Back to school

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Well, I’m back after extending my maternity leave to include my blog but after months of the full-time job of taking care of my little girl, I’m definitely ready to start teaching and go back to school. I don’t know how other teachers feel, but getting back into the classroom after an extended period is always a bit nervewracking for me. I get over this by making up a check-list that automatically gets me back into the routine and hopefully the kids too!

The first class is a perfect chance to:

– Check previous knowledge

– Review basic vocabulary

– Motivate and encourage to participate

– Show how classes are going to be organised in terms of groupings

– Give some language to “take away” (The Primary English Teacher’s Guide, Brewster and Ellis )

– Get to know your students and their preferences.

Here is how I have organised my first Back-to-School class:

Age

Young learners: 6-8 y.o.

Adaptable to other levels by simply changing the difficuly and content of questions.

Aims

– Check their previows knowledge

– Introduce themselves

– Asking /answering questions

– Keep a record of what we are studying/dealing with and individual preferences.

Language

– What’s your name?, How old are you? What’s your favorite…? What’s the weather like?

– Numbers, colors, weather.

Resources

– A photocopy of a flower on both sides of A4 paper, crayons, student’s photo (optional)

Procedure

* Practice/Drill with the whole class the questions above. This can be done by throwing a ball from one student to another asking their names, then move on to the age and so on.

Tip: Test their memories and make sure that they are listening to each other by asking every now and then, ‘What’s her name again? How old is Jorge?’

* Hand out the photocopy. Students cut it out, color the main petals with different colours and record the answers to the questions on one side and the actual questions on the other.

* Demonstrate in front of the class with a pair of students. Two students stand up with their flowers, encourage students to ask and answer the questions (if they need they can refresh their memory by looking at the back of their flowers.)

Tip: This is a crucial moment for shy students. If they don’t feel confident or secure from the start, the rest of the year’s speaking exercises are going to be difficult for them. Don’t force someone into the limelight if they aren’t ready for it.

* To end the class choose some pairs to demonstrate in front of the class, but now after completing the questions the rest have to remember the information and report to the others (as mentioned in the tip above, this gives them a reason to listen to the rest of the class): What’s her favorite colour?

* Post the flowers up on a bulletin board, this way we have our students’ information handy and we still have some petals left for other classes to record their favorite food, clothes or pets, thus recyling the language at a later date.

Flower pattern taken from: Festivals, Paul Johnson

As I mentioned before, getting back into the classroom is always a bit nervy for me, but a tried and true, well-planned class is the best way to get over those butterflies and set the tone for the rest of the year.

Best of luck to everyone this year!

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