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Archive for the ‘Lesson Plans’ Category

The nature of the consecutive holidays in Silver Week had me back home from backpacking in the Iide mountain range in Yamagata prefecture late Wednesday night, and while Thursday came early, a two-day work week is much more manageable than a five-day one after some time off.  More on my Silver Week adventures later, I’d love to share a highlight in my work and lesson planning which has me super excited.  Today, I arrived at one of my elementary schools to find that I was responsible for 2nd period English class with my 1st and 2nd graders.  With nothing but a stack of cardboard numbers as inspiration, I decided to make today’s lesson about numbers, 1-10, and basic body parts (head, arms, legs, eyes, nose, mouth.)  My lesson plan went as follows:

1. Daily Greeting

  • Hello, Good Morning, How are you?, I’m great, thanks!

2. Numbers

  • 1 – 10
  • 10 – 1 (much harder than I thought it would be)

3. Song

  • 1 little, 2 little, 3 little Monsters (I remember when I learned this song, “monsters” was “indians,” but apparently America has become increasingly PC in the past twenty years and “indians” is no longer appropriate.  Regardless, I prefer monsters, anyway.)
  • The song I downloaded was a little fast, so I played it first, translated, we practiced several times at our own pace, then sang along to the song a couple times.
  • Goal: getting the kids comfortable counting up and down, and to introduce the ‘fun’ aspect to the classroom.  Goal reached successfully.  (There’s nothing worse than a quiet, disinterested classroom.)
  • Incidentally, iTunes really pulled through, and I now own 150 Children’s Songs for $9.99

4. Body Parts Review? Introduction?

  • Head, Arms, Legs
  • Eyes, Nose, Mouth

5. The Monster Drawing Game

  • Split the class into 1st grade (4 students) and 2nd grade (4 students)
  • I drew an example monster on the blackboard with: 2 heads, 3 arms, 1 leg, 6 eyes, 4 noses, 8 mouths.
  • Had the first team come up, with each student drawing the body part and however many of it that I would say at the moment.  Ditto with the second team.
  • Had kiddos name their monsters
  • Pointed to monster body part, had students say back to me the body part and how many of it there was.
  • Goal: Basic body parts and saying numbers non-consecutively. Getting kids up and moving.  Fun!  Goals reached successfully.

6.  What time is it, Mr. Monster?

  • Essentially ‘Red Light, Green Light’
  • Teacher and I showed class first
  • Students move desks, all stand on one side of the room.  Other student, or me first, stands at opposite side of room with back turned to kiddos
  • Students ask “What time is it, Mr. Monster?”  Mr. Monster says, “It’s 4 o’clock!” (Insert numbers 1-10 here.)  Students take that many steps towards Mr. Monster.  The person to reach Mr. Monster becomes the next Mr. Monster.
  • Goal: Getting kids to conjure up numbers on their own.  Simple English phrase repetition.  Body movin’, body groovin’.  Fun!  Goals reached successfully!

7. Closing remarks

  • Kids counted up and back for me, named body parts
  • Everyone said “Thank you!” and I said, “You’re welcome! Goodbye”
  • Everyone said “See you!”

Kids all seemed to have fun, lots of giggling, being super enthusiastic, and a little competitive.  Japanese teacher commented on how interesting my lesson was and how fun it was to watch the students.  Asked me for a CD of the Kid’s Songs to play in her class in the morning, as the thinks it will help with English Comprehension!  Sunny outside, get to make curry and rice with the handicap class during 4th period and eat it for lunch, Welcome Party this evening at my Principal’s House.  Today will be just fine.

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Let's Meet Karissa

Monday and Tuesday of this week found me standing in front of groups of young people, essentially trying to make myself seem as slightly strange but enticingly cool as possible.  The jury is still out, but I had a lot of fun planning and executing.  I created a power point of about twenty slides detailing my full name and its origins (Japanese people don’t have middle names), my family members, my hobbies, the states I’ve lived in in America, the countries I’ve lived in – perfect segue into “When I was in Junior High School, I studied French.  You study English” – my beautiful Colorado and what it’s known for, and the foods I like.  Some excerpts below.  I then passed out worksheets asking simple questions which I covered in my presentation.  A couple hitches, though.  Two questions “What is Karissa’s favorite movie?” and “What is Karissa’s favorite book?” I left unanswered, so students would have to ask me themselves.  Did you know that my favorite movie apparently is Pirates of the Carribean, and my favorite book is Harry Potter?  While the second answer is a little more accurate than the first, I thought it was best to answer with something that has some cross-cultural reference.

Name Mathematics

Name Mathematics

By far, Samson was the biggest hit

By far, Samson was the biggest hit

Telluride, CO

Next "hobby" slide included: cooking with friends, traveling, reading

Next "hobby" slide included: cooking with friends, traveling, reading

Everyone was really surprised about the no tomato thing

Everyone was really surprised about the no tomato thing

Woot!

Woot!

My final slide was “What is your motto?”  While I actually don’t have one single “motto” that governs my life, I needed some way to drop some knowledge on these kids.  I settled on “Make Mistakes” which I then extrapolated to mean that one learns from his or her mistakes, and in the classroom, I want the students to be comfortable with making mistakes in English.  It’s the speaking and the trying that is important.

Overall, I discovered that there are some pretty big differences in both the English language abilities and the demeanor between my 1st, 2nd and 3rd years.  The 3rd years are much more advanced, seemed to understand simple sentence structure and vocabulary, and were much more willing to participate in class.  (So far, my faves.) My 2nd years were very, very quiet.  Hesitant to speak up.  My 1st years are rowdy, very little understanding of English, but generally fun to be around.  I am not sure if I will improve their confidence and speaking abilities or even incite a love of learning English, which opens up so many doors in life, but I hope to at least make class fun.  As in, what slightly ridiculous thing will she do next??

There are so many bad teachers in the world, but when I look back at my educational career, I realize that I have been truly lucky in the teachers and professors under whom I have studied.  And this has sparked a slew of questions on what it is that actually makes a good teacher.  So far, I have brainstormed, in the older grades: a true, burning passion for the subject they teach, a thorough and inexhaustible knowledge on that subject, a sense of humor!!, the ability to stop lecturing once in awhile and provoke thoughtful classroom discussion, which most certainly means asking the right questions.  In the younger grades: the ability to hand some responsibility over to the students in the form of projects, plays, etc, to make varied lesson plans, to take learning outside of the classroom, passion and humor, too!  It is a daunting task, but I hope to at least give back a little of that which I have been so fortunate enough to receive.

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