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Posts Tagged ‘4th grade’

Decidedly lowbrow

Dick jokes, everybody.  That’s where this post is headed, just so you know.

It started innocuously enough in my younger class, when I showed them an infected bug bite on my hand and they alternately recoiled and tried to fix me.  One boy Jay said, “Teacher, you have to — this — and on it, and it will okay.”

It was hard to recommend a good correction for this sentence.

As a sidebar, this is pretty typical of communication with many students: there are lots of gestures for unknown vocabulary and decent connecting language.  It could be worse!  To resume, “this” was peeing on the bite, and to drive the point home, a few other boys had to jump up and demonstrate as well, illustratively grabbing their crotches.  One added (or was it Jay again?) that his sister had told him so.

Then I had my second class which was wonderfully responsive and breezy, although I was feeling a little feverish from the room’s heater and the bug bite.  Afterward, I graded homework where I found the two gems in the pictures.

This was a translation exercise, and it should read "My little brother really doesn't like cockroaches." Suffixes are so important.

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Last evening’s class was adorable. One kid I’ve fretted over since I started with his class in level one was remarkably responsive and so outgoing that I almost couldn’t believe it. He came right up to me during a patterns practice exercise, and even though he didn’t have the pattern down, I was able to practice with him one-on-one.

Even though there are 20 kids in this class, it’s starting to develop a real comfortable atmosphere. It’s a joined class of about eight originals, nine or ten kids from my old Kids Club class, and a few new ones. It took a while for them to get to know each other, but it’s coalescing and I have high hopes for this class. They really enjoy the singing and I actually find myself having fun playing it up with the dance moves.

One of the new kids is also the oldest one in the class, and he has the most confidence and spunk of all the students. The grammar point of the lesson was the object pronouns it and them, building from him and her in the previous class. To introduce it, I asked them if cookies was a boy or girl, and this kid answered “bogirl.” He’s a character.

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Ell-o See

Homework for my students usually includes a listening comprehension component (LC), which I think is a good thing.  The assignments for the lower levels often require drawing and this is my best source of amusement at work.  I also think this is a good thing.

I present to you “My Family,” a tragic tale of a cool but unhandsome dad, a pretty mom, the homework-writing child, and an ugly, ugly sister.

That poor girl. That poor, poor girl.

Most of the kids had trouble expressing the ugly dad (which is possibly a little sweet), but after a brief reminder, Herman came through like a champion.  My favorite part, though, is the sister.  Her facial expression is amazing: so full of resentment and rage at her hideous looks and the dress she’s been forced into.  I also like how the mom is rocking a slightly aboriginal outfit (this is my guess, since the original dad’s outfit looks a bit similar).

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A new language

Today, Brian, one of my noisy students, was babbling like a loon when everyone else was speaking English. When I asked what he was speaking, he had no answer, so I said it wasn’t Chinese, it wasn’t English, it wasn’t Taiwanese and it wasn’t Japanese, so I didn’t want to hear it. A minute later, after everyone had moved on, he came back with “Teacher, it’s Brianese.”

Impressive!  I had to tell him that it wasn’t Brianese class, but he took it well.

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I love Tuesdays.

I used to despair over my earlier Tuesday class (earlier generally means both younger and earlier in the day, although my Tuesday classes are about the same grade level for the most part), but then I got a new student who brings up everyone around her and the serious ADD kid is coming under control.  I started playing more active games in that class to get some energy out, and it’s especially appropriate because we’re learning about outdoor activities (snorkeling, surfing, playing hockey, ice skating… parascending?!) and it’s fun to act them out as they learn.

The later class I’ve liked from the start, or at least from the day they were Team Superman and Team Joker.  They are full of energy in the best possible way, and seem to have decent English.  My co-teacher in this class rules with an iron fist, so I always grade well-spaced and tidily written homework (for the most part), although when she subbed in for the earlier class’s CT, I was not as impressed with her work.  I think she does better with the higher levels… or she was having a bit of the same shock I had with my early class!  To be fair, they did abysmally on an assessment (vocab is their strong suit, verb conjugation is not).

One of my favorite kids in the later class is named Ernie, and he’s the one who always advocates for superhero/villain team names.  After one of my first classes with his group, he showed me his Batman sandals and I was appropriately complimentary.  When this class had oral tests recently, I decided to wear my Batman shirt, which he used to ask me a great question when it was his turn: “Do you like ….the… Do you like adventure movies?”  I was very pleased, and apparently he was too, since now, whenever I see him outside class, he shoots me with some finger weapon.  Today, I introduced him to grenades by throwing one to him and killing him.  When he recovered, he followed me to the office and asked, “Teacher, what’s this?” [mimed hand grenade].  What a fun mini-lesson to be able to say, “That’s a grenade, Ernie.  You pull the pin and BOOM!”

He learns quickly, because he dodged the next one I threw him and let it take out Teacher Jennifer and the copier.

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These past two days have been a little surreal: it’s starting to get hotter, and for the past two nights, I haven’t been able to sleep more than 30 minutes at a stretch.  Fortunately, I’m not feeling terribly tired, but the despair that comes from not sleeping is pretty irritating at 4am.  My plan for tonight, if the heat, heat-induced bug bite sensations, and actual bug bites continue to prevent sleep, is to go walking or running when there aren’t people around to gawk, then soak in a bath and watch TV and movies.  The bugs don’t bite during the day, so I’ll just sleep tomorrow.

I didn’t expect today to be an amazing day at work, but it was remarkably good.  As I was walking to my first class, one of my other Kids’ Club classes barreled up to me and shoved small gray things in my face.  “Teacher, TEACHER!!!!”  I have never felt so old, because I had to grab the girl’s arm and move the object back before I could even see that it was something like a shell.  The way they were carrying on, I thought it was a bug, but it turned out they all had hermit crabs, and once I figured it out, I asked to hold it, at which point I yelled in pain a few times, which they didn’t believe but still seemed to like.

My first class is full of smart and quick kids who are very eager to please, and so it’s always a fun way to start a Thursday.  My second class is usually more stressful because they are older, more numerous, unenthusiastic and have problems.  Two or three girls could be diagnosed brain dead, I think, and one boy has ADD and I’d say his seatmate should be tested too.  However, two weeks ago, a number of them were absent and because of the story we were reading, I was able to work in a ghost story (if you’re wondering, it was the “Now I’ve gotcha, now I’m gonna eatcha!” booger one) with the lights turned low.  I tried to tell it with a lot of repetition, as it’s meant to be told, but also so they could understand more clearly, and I think the humor of the story and the break in routine shook them out of their stupor a bit.  Last week, a number of kids were absent again and we had a review lesson for their upcoming test which made it easier to focus on individuals, and this week was the start of a new level which always feels promising.

I’m looking forward to the weekend as well, since I’ve got a Cinco de Mayo party on Saturday and another dragon boat practice on Sunday, not to mention PAYDAY on Friday.  Fun times!!!

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I have now met all of my classes, and I can say that I have only two that require a significantly larger portion of energy or attention.  Now, I’m definitely not at the stage where I can waltz in 5 minutes before class and prep in my head, but I am not nervous to the core anymore each time I walk to a class.

One of the classes that will take an especial focus is my second-oldest class, probably 4th to 6th graders if the grades run like they do in the US.  These kids are not particularly rambunctious, and that’s actually part of the problem.  They’re a bit apathetic and don’t speak up readily or well.  For a class that’s supposed to focus on all aspects of English, this is a pretty big problem.  I think the best fix here is figuring out what kind of games and interactions they like and focusing on those so they want to to participate.

The other class is younger, so it’s easier to get them to play games and know you’re not insulting their adolescent pride, but there’s a restless child, a tattletale, and a cheeky-borderline-naughty one.  If they aren’t handled, the rest of the class won’t get a proper amount of attention, and that’s not fair, since there are some pretty good students.  I have a really good co-teacher/Chinese teacher in this class, so I’ll see what she has to say about those kids in particular and the class in general.

Oh, and remember Poo-poo King?  I think it might not just be in fun; I think he’s unpopular and I am not sure what to do.  Clue #1: Referred to as Poo-poo King at the start of the second class.  Clue #2: Another kid tripped him, very possibly on purpose.  Clue #3: Never has a speaking partner, even though he and his deskmate are the easiest and most obvious choice for each other.  Something to talk to that CT about, I suppose.

Let me end on a positive note: my Saturday class was a joy, especially considering they were in school on a Saturday.  Bravo, C2!  There were some excellent participators, especially in the back rows.  This is great, because it means they draw my attention to the back of the class and I don’t have to remind myself to do it.  Another reason I think I’m going to enjoy this class is that they’re just starting a level, so I’m not jumping in in the middle of a unit.  It makes me feel less like a sub and more like a teacher.

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