Friday, June 3, 2011

Canada Project

 As the only Canadian at this highschool I am expected to teach my students not only my Canadian accent (ooo ahh, or as one teacher put it "the accent that doesn't sound like an accent", I guess compared to all those U.K. accents I do sound pretty accent-less! :P), but also a little about Canadian culture and history.
When my senior teacher asked me to create a Canadian project for a bunch of gr. 7s (around 11-12 years of age, with 2 years of good, solid English instruction, and another 4 years of "hi, my name is, how are you, I am fine thank you etc etc), I immediately thought about a project my old TESL instructor had made. Click here to look at what she made! For those of you who don't want to read it a quick summary: The project was made for intermediate level students of the George Brown College ESL program in Toronto. It deals with Canadian holidays, the students are expected to research Canadian holidays, and famous Canadians in order to create their own Canadian holiday. The students are given websites to do their research, tables to fill out, and instructions on how to give a presentation to their class.
The project seemed ideal for the German students as it would allow them to learn some new things about Canada, and allow them to use a new learning platform....the internet! Or so I thought in the beginning...more on that later.
Now, I had been in a few different gr. 7 classes, and they are all different, as you probably know you can't just say "Oh, gr. 7 they can do this, this, and this", although many administrative policies/language companies like to say all their students at such a level can do all these skills perfectly (ha!). After looking at the project I thought that perhaps the websites provided would be above the level of the gr. 7s, so I decided to create my own Canadian Holiday website.
First, I had to decide which Canadian Holidays to include and which ones not to, I finally decided on one a month. Then I got some pictures (from google) to make the students think it was a real website. Click here to visit the website!
All right so once this was all in place I went into the classroom!!!
The timing worked out quite well, as it was March 31st. To lead up to our discussion about Canadian holidays we got to talk about what tomorrow was, first I got answers like: 
'Friday', or 'Friday April 1st'.
So then I had to try to get the students to think more about it, what kind of a day is April 1st? Do you do anything special on April 1st? Finally they got it!
"April 1st is April Fool's Day! You can play jokes on people!" (which from what I can tell is not actually as big in Germany as it is in Canada, but the kids knew what I was talking about!)
Then was the big question so April Fool's day is a special day, are there any other special days coming up?
Then finally: "Easter!"
And from Easter we went to holidays, and then once we described some German holidays I asked if they remembered where I was from.
phew. After that it was almost smooth sailing, I explained what I wanted them to do: Get into groups of 3-4, each member of the group would get one hand out (see below), and they had to fill it in using this website (designed by me, made by my lovely husband!).
The kids then got to work...more or less. The class periods are only 45 mins here and we only had so many computers (i.e. not enough functioning ones :S), eventually I told the slower groups to start splitting up the holidays (one person did Easter, one does Labour day etc...) just to make sure they got all the holidays down! The groups that were unable to use the computers had to do the normal classwork of the day reading a story and answering comprehension questions...

After our day in the computer room came the new excitement: Design your own Canadian holiday!
Before this period the students were expected to come up with ideas for a holiday. They had to come to school with at least three ideas for a holiday, and some pictures.Almost every group did this, and we had some pretty interesting holidays: nature day (spend the day outside with your family bbqing), fun day (kids get in free to amusement parks), fish and chips day, döner day, and pet day to name a few. I should also mention that before we let them work on their holiday design the students were reminded that they would have to present their holiday to the class. To make sure they were ready for the presentation we did a quick chart of :) and :( presentation ideas.
:) presentation ideas were things like: memorize what you want to say, don't look at the ground, speak loudly, etc.
:( presentation ideas were: reading from your notes, (audience) making noises/not listening, etc.

In their groups the students decided what they wanted to do for their holidays and then made their posters. Then the actual teacher of the class gave me a great suggestion for how the kids could present their posters. We would make it like a museum or art gallery. Each group would have a station in the room where they would have their posters. Then one or two group members would stay with the poster and give their two min presentation to their classmates, while their other two group members were listening to another group. So each group member had to give their presentation at least ten times. It sounds complicated, but works surprisingly well. We also had the students write down one thing they liked or found interesting from each presentation.

Anyways, that was a pretty long post, but I hope it gives you some ideas for your own projects!

The handout the students got to go along with the website:

The Canadian Government is looking for a new Holiday!

The Canadian Government is having a contest! They want a holiday in June and they want suggestions about who or what to celebrate and also what day it should be celebrated on.

In groups work together to create a poster describing your holiday suggestion. The poster must contain the following information:what the name of the new holiday is, when it will be celebrated, and also how they will celebrate it.

Names of group members:

First go to the website, then fill out the table below. Remember to use full sentences!

Name of Holiday When is it? How do Canadians celebrate it?(3-4 sentences)

So I don't know what happened here with this chart...but I can always send you a copy if you would like....or feel free to make your own....

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