Yesterday my class made Halloween ghosts. Today’s group of students walked in to spooky paper spirits hanging from the ceiling. As I walked to the front of the room to start class my students chatted with each other and pointed at the ghosts. “No Chinese!” I reminded them as my partner, Kat stuck each students uniquely designed minions picture on the board. The class name, “Minions” had been chosen in collaboration with this fun and funky Chinese Teaching partner and myself. The little minions characters that represented each child in my class would move across the board in a race against time and each other. If all went well, and no child was banished to the “Monkey Zone” on the other end of the white board, then I would consider my class a success. Kat would have the honour of presenting every child with their “Happy English Dollar” which, they could redeem for prizes in our Happy English shop located in the parent waiting area. Besides each child’s row were three little tick marks. Every time a child spoke Chinese one line would get erased. The children would get to put their name into a draw at the end of a class, one name for every tick left on the board. Every two weeks we had a “speak English” draw. Kat studied each student with a goofy intensity as she added the lines to the board. My classes had become much quieter since I started the “No Chinese” draws.
I had come up with a brilliant plan to make our most boring unit, house, super fun. The answer was: The Sims! Everyone including Nate was a bit sceptical of how the game would translate to a smart board, especially since I was using The Sims 1, which, as far as I’m aware, had been designed before the touch screen existed. A few things were gimmicky, but it was actually a relatively smooth transition. The Sims was a great way to demonstrate concepts like “cook” and “eat” as I assigned the characters to tasks around the house.
What would a class nearing the end of October be without a halloween craft? During break I dropped a large stack of coloured paper on the back desk, along with markers, scissors, and a fresh package of sticky tack. I opened my prepared ppt. We’d been learning a few Halloween vocabulary words during our warm up each day. “What is it?” I asked pointing to the pictures on my slide show.
Melissa raised her hand, Alan looked eager, but nervous, but Victor yelled out “It’s a monster!” before I could call on anybody.
“It’s a monster door,” I said. The children were already divided into teams for other game purposes during the lesson. “Team 1 will make a monster door on the inside.” I explained walking to the back of the classroom and smacking my hand on the door. “Team 2 on the outside.” I pointed to the other side. I held up three fingers, “Three shapes for each Monster.” I made different shapes with my hands, a trick I’d learned from Nate. “Go.”
The teams were split as evenly as possible based on ability and age. Alan and Melissa’s team 2 had a template drawn and soon began working on cutting out the different shapes required for their monster. Victor, on team 1 was only concerned about the teeth. He started cutting triangles, while Pat, one of my youngest students, started working very intensely at drawing and cutting something. It took a long time for us to figure out that his little slivers of paper were to be claws. Well personally I think both monsters turned out beautifully, though after a good laugh Kat suggested we keep the door open during the parent presentation, suggesting that no one need see the inside of the door except our proud students.