The first lesson

September 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last week the new school year started for me. This year I only have very few classes as I got stuck with a lot of admin work for the school. Still, it’s exciting to see old faces again and lots of new faces. Some of our kids have been coming for lessons for up to 5 years, so you have of course a kind of bond with them. Some asked why I wasn’t their teacher this year, but seem to accept easily to have a new teacher. One of my pre-teens classes I kept; they were beginners last year and it was fantastic to see how much they actually remembered.

We started off with talking about the summer. One of the kids I met at a circus performance he took part in and one of the girls actually chats with me sometimes on facebook, so it was nice to share with the whole class and I hope this will encourage all of them to take part in some ideas I want to try out this year with them.

As there are a few new kids in the class I had the ‘getting-to-know-you memory’ (see one of the previous post in this blog) activity prepared for them. I used the activity but gave it a nice twist. After they had put all their papers on the floor I told them to crumble them into balls. Then I asked them what they like doing in winter (and that in the last days of summer…). After they shouted out some ideas one of them came up with snowball fight. And that’s what we did; two groups opposite of each other (here it was boys and girls) throwing paper snowballs at each other. I gave them about three minutes for that. They loved it! Then we collected all the papers again, unfolded them and they started matching. I saw the snowball activity last year for the first time when I observed one of my colleagues (thanks Zdenek!) and it’s one of my favourites, as it is active, get’s them out of their chairs, it’s fun and fulfills the purpose of mixing papers for matching activities. I will definitely use it more often with them.

We then worked on classroom rules. They had to come up with rules they thought are important. This is the list they gave me:

Don’t speak Czech.

Don’t eat in class.

Turn your phones off.

Don’t be late.

Do homework.

I then marked the sentences with smiley faces and sad faces and asked them to tell me why I like some rules and don’t like the others. I actually had to give them a hint to look what’s similar in the sentences. It took some time but then one of the girls got the idea that I don’t like negative rules. So I put them into pairs and let them rewrite the rules so that they had the same meaning but were positive. After that they decided on the best sentences and made posters for the classroom. I have to thank Kat Kinsalla for this idea, as she was showing it in a seminar I attended some years ago. Since then I’ve used it in every group where I had to create classroom rules and it has always worked. It’s also nicer to look at a set of rules that are stated positively then having all these DON’Ts shouting at you, there are already enough don’ts in our lives.

Looking forward to my next class with them and will keep a record here of my ideas and the activities I’ll try out with them.

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