Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Niida Shougakkou - Class Summaries

This is my first shougakkou English class recap. Hopefully I can consolidate lessons, activities and ideas from these summaries over time.

Period: 2
Grades: 3-4 (8-10 year olds)
Number of students: 19

Greeting and warmup
"Hi, how are you?" > "I'm fine." After the initial greeting, I asked each child in the front row, and had them turn to do a greeting with the student behind them, and so on to the back. This is a good way of getting individual responses and engaging with the kids from the start.

Animals and directions.

Activity 1: Animals at the Zoo
We had both this and the fourth period class in the gym, at the school's suggestion and my acknowledgement. It makes activities with this many kids a lot easier.

I wanted to mix a couple of things together today, that involved both animal names and giving and reacting to spoken directions. I started off by introducing Left, Right, Forward, and Back, and had the kids repeat them a few times before singling out random kids to respond and then testing them again together, speeding up until they were able to react well.

Once I was confident they could both say and listen to directions, I introduced the 12 animals I would use for the activity. Once I had them all up on the board, I asked them where you would find these animals together (I chose to use a little Japanese here to explain). None of them could get it, so I wrote the word Z-O-O up on the board. Usually with something like this you will have at least one person who clicks. It took a few seconds before one student called out "doubutsuen!" (zoo in Japanese).

While the teacher went to get a blindfold, I took my A4 animal cards off the board and had the kids stand at one end of the gym. I then went over the directions again and had them turn and move until everyone could do it. After that, I placed the animal cards in random places, spread across the floor of the gym. It was then a matter of choosing a volunteer to blindfold and having the rest of the kids call out directions to each animal that I chose.

It was noisy and fun and I was pleased with how the activity went. The entire period was spent having the kids yelling out directions and finding animals. This activity works well in any size group. The more kids, the louder and more confusing - and therefore fun - it will be. But even with just a handful of kids you can still have a boatload of fun. I have used the compass points (four, then eight) as an introduction to this game with a smaller group and it worked really well too. You can be more focused with a group of 5-10, with more specific directions, and in a larger group you can just let them go crazy because everyone is involved.


Period: 3
Grade: 6 (11-12 year olds)
Number of students: 9 (supposed to be 12; 3 were absent for that period)

Greeting and warmup
We skipped a warmup and went straight into the lesson after a brief greeting. For the senior primary school kids, there is a greater balance between their teacher leading the class and the ALT's involvement. This is especially workable with the use of Eigo Note 1 and 2, the 5th and 6th grade students' activity books that we use for these more focused English lessons. With the younger kids, the ALT tends to very predominantly lead the class, so a lot more preparation is necessary.

Today's focus was on the months of the year. We worked from Eigo Note 2.

  • Repeat after me: students repeated the names of the months in English as I placed them up on the board.

  • Listen to the CD - a rhythmic chant: 12 months. We did this a few times.

  • Listen to the CD - festivals activity: where and when are Christmas, New Year and Halloween celebrated? They worked in groups of three for this.

  • Keyword game: a very handy device for any lesson. Students place an eraser between them and their partner. A keyword is place on the board and I will say the lesson's related words. If I say the keyword, the first person to grab the eraser wins that round. The second stage is where one student forms a mouth (like a crocodile) with their hand and their partner places their fingers, palm facing down, in the mouth. If the keyword is called, SNAP!

  • Repeat after me: students repeated the days of the month (first, second, third... thiry-first).

  • When is your birthday? Students worked out when their birthday was (March twenty-first, November eighth, etc), and reported back to the class.

Structured lessons like this are very easy. You just have to engage the students as best you can and allow the teacher to lead the lesson. Teachers have a lot more confidence when there is a textbook that is written in their native tongue, and the students are happy with the structure of the lesson and the physical presence of having a book to work through. Chanting along with a rhythm on the CD, filling in the blanks and the keyword game are all good activities that work better when the kids and their teacher have become familiar with the material. In the second term, as we are now, there is no need for the home teacher to explain very much anymore, and you can focus more on interactivity and enjoying the lesson.


Period: 4
Grades: 1-2 (6-8 year olds)
Number of students: 17

Greeting and warmup
  • "How are you?" > "I'm fine."

  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: Children don't need to remember the names of body parts but they are always enthusiastic about doing this song. It is a great warmup and even more welcome as the weather gets colder. I start off by getting the kids to repeat each body part as I touch it (head > nose). We then start off slowly and build momentum until they can't keep up and half the kids fall to the floor in fits of laughter. :)

English songs

Activity 1: Old MacDonald Had a Farm
I introduced six farm animals along with their sounds. I knew that the kids knew the song already, so when we sang, I had them fill in the E-I-E-I-O parts, the animal names and the sounds that they make. I had written the names and sounds up on the board using katakana, the Japanese syllabary mostly used for foreign words and sounds.

Activity 2: B-I-N-G-O
After E-I-E-I-O was B-I-N-G-O. The kids also knew this song, so it wasn't difficult to do. I had them fill in the letters and the clapping.

Activity 3: Bingo
Singing B-I-N-G-O was a good segue to the game of bingo. We did animal bingo and played through it twice. I gave stickers to the winners of both rounds.

Choose songs that the kids are likely to know. Having a CD is great because music helps, but I tend to make do without. It was fun just singing and doing animal noises, and giving stickers to kids is always a bonus, as it feels like such an accomplishment to them.

And those were my lessons this morning. I'll try and summarise a lot more if I do future recaps, with basic descriptions of activities. I will file these lesson summary entries under the categories taught.



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