In the summer of 2011 I flew to Norwich to participate in the course "Literature in the Language classroom". (I might have mentioned it before...)
It was a very rewarding course and it later led to this project:
While teaching 5th graders I decided to put in practice some of the techniques I had learned in the course and so I developed a project based on the story "The Old House". It is a mystery story that comes with the student's book: "Way to go". Usually the so called extensive reading is left behind because the curriculum is extensive enough to get us busy for the entire year, but when we think about extensive reading as another way to teach the curricular topics, it comes handy.
The students read and explored the story in class with my help, and after that they actually built the house which was the central part of the story.
Was it also an arts project? Yes, of course it was!
The funny thing is that in order to build the house right they had to understand the story well...
This led to some nice conversations among the students as they were arriving school with their wonderful projects. "The house was yellow, not green!" ; “ It had two floors, not one!” or " It is too beautiful, it should be ugly because it was an old house"... and this went on and on until the day the school's director and the teacher responsible for the library (where the exhibition was held) had to decide which house was the winner.
Yes, it was a contest! With prizes!
It wasn't mandatory, maybe that's why kids were so engaged. They weren't working for grades; they were working for a prize.
I really recommend this kind of projects because they:
- get students engaged in learning;
- get parents working with their children at home;
- allow kids who aren't that brilliant at languages to show their teacher that they are much better in arts;
- allow interactions with other places at school rather than the classroom;
- boost students' self esteem (by watching their work at the library's spotlight);
- create a much better image of the English lessons and for that reason = MOTIVATION