Saturday, February 11, 2012

In the Classroom: Friends

The last couple of weeks I've been doing lessons on "Friends" with my 6th and 7th graders.  We start by talking about describing words, and then we move one to describe people in the classroom.  Csabi is silly, Molli has beautiful blue eyes.  I wrote a short paragraph describing my friend Megan, and then I ask them to write several sentences describing on of their friends.

Here are a few of my favorite bits:

Molli and Nori wrote about each other.

As a warm-up for this class (and because I am tired of asking "How are you doing?" and hearing "Thanks!" or "I am fine thanks.") we talked about different ways to answer "How are you?"  One of the options I gave was "super-duper."  It is so gratifying when my students use vocabulary I teach them.  Especially in such a cute way.

It breaks my heart to correct sentences like "We hang together always."

A wonderful piece by Benjamin about his "favorite friend", Barni.

"160 centimeters?" I asked Benjamin jokingly, surprised by the accuracy.  He shrugged and made that non-committal "eh-uh-eh" sound.  I guess it was a guess.  :)

We also played "Guess who" with people in the classroom.  I wrote all of our names on little pieces of paper, and one student came up to the front of the room and I gave them a name of a classmate.  Other classmates would ask yes or no questions (hopefully something like "Does she have curly hair?" although sometimes they asked "Is it Bence?") until we guessed who the person was.  

In one class, my name was up.  A student asked, "Is she nice?"  Dominic, who was at the front of the class, bobbed his head back and forth and made a really long squiggly thinking noise: "Mmmmmyes."  Right answer, Dominic.  That was a close one.

As a follow-up to this lesson, we reviewed is and has as well as the describing words, and then I gave them what I call 'sentence strips' -- a sentence that has been cut up word by word.  Working in teams of two, they had to solve as many as they could.  I used the target vocabulary, and made lots of silly sentences.

One group of girls called me over with squeals.  They were working on the sentence "Jessica is a little bit chubby and very, very silly."  They waved a yellow card that said "chubby" toward me.  "Don't chubby!  Don't chubby!"  "Eh..." I said, but they wouldn't budge.  This made the sentence very difficult to complete, but they refused to call me chubby.

What was meant to be "Giraffes have incredibly long necks but people do not" turned into "Giraffes have long necks but incredibly people do not"  -- hah!

Tomi and Lotti built sentences with such enthusiasm.

Robi and Daniel.

 Dora and Reka.  I never expected these two to get so into a lesson.

They started to mix the sentences to create new sentences, and even added words of their own!

It's great to have an ESL lesson that is so successful.  I am planning to modify this by making "parts of speech" sentence strips, which will be color-coded by nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. and students will have new challenges.  We can practice verb tenses, making lists (when to use commas, when to use 'and'), the order of describing things (like long blond hair), or even competitions to make the longest, silliest, or most alliterative sentence.

Yay teaching!

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