Greece, Days 5 and 6: All Kinds of Surprises

*This will be a combined post, as I was away without Internet for the weekend.

Lesson Plan 4

First Hour

  • (Teams) Sentences game: write as many sentences within a time limit given various prompts (ex. the sentences must contain  one or more of several words written on the whiteboard)

Second Hour

  • (Teams) Word Finder: scramble a bunch of letters on the whiteboard and have them form as many words from the letters available as they can

Third Hour

  • Writing task: have the students write about their favourite hobby and why they like it so much (Write cue on whiteboard: “My favourite hobby is…This is because…)

Fourth Hour 

  • Free time (not all of them want to play kickball anymore)

We’ve come to find that the first and second hours are our favourites, simply because they’re the smoothest and best of the three in which the students are inside. By third hour, the restlessness is tangible. We try to make the most of their attention by engaging them in what we tend to call our “vocabulary games”. That is, games that aim to expand and test the vocabulary that they know and how they use it.

First hour goes by well, but second hour is the smash of the day. Sonny created several scrambled letter combinations, but we were still worried with regards to how long the activity would take and whether or not they would get bored of it long before the hour was over. We’re surprised to find that we only need one of the combinations; the game gets extremely competitive, and the kids pull out words like theater and Athens. I stare, stunned.

About halfway through the game, a few of the kids start asking Luca something in Greek. I look at him inquisitively as he goes to the whiteboard.

“They want me to add ‘X’,” He says, shrugging. “Is that okay?”

“Yeah, why not?” I tell him, surprised and impressed that they’re able to think of words involving such a challenging letter. Theodosis goes up to the board, hunching over and giggling as he writes. I frown. Something is up. I lean in to see what he’s writing. S…e…

“Oh,” I hear Luca murmur.

“No, absolutely not,” I exclaim, snatching the marker and wiping the word away. I turn and stare him down. He meets my eyes, his gaze glinting with a mischievous spirit that reflects my own. I suppress a snort of laughter, putting forth my best effort to demonstrate maturity.

“Next person from this team,” Sonny calls, and I’m thankful that this little situation isn’t the centre of attention of the class. I try to think of what to say to Theodosis.

“That’s inappropriate. Yeah, don’t do that,” I repeat rather lamely, trying to act stern. He doesn’t look very convinced.

Writing activities in third hour are definitely not the favourite of the class, but it can be daunting to find alternatives. And besides, it’s nice to have a strictly practical component to the lesson plans that we devise. It gives us an opportunity to note what they’re capable of and what they’re struggling with, and give helpful pointers to improve their writing skills when needed.

When they come in for fourth hour, finding a consensus on the activity that they want to do is, again, quite difficult. Some want kickball, but not as many (!). A good chunk want to play basketball, led in large part by the student that aspires to be a professional player in the NBA. A few want football.

“Free hour it is,” Sonny and I announce to loud cheering.

Lesson Plan 5

First Hour

  • Chain Spelling: have the first student spell a word; the next student has to spell a word starting with the last letter of the previous word. Impose increasingly shorter time limits and offer a prize to the winner.

Second Hour

  • (Teams) Spelling Bee: call up a student from each team and give them a word to spell (offer definition and usage in sentence if they ask for it); student that spells it faster earns a point for their team (written or verbal)

Third Hour

  • Beep game: 1, 2, 3-beep-5, 6…; go around the class faster and faster until one student is left and offer a prize
  • Bingo

Fourth Hour 

  • Free time (not all of them want to play kickball anymore)

The Chain Spelling game is a real hit. We start out with a time limit of one minute per person and cut it down sharply with each passing round. Each decrease of time gets the kids riled up and really into the game. We eventually reach a ten second time limit; even the students that were eliminated are sitting forward in their seats, looking excitedly at the proceedings. The game goes up right until recess, at which point the last competitor is eliminated and our winner, Chrysa, is left. I present her with her prize- a pencil and a sticker- with satisfaction.

Second hour keeps the energy going, for the most part. Sonny and I notice a discrepancy between the two teams in terms of their collective proficiency at spelling. We start a new game after divvying up and rearranging the teams. The competition gets a bit closer, which is always nice to see and fun for the students.

For third hour, the Beep game is a disaster. Pro tip: if your translator doesn’t understand it easily, your students definitely won’t.

“Okay, we’re playing bingo,” I announce after several minutes of profound confusion and repeated attempts on ours and then Luca’s part to communicate the concept of the game. It’s good to have something to reliably fall back upon.

As for fourth hour, they know the drill. They don’t even come in, relishing their free hour outside. I’m sitting inside, writing, “supervising” the five or so girls that don’t want to go outside. They’re doing very well on their own devices, to be honest. They play bingo at first, and then move on to doodling on the board. They hum and chatter amicably amongst themselves. At one point, one of the girls-Marianna- comes over to me and gives me a quick hug. She runs off and rejoins her friends, not looking back at me. I stare after her, astonished.

“Bye. See you tomorrow,” They call to me in English as they’re leaving. I’m a little surprised, as they had been sitting at the back and hadn’t seemed especially engaged during parts of the day.

“Have a good day,” I reply, smiling. I shut my notebook and get up, looking around the room and cleaning up odds and ends. When I turn to the board, I see this:

2015-07-10 08.38.15


There’s no end to the surprises today. Keep’em coming, I say.


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