The Oscars Lesson
(One matter of housekeeping before we start. I accidentally just published a post that I was still working on titled “Things my students have said to me part 2.” So if you are an email subscriber, you might have received it. I’ve removed it from the site as it is not yet finished, but I just wanted to let you know that it was a mistake.)
The last time I came to you with a lesson it was my beloved psychiatrist game. Back in the good old days when I was still learning how to make lessons, and figuring out what the students like, this game was my savior.
But of course even now I can never guess exactly what the students will like or how a class will go, and this lesson today was a perfect example of that.
Today I started my, “2017 ~~ Middle School Oscars” lesson.
The idea came to me last night when I was reviewing my grade two lesson for this week and I decided that I hated it. I had planned to do some kind of poster thing about the environment but I know, based on the old papers all over the English classroom, that they’ve done something similar in the past. And to be frank my lesson itself wasn’t all that fun.
Their expressions for this chapter are, “You should ____.” and “I’m worried about _____.”
Often our two expressions for the chapter don’t really go together all that well, but I felt like these ones could very naturally be used together. Usually I’m not good at having them combine the different expressions we learn, so I thought I should give it a try.
My idea was to write a dialog. Simple. But I know, I knowww, that they hate writing dialog’s. So the question was, how can I trick them into writing a dialog in a way that will be fun and let them be creative and express themselves using English.
(Because that was the beauty of the psychiatrist game. It let them be creative and funny like they normally would be, just in English.)
And the idea I came up with was to disguise the dialog as a “script” that we will be presenting at the Oscars next week. (I’m ahead in the textbook anyway so an activity that spans two weeks is perfect.)(Also the Korean word for “script” sounds almost exactly like my name in English, so they get a kick out of that.)
I wasn’t sure if they would buy it because, as I’m sure you can guess, getting middle school kids to buy into anything is all but a miracle. But I thought it had more potential than the environment poster so I decided to go with it.
So 8:40 this morning rolls around and I walked into my first grade 2 class of the day not sure how it was going to go. As a side note, I’m a little sick from the transition to fall weather and my voice was completely horse which they thought was funny.
This class is particularly good so I wasn’t too worried. Because even when the lesson isn’t great they can still have fun. But my grade 2 lessons the past two weeks, I’ve felt, weren’t some of my better ones so I really wanted to bring them something fun today.
So we went through the power point and talked about the expression for the day, practiced it a bit, did the textbook listening and then it was time to introduce the activity.
Thankfully these were some my best boys so I had the confidence necessary to open my power point and tell them all, with a bit of gusto, “Welcome everyone to the 2017 ~~ Middle School Oscars!”
And that was the moment that it could have gone south.
If it had been my older kids, I can’t even imagine trying this. You know the phrase, “if looks could kill?” Yea, I’d be writing this to you from the dead.
But these boys, my lovely grade 2 boys, are amazing. And much to my surprise they all responded with a unanimous “Ooooo!” I started to explain the activity but there were still murmurs going around. My co-teacher then said, “They’re very curious about the Oscars part.”
The gist of the explanation is that they need to write a script. And you have to say script. Not dialog. Nobody wants to write a dialog, that’s the kind of thing in our textbook. But a script, that can be fun! (Apparently.)
So they have to write a script that includes the phrases, “You should” and “I’m worried about.” And every member of your group must speak. You can choose any theme, situation, place, and character but you must include those two phrases.
Then next week, we will have our Oscars ceremony and the groups will present their script. The class will then vote and we will decide who the Oscar (I literally just wrote the word “Oscar” on a piece of paper and they all loved it) goes to.
Framing this as a script was one of my better ideas as a teacher here so far. I’ve had them write dialog’s before hoping that they would write something funny or get a bit creative. But they can’t seem to see past the writing part. It’s always boring.
But telling them that it was a script somehow changed it completely. My first class did so well setting up their little script (title at the top, characters, setting, and script) that I used theirs as an example for all the classes after that.
I made sure to emphasize that they can make up any kind of situation they want. Even something crazy is okay. And again they have surprised me with the creativity. I’m only four classes into this lesson and already I’ve gotten scripts about American and Korean soldiers arguing about their salaries, a rendition of Jaws, a woman who’s worried about her husband cheating on her, and a story about why you can’t marry a gorilla. Even the class that I would say had the hardest time with it produced titles such as; A Happening in the Theater, The Third World War, and a very avant-garde Tomato.
One GIRLS group is including a fight scene, and one BOYS group is trying to get away with including a kiss scene. Watching them decide who would play those characters was a riot.
It will be a little while before we get to actually perform these because next week we are off for Chuseok, so I can’t yet comment on how the performance will go. But I’m optimistic, and either way it got them engaged this week and that’s worth it.
I’ll try to get back to you with how our “Oscar’s Ceremony” goes in a few weeks. But for now, this lesson made my day a little easier. So if you happen to also be a middle school teacher, maybe this could be useful for you. And if not, I hope you at least found it interesting! As always thanks for reading!
(Also, I’m going to Hong Kong on Saturday so get ready for some more travel posts!)