It is startling how different my lessons are between my two elementary schools has become. Last year, they were about the same, but this year it is almost like night and day. The school I go to on Tuesdays I have been at ever since I came to Japan to work – coming up on three years. The other one, which I go to on Wednesdays and Fridays, I have been at for just over half a year. At school number one, the 6th graders have been with me since they were 4th graders and this is their second year having classes with me once a week. They are used to my routine and listen for the most part, but it is very difficult for me to teach them without their regular teacher there. The 5th graders, see my previous post, have become a total nightmare to teach and are really taking away from the joy I have for teaching. At school number two, I have had to teach several classes alone due to teachers suddenly having to take the day off (one for the birth of his son and another because their own child became very sick) and I was able to get through classes with just a little more effort. I don’t know what it is, but students at school number two have always been more behaved and I have yet to use my “angry mommy voice” yet. I have had to use my “slightly raised mommy voice” once or twice, but it was not such a big deal. Due to the behavior problems at the one school, I have decided to cut a lesson from lesson 2. The focus on making big gestures seems too much for them to handle maturely along with the active games we play. Keeping my fingers crossed that things perk up a bit this coming week.
This lesson has been cut from the one school, but it went amazingly well at the other one.
Greet with students
Play 【Feeling Evolution】
After going over the 10 feelings and, as one student said, states of being, I arranged the cards on the board in the following order: sick→sad→mad→hot→cold→sleepy →thirsty→hungry→fine→happy. Some kids started to get excited because they recognized the layout as the 【Gokiburi Game】we played back in lesson 1. Unlike last time, students now start out as “sick” and try to work their way up to being “happy” by greeting with their classmates, asking “How are you?”, and playing rock-paper-scissors. Instead of giving them a time constraint, I decided to let the kids play until one, or more, person reached the “I’m happy” state of being. This actually took the kids between 10 – 15 minutes and they were upset when I told them the game had ended. I probably could have played this game the entire lesson and the kids would have been happy
Let’s Listen pg. 14
I kind of chose to do this activity as a means for the kids to unwind a little after being silly during 【Feeling Evolution】. In this activity, students listen to two conversations and try to figure out which of the pictured pairs is talking. I told students to ignore the whole numbering the conversation part, and just had them listen. In a nut shell, conversation one was two people meeting for the first time – complete with the “nice to meet you” and “my name is Yuka” stuff. Conversation two were two friends greeting. Both conversations included the lesson’s target English of “How are you?”. The way I approached this was by having the kids listen to one of the conversations twice and then asked them to tell me what they heard. As students said words, I wrote them on the board. We then listened to the other conversation. This time, I asked them what words were different from the first conversation. Some of the kids asked to listen to conversation one one more time, but the kids at least caught on that conversation two was a lot shorter than the first one. After a little bit of pulling, and role playing between the teacher and I , kids got that the conversations were illustrating the difference between meeting someone for the first time and friends meeting.
Play 【Feeling Basket】
Students asked me at the beginning of the class if we were going to play it again, so I thought it only fair to reward their good behavior.
Review and say good-bye with students
My 6th grade lesson was kind of all over the place depending on the class. I essentially used the time to get all my classes in the same place so I can officially start lesson 2 at the same time. Despite essentially winging the lesson, it went well. The below lesson plan is the general idea of what I did. Some classes had not completed all the activities from the previous lesson, so those were mixed in.
Greet with students
Play【BIG A little a】
I decided to utilize the cards in the back of 英語ノート and had students cut out the lower case alphabet cards as well. Students then played in pairs using one set of upper case letters and one set of lower case letters and turning them face down on their desks. Instead of boring the kids to death with more picture cards, this time with lower case letters, I thought it would be better for the kids to take learning the shapes into their own hands. Students then had to match upper case and lower case cards to form a pair. I told students that they could refer to 英語ノート if they were unsure of what letter they had flipped. Kids really seemed to enjoy this and I was happy to see kids actively looking up the letters.
Let’s learn how to say words for animals in different languages!
I put together the above cards during one of my several hours of free time at the Jr. high school. This is one thing that originally drove me nuts about 英語ノート – why do they expect an ALT, or the poor Japanese teachers for that matter, to teach all these languages?! My one elementary school thinks it is silly that the English activity classes include these sorts of things, but I reminded them that the purpose is not actually English. The kids actually seemed to enjoy seeing all the different languages and how different they are from their own. A few kids commented that some of them, namely Arabic and Thai, did not even look like words. I had to remind them that for most Americans, looking at kanji invokes the same reaction. Nice little eye opener for them. Incase those of you reading are interested…the languages are Thai (elephant cha-ngu), Swahili (giraffe), English (penguin), Chinese (panda shionmao), Korean (tiger horani), Japanese (monkey saru), Arabic (bird tairu), Russian (bear metobe-ji). If anyone here speaks any of these languages, feel free to correct the pronunciation part. I only have the katakana-ized versions to go on.
Review and say good-bye with students
One thing I have decided to do this year is make handouts for my students after we complete each lesson. Chances are that most of them will never give the piece of paper a second glance, but I know of a handful of students in each class that are at least semi-serious about wanting to learn English. My 6th graders have just completed a lesson, so they I will be making an alphabet handout for them. On the other hand, my 5th graders have now completed two lessons. Here are the handouts I have made. Like always, if you want copies for yourself, just leave me a comment and you are welcome to them.