From colors to "The Lord’s Prayer" from Sarafina to scary stories

Today I started my work at St. Xavier’s Boys College. I taught 11th grade students, 4th grade students, and a special group of “Fast Learners”. I admit fully that my strengths are not in teaching primary school students, and that is what I will be working on in the coming days.

I started the day helping a group of students refine their pronunciation as they acted the play, Macbeth. They will be competing in a drama competition in the coming weeks and wanted to work on their pronunciation. Liz came with me to help before she had to go to the primary school. I ended up missing my first class (11 C) entirely as the students and drama teachers took my full attention.

At second period, I went to teach 4B, a class of 4th grade students. The teacher left to take a break, while I was left to teach the students. I had no idea what they had learned or what they knew, what their receptive and productive skills were, or what they would understand or not. The teacher herself had limited English and when I asked a few questions, she could not answer me before she departed. With this group of students, I started by asking the students about favorite colors and then they were to write down lists of items that also had that color. The students with the most words would win a prize. They were then able to help one another in adding 20 more words. That team would win a prize. We learned about adjectives and nouns, and then the students were to write sentences using the colors as adjectives and the items as nouns. That proved to be the most difficult part. I am thinking that tomorrow, as a way of building on this foundation, I will work with the students to create foldables with adjectives, nouns, verbs, and adjectives. From there, we can build sentences, and then I am thinking that we will create scripts for Sock Puppets to enact. I wish I had regular brown paper bags for the students to decorate. They would be far more fun than the iPad versions that I have. Still, it will work for now and will teach the students some beginning computer skills.

Small note: I closed out each class by telling a story about a baseball game and asking questions of the students to make sure that they understood the story.

When I went into those classrooms, I had no idea where I would be going with this lesson. I had not done any backwards planning, but now, thinking about it, I think that would be a great way to go.

With the 11 B group, their receptive skills are generally good. They understood much of what I said, although some of the students seemed lost. The 11 E students wrote a short essay on how their days started. 11 B students did not seem to have the attention span for this and very barely got through this activity. It was also a larger class and students return to it after the “interval”, a break of 20 minutes. Needless to say, they come in all riled up with several of them coming in late. I will have to think on how to work with that group. It seems that they are interested mostly in songs, so I might teach through music and film. I am still thinking on the trajectory of this course.

I also worked with the “Fast Learners”. I told them my name, took their names and what they liked to do. I took a moment to look at what work they had done previously. I then told them a creepy story that my father told me once about a witch, a clown, and my grandmother. After this creepy story, the students had to write their own scary stories. Only one got the idea of a scary story. Most wrote and then shared stories with morales. After this exercise, I asked the student to write a notice to their villages of the villain within their stories. This tied in with what they had last done in the class. The notices on pride, a bun thief, the Devil’s cave were some of my favorites. After this, I asked the students to return to their stories and circle all of the nouns and then write them as a list. After that, they wrote verbs for the nouns. For homework, they are supposed to finish their charts with nouns that also do those actions. We will be working on figurative language to enrich their stories with descriptive and colorful language. We will go back to their stories and rewrite them with the descriptive language. Next, we will try another topic, more serious in nature, perhaps on water conservation or diabetes in the community as these are large issues here. I will ask them to make their essays more descriptive using the same technique and that will be part of the time together. I think that our last day, I will probably teach them some songs.

Throughout the day, in the secondary classes, I’ve used music as a timer, letting the students know how much time was left by connecting the time for the activity to the time left in the song. I probably need to create a playlist of appropriate songs to use with the students.

Tomorrow I am teaching the primary grades again, 11 C and E, the Fast Learners, a 12th grade Math English class (I have no idea how that is going to work as when I asked the principal where they were in their work, he didn’t have a clear answer for me), and 10 E. 7 different groups of students. I am reminded of my work overseas when I had more that that in preps. I definitely haven’t done this one in a while, though, and definitely not in math, though I do understand that once one understands and can do/verbalize math in English, one is very much closer to fluency.

So tomorrow here are my plans for the classes:

11C: In these classes, I think that I will try using the lessons that were sent from the TESOL program at St. Mary’s on vocabulary, reading, grammar and writing for nonfiction news articles.

4B: Foldables on nouns and adjectives and sentences in preparation for writing a script. Perhaps, if there is time, some play with Sight Words 2, which is an app on the iPad. I have three iPads with me that students can use. I wish I had loaded my iPad with that app as well. I also have a story, Giant and the Storybeans to use with the students.

4C: Foldables on nouns and adjectives and sentences.

11E: See above.

12th Grade Math English: We will be doing some word problems for this class. I think that I will have to create a Nearpod presentation for this class. I expect that it will not be a very large class. I have only 3 iPads. Hmm. Perhaps some stations? 3 iPads and instruction and then trig, algebra, and geometry problems or trig, algebra, and geometry problems first and then use of the iPads. I think that I can get between 3 and 4 on each iPad (9-12 students) with 9-12 students working on algebra 1, algebra 2, geometry, and trig problems. Hopefully, they are not on calculus. Even trig will be a HUGE stretch for me as I have not done anything in that subject for years and years.

Fast Learners: Tomorrow we will return to the charts that they were supposed to finish, talk about metaphors and similes, re-write their stories. I will then give them an essay topic, which has not been determined at this point. They will write their essays (I will teach them the five paragraph essay format) and then they will write. I will correct. We will go back to the nouns as a return to the lesson on descriptive and figurative language and then will then re-write the essay.

10E: I have no idea what these students can do. Perhaps I will just focus on teaching English through music. “In my life” as sung by Boyz to Men. I think we will learn the song, learn what it means, and then write a short essay about someone that is special in our lives.

So, for tomorrow, I have to prepare foldables: “The (adjective) (noun) is (adjective)” and “The (adjective) (noun) costs (number of rupees).” I will be preparing them for going shopping and producing a skit in the fourth grade. I also have to prepare a Powerpoint presentation for 12th grade Math to share between the ipads. I have to get construction paper for the foldables.


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