could spend the 45 minutes sitting with the school principal. I continued by telling the class that I have never seen such disrespectful students in any of my classes until I started teaching this one and I full on asked a few of the trouble makers if they were causing so much trouble because I was a foreigner and they wanted to disrespect a foreign language. This really shook up a few of the kids who knew I was directing those comments at them. One kid still laughed; apparently he thought I was joking. The teacher got mad at this point and full on grabbed the kid by the shirt and shook him a little. They did this to a few of the other trouble making kids who started laughing. Sadly, this was all last period, so it is definitely not how I wanted to end a day of work, but these kids need to be put in their place. It’s not fair to those who actually want to learn.

Um…I was supposed to share a lesson wasn’t I?

Greet with students
Review previous vocabulary

two of my students interviewing each other

Activity on pg. 15

For this activity, students interview 6 friends by asking, “How are you?”. Students then record the answer in their book. While students are not always excited about it, I make it so they have to interview half boys and half girls. If I don’t do this, they always just talk with their friends.

Let’s Play 2 pg. 12 & gestures in the back of the book

Depending on the teacher, I did short skits with the teachers demonstrating the gestures shown in the book. For the “come here” gestures, the teacher would call me and ask me to “come here” and help by pointing to their nose while saying “please help me” and using a Japanese gesture of “come here” with the palm faced down and fingers beckoning back and forth quickly. Cue me walking away with a strange look on my face (kids didn’t quite understand why I was moving in the opposite direction). In the second skit teacher asked for help but this time with the palm faced upwards and curling the arm and fingers to the chest while asking me to “come here” and “please help me.” Then, and only then, did I come and help the teacher lift a very heavy wastebasket. Kids understood the difference between the hand gestures and I then had to explain the difference between pointing to ones nose and putting a hand over ones heart to mean “I.” I told students that when I was first studying Japanese, I saw so many Japanese people pointing to their nose and saying “私 watashi” that I thought the Japanese word for nose was watashi. I am not sure if this is true or not, but I told my students that the reason Americans (other countries too?) put their hand over their heart when they are talking about themselves is that we believe that a person’s existence/soul/personality resides in the heart. It makes a good story.

my ridiculous looking flashcards courtesy of Microsoft clip art
Play 【Mutual Feelings】

Students are given a feeling card. They may not show this card to anyone. Students then must find other people in the class who are feeling the same. When the group is all together, students must go to either the ALT or the JTE and do the dialogue with them before they return their cards and sit down.

Play 【Feelings Basket】

Students are given feeling cards. They may not show that card to anyone else. Make a circle with chairs, and have one person standing in the middle. The class then asks the person in the middle “How are you?”. The person in the middle then answers, “I’m (the feeling on their card).”. Students sitting down who do not have the same card as the person in the middle then have to change seats. For a little variation, take away two chairs so that the two people who cannot sit down have to perform the dialogue in the middle.

Review and say good-bye with students


5 thoughts on “Attack of the Missing Lesson Plans

  1. Good grief–that newspaper is in need of some serious editing–gives me a headache just reading the few lines.

    Mommy someday–yep yep yep–in the future–yep yep yep–in the future

    Forgot whatelse I was going to say. Have to get up early and take my car in–seems the brakes are having issues.

    My friend Shorty, the pit bull, had to be put down–I’m sure the second hand smoke from everything the owners smoked contributed to her issues.

    My friend Meow Meow passed away a few weeks ago, she lived in Bonny Doon, was there today, was strange not having her come out to meet me. Buddy their dog finally showed up. They have a new horse named KoKo.

    Time for bed

    1. You have no idea how terribly written some of the articles were. I practically demanded they send me the original Japanese so I could understand what the writer wanted to say.

      Mommy will happen after the wedding, Jun has a job, and give or take another year or two. Would like to have “our own” home by then as well – aka, not be borrowing an apartment from my employer.

    1. You would be surprised how many of my Jr. high school third years mix up “b” and “d” or forget to capitalize the beginning of a sentence or someone’s name.

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