Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sometimes You Have to Change the Rules

I have not studied child development or psychology. I have very little experience with children (emphasis on very) and it's been a long time since I was a child. As a result, what I think will happen in my children's English classes doesn't always go as planned.

The students in the older class are very shy. I've been told that this is not unusual for Japanese children of this age. One girl always has the deer in the headlights look.  I don’t call on her first, letting her hear someone else answer before she does. They recently had occupations as vocabulary so I planned a review activity that incorporated speaking and listening. I paper clipped a vocabulary card (picture and word) to the back of each student and instructed them on asking each other questions to try to guess the occupation on their own backs. I verbally gave them examples, like do I wear a uniform, do I work in an office, etc. No one spoke. We had to change the activity to individually asking the question to all the other students and my prompting on the questions. It wasn't a complete disaster but it wasn't what I planned. This week I tried the activity again with more structure. Fruit was the topic and I wrote questions on the white board, such as am I yellow, am I red, am I small, am I sweet, etc. I also paired them and told them when to switch partners. It worked better than the last time.

The five year olds have no concept of shy. Our vocabulary words last week were school supplies-ruler, pencil, glue stick, etc. Instead of sitting at the table going over the cards, they wanted to run around the table. After asking twice to sit down, I could see that wasn't going to work. I had to change the activity. I fanned the vocabulary cards and when the student ran by me, he pulled a card. If he could name the object on the card before he ran by me again, he kept the card. If he couldn't, I named it and had them repeat, then it went back in my pile to be pulled again. Sometimes you have to change the rules.

They constantly surprise me with how much they know.  One of the school supply vocabulary cards had “map”, with a picture of a world map.  I pointed out the United States and told them that’s where I’m from and one of the little boys said “That's where Obama lives”!

I finished my little bag from the Quilt Show class.  Here’s the front, back, inside, and with the draw string pulled. I like how it turned out and might make another one, maybe a little bigger.

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