How does where I live affect my childhood?
How does the past influence the present?
In my family, my mom usually does the gift buying and giving, and my dad signs the card. But last Christmas, my dad went out on a limb and bought a present for all three of the grandsons, ages 6, 7 and 10. It was a little tin filled with old-fashioned games including marbles, pick up sticks, cards and jacks. Jake was curious about the games because he had not really played any of them before, but I wondered how much use they would get next to the iPad and legos he loves so much. In comparison, pick up sticks just didn't seem that exciting to me...
Fast forward to today as I was thinking about this post on childhood games, and I was trying to decide from which angle to approach the topic. A few weeks ago Amanda Hajji from LHS had shared some pictures with me of a game day she had with her Level 3 French students as a celebration of the end of unit 1 (Memories). She said, "Students brought in their own childhood games and childhood foods and we had a field day where they had to stay in the target language throughout the day. I taught them the expressions they would need to play boardgames and they just had fun playing with each other calling each other out and using the fun expressions."
As you can see from the pictures, students were having fun, even though they weren't on an iPad or playing a video game. In the same way, my son has actually loved playing pick up sticks! Who would have thought? It has been a fun time for us to spend together, and he is learning how to keep score and how to be a good sport. :)
Earlier this week I was at PHS, and Victoria Connelly and Katrina Wowaka shared how they had approached the same unit with their students in a completely different way. That's when I decided to showcase all of 3 of their students in this post.
Victoria's German students each picked a person of German descent and researched their life and their childhood. One student picked Anne Frank, and you can see pictures of a few pages of the beautiful book she wrote and illustrated herself.
Victoria also shared how a student from one of her other classes actually played the role of Peter in The Diary of Anne Frank at a local theater in Lexington, and how many of her students went to see it. She described it as a beautiful connection of German and international learning right here in Lexington.
Katrina's students also created books, but they wrote about their own childhood. Below are a few pages from one student's book.
I love all three of these examples because they involve students making personal connections to language learning. They also require students to produce language, and they all give students choices in what they do with the language.
I'm so proud of our students and teachers!
In case you're new, or haven't taught these units before you might be wondering, "HOW do I get my students to this type of creative language production and engagement with the topic and culture?"
Well, here are a few ideas...
To start the unit, you might do a close reading of some images of games from different cultures (like the ones at the top of this post, hint hint). Ask students questions like, "What questions do you have? What are you wondering? What else would you like to know? Where could you look to find answers?"
Here is a link for a Culturally authentic picture archive created by Michael R. Shaughnessy, who says, "As a language teacher and learner, I always seek to connect language, culture, and meaning. This site represents my interest to not only write about language learning, but provide concrete examples... "
You could also try this collaborative brainstorming and writing technique that teacher/blogger Rosalyn Rhodes shares about Telling Childhood Stories. She says, "I’ve been struggling hardcore with my one of my classes recently. They’re an upper-level class, and I feel like we’re doing the same style of thing every day, or most days at least. Their interest in conversation and authentic resources and real-life issues is not really that high, and I’m at the point where I don’t want to try because the class has a weird vibe and it’s stressful..." (Read more)
To practice past tense verbs, you might try some games. For example, Ana Micheli, who used to teach at CSMS had students practice past tense with the ball toss game. Students said, "When I was a kid, I used to _____________," and when they caught the ball, they filled in the blank with a verb in the past tense. The cool twist is that she had them with a partner. When the whole class game was over, they had to ask their partner about some of the things he or she used to do as a child. After this interpersonal activity, they then could volunteer to share with the whole class about their partner's childhood.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking, and below are a few more links that you might find helpful.
Zachary Jones has a lot of resources for Spanish, and Megan and Kara from the Creative Language Class
have a few fun Spanish resources as well.
I found this link to traditional Chinese games, as well as games children play in Russia and Germany.
This is a fantastic website for and by school children in France.
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)