As of late, interviews have my brain re-winding and churning out memories of examples to share for those various “Tell me a time” style questions. I’ve been reminded of my time in the classroom and thought why not share a successful activity that came about due to necessity when planning when out the window.
Playing teacher, often had me thinking and improvising on the fly and I’ll never forget those great moments of awaiting a new group of student’s, to share a lesson I previously had taught, storm into my classroom, throw their backpacks on the ground and slouch in their chairs, one eye closed ready to tune out the next hour. Except when this group walked in, I recognized the group from the week before and the only thought swirling through my head was “Oh shit, I don’t have a new lesson because I’m suppose to have a new group”.
Key word: Suppose to…
Instead of wasting time checking in with the teacher or sending them back, I proceeded with the class welcoming them and starting off with Question of the Day, a prompt I use for each class to get each students speaking English. The goal of the class is to get them speaking, anyhow and it bought me time to think up an activity with only the resources I had in my classroom; my laptop and a stack of dictionaries. Heaven forbid, the student’s have any inkling my plans have derailed and I’ll teach on the fly. There wasn’t time for any creative ESL searches but it was the perfect opportunity to give the student’s what they wanted; Music. Almost every class would end with questions of listening to music and why not make it today when I was in need of ideas and surprise them with their wishes?
- music player
Student’s write down as many words as they hear in English. Simple enough…
I’m not sure why but Eminem is in good standing amongst high schoolers in Spain. Within every group of 8 kids, there was always one student who asked me if I had any songs of his to play. So that was it. Today was their lucky day. They had to get out a piece of paper and pen/pencil and listen attentively, jotting down as many words as they heard by Eminem, “Lose Yourself”
Some students’ didn’t even bother to pick up their pen to write a few words down, claiming it was too difficult. I’ll admit his music is tough and if I had been given the equivalent in Spanish I may have questioned my teacher but I’d still try for the fun of it, especially since I repeated words to help them out. Some were fully immersed, excited to be listening to music in class. The goal after all, is to get their brains active by hearing English, albeit English rap, to get them started for the day. Afterwards some students wanted to hear more Eminem but I also knew I had to cater to the students who had given up before trying with easier songs. I played several and watched them put pen to paper. When there was still 20 minutes left of class, I had them work with a partner and compare their words.
Then I gave them a prompt: Write a story about anything using as many words between the two of you. It can be silly, serious, strange, stupid but they must write. Naturally they complained at first and then got into it. Then they had to do what most weren’t so excited about: Share.
One by one they shared their stories, mostly laughing at the absurd-ness of what they came up. I laughed along with them proud of their creativity within such a short amount of time.
The beauty of this activity is it combines listening, writing and sharing.
Would you try this activity? What music activities have you tried?
Check out other ESL activities: Playing Charades, Role Reversal, and Scattergories
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