Monday, November 5, 2012

Who is stronger?

Today marked the second day of my grade 6 lesson that I had been building toward over the last couple of weeks. The current chapter in our book deals with comparative adjectives ("My hair is longer than your hair", "My dad is taller than me", etc.) and I decided to get all nerdy about our cumulative activity at the end of the chapter.

On waygook.org (a foreigner-in-Korea teaching site that I somehow neglected until this year), I came across a useful idea. I would like to credit the person properly, but his or her posting seemed to have disappeared the following day, so I was left to do as I always do when I consider using postings (Powerpoint files, lesson ideas etc.) from another teacher - "adopt & adapt". Thanks, Ray.

Sadly, for me, quite often this means tailoring things things to my own tastes, which also means me volunteering a fair bit of my time building and redesigning material to make it work better for me. Sometimes, it's worth it - sometimes, it's really not.

Anyway, some waygook contributor had an idea to make cards giving various attributes to different animated characters - Bart Simpson and the like - and then print them for a duel-type card game where the focus language is used.

I decided to take this a step further and introduce Marvel and DC Comics to the grade 6 crew - six characters from each company - and expand the lesson by giving additional vocabulary (the noun form of the adjective: tall = height, etc.) before the game was played. This involved a rather obscene amount of preparation as I made 7 12-card sets - complete with colour printing and lamination. You can bet that I'll be getting some mileage out of these with winter and summer camps.

Anyway, of the 6 attributes listed on the card, teams of two take turns in a play round that works like this:

1) Each team chooses a set of cards (Marvel or DC)
2) The card piles are held as if to deal or duel - face-down.
3) Teams rock, paper, scissors to see who gets to ask the first question.
4) After a question is asked, each team turns over the top face-down card and checks the matching attribute to see who is more _________ than the other.

For example:

A student asks: "Who is taller?", the cards are turned, and we look to see which character wins when focusing on this one attribute. The weaker card is surrendered to the winning opponent's hand...

All in all, it was a lot of fun for the classes that were actually able to play the game. The hard part is, and this is a conversation for another time, the game was set for the grade 6  classes as it matched with their text book's focus. My grade 6 classes, save for one, are - when one considers the staggering majority of the students involved - unable to save themselves from themselves when it comes to maintaining anything approaching acceptable behaviour. My main co-teacher suggests that it is a sign of "The Korean School Collapse". I suggest it is a sign for me to stop putting this level of effort into activities that my grade 6 students' behaviour will not allow time for. For the one class (the homeroom teacher of which deserves some sort of "Teacher of the Millennium" award), the game worked to perfection. For 3 out of the other 6 though, we didn't even have time to play the game in class. I'm just not liking those odds. Time to simplify for this crowd.

For a few of my more "challenging" groups of students, I had to give a speech about taking care of the cards as opposed to bending them, throwing them at each other, or using them to scratch each other's forearms  to draw blood, or to clean under their finger nails. It was a good thing that I thought to count the cards when they were returned to me as one student thought it would be a good idea to abscond with Iron Man. I noticed the missing card, went to the student I suspected, and he shrugged as his friend removed the card from the guilty party's pocket. I wonder how much he thought he could have made for it on ebay.

On the plus side, my wonder class had enough time with the instructions and game to take it to another level - making little tournaments among neighbouring student pairs and having a rollicking good time of things. Three other classes were able to achieve something resembling order with the game, but had precious little time with which they could actually play. Live and learn.

Highlights:
  • Watching students win over any other character with the Professor X card because his intelligence is off the charts.
  • Giving attributes to these characters I know and love and trying to make the game fairly balanced. It meant short-changing the Hulk on intelligence (hey, he's not Bruce Banner all the time) and giving Barbara Gordon a little something over Dick Grayson. She is rather bookish, so let it be the smarts. Batman got a little short-changed in a few areas. Dems de breaks
Biggest Challenge:
  • Finding a google image of Catwoman appropriate for the elementary school classroom.

4 comments:

Tuttle said...

So this looks really good to me! Sadly, in our book, we've already passed the comparative adjectives by. However, there is a review in early February, from what I gather, so maybe I could steal these materials from you...

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

Certainly - I would be happy to see the cards get some more use. I'll send you the PPT file and we can arrange a date for me to give you the prepared cards - there's no need for anyone else to develop that close a relationship with a laminator.

Rock Steady said...

So glad you're blogging again! :D

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

It's a lot easier to blog when I'm away from the great majority of those close to me. I just assume that enough people will be curious about my day-to-day. I mean - I'M curious about my day-to-day :)