It’s only 1:30pm and I’ve already had a fantastic day. I’ve taught two second (8th) grade classes and one first (7th) grade class, all in a row, and all surprisingly cooperative. I was dreading coming to school today because exams are over now, and I was told that for the next three weeks the students will be very difficult to manage. Basically, the kids here are focused on test prep, and if there’s no test to prep for, there’s no focus. (Why the final exams are this early is completely beyond me.)
I had been planning on teaching some movie vocab to the second graders this week (plot, setting, character, etc.) since I’d done a filler worksheet on it after exam review, and there seemed to be some interest. I was completely blown away by how into it they were. We talked about genre, directors, favorite scenes, favorite actors, and then outlined some of their favorite movies on the board. For example:
- Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Romance, Comedy
- Setting: New York City, Now
- Characters: Peter (star), MJ, Green Goblin, Grandfather, Grandmother, Goblin’s Son
- Plot: spider bite, get powers, grandfather die, so sad, get girlfriend, fight Green Goblin, Spiderman wins
- Favorite Scenes: kissing scene (had to teach them “upside down”), holding bus, WWE, flying
The highlights were one student who NEVER speaks requesting the movie 8 Mile and carefully outlining the entire plot (since he was the only one who had seen it), and one class working together to list every single character from Harry Potter. I’ve decided that next week we’re going to watch a short movie, or part of a movie, and then they will outline it (maybe in groups, if I’m feeling brave) using their new vocabulary. They have completely earned a movie day.
The first graders were the ones who really surprised me. This class is the one that I’ve complained about before. They are usually completely uncooperative, especially the ones who speak well. To top it off I couldn’t really think of anything exciting to do, so I went with a lesson that a foreign teacher from another school told me about. She read her students “Snow White” and then had them finish the story. I was skeptical, especially about my kids, but I was out of ideas, so I took a shot. I wrote a short, simplified version of “Little Red Riding Hood” that stopped just as the wolf said “MY TEETH ARE BIG SO I CAN EAT YOU!” (”all the better to eat you with” might have gone a bit over their heads). I chose a student to read each paragraph and we talked about the meaning and checked for comprehension (when I asked what a “wolf” was they all howled at me…so, so good). Then they divided into groups of four and finished the story. A few even had illustrations that I really wish I could show you. Here are some of my favorite endings so far: “Little Red Riding Hood screamed and ran outside…”
- Suddenly, her grandmother is open the wolf’s stomac and she take AK-47. So wolf kneel down to grandmother and wolf said “grandmother…I’m so sorry but I love you…” and wolf see Little Red Riding Hood take bomb. And wolf so surprise. And she said “We’re legend” and BOMB!!!
- She takes a gun and she shots gun to the wolf but wolf take a shild so wolf came to her and wolf slap her face and wolf said “are you crazy? I don’t eat you!” She said “I’m sorry!” but wolf eat her but she cut wolf’s head. So wolf is dead. Finally, she shots to the wolf. Wolf go to heaven. The end.
- Little Red Riding Hood ran in the forest. She saw to chase a wolf so she ran more fast. Suddenly, she saw wood cutter over there. “Help. Help. Wolf will kill me. Help.” Little Red Riding Hood said. “Yes.” wood cutter grasp ox [axe] then he hit a wolf head.
- Why is a wolf eating Little Red Riding Hood? He kill grandma.
- But wolf catched her. By the way wolf crush at the first eyes ["first sight"] to her. So they got married and have a good time.
How great is that? I am incredibly pleased. There was one little creeper who had the wolf “falling on her and he say ‘trust me’ ” but the rest of his group very vehemently opposed it.
Now I only have one class left to go, but I’m not the lead teacher. I’m kind of excited to go, because I heard that one student from this class was caught cheating during his last exam, and I want to see who it was. I’ll admit, I have my suspicions. I kind of feel bad for him though, too. His academic life is over and he’s only in 7th grade.
[Edit: It wasn't who I thought it was.]