A Friday in an English Classroom

I love Fridays. Not only does it present the promise of the weekend around the corner, but it also is a self-imposed challenge that I’ve set myself. On Fridays, I try to think out of the box, include song and dance, games and fun. Not that the other days are dead boring, but you know what I mean. Sort of like a cheery green dress to the staid-but-classy whites and blacks of the rest of the week.

So here is a quick run through of what my last Friday was like. I had fun while I was at it, and from what I heard after that, so did the kids.

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM – Class 7, Prepositions

After revising what we had done through the week (nouns, pronouns, articles, conjunctions), we moved on to prepositions today. We learnt about how the connect nouns/nouns and nouns/verbs, and worked on example sentences. We wrote out ten prepositions on the board and asked every child to write at least three sentences in his/her notebook, with one boy even going up till nine. After everyone was done, I started off by throwing a sponge ball at one boy, catching him off guard and waking everyone up. The task was to read out his sentence and throw the ball on to someone else. The second child had to identify the preposition in the first sentence and read one of his own before passing the ball on. And this went on for about forty minutes. No repetitions, no yelling out answers and no dodging the ball. At the end of it all, we liked it so much we started making up impromptu examples to keep the ball in the air.

10:45 AM – 12:15 AM – Class 8, Parts of Speech

So we had spent the last couple of weeks running through the basic parts of speech – nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, yada yada. The task was to identify every word in a sentence and map it to the appropriate part of speech. For example, the monkey chattered noisily on the tall tree in the dark forest – article noun verb adverb preposition article adjective noun preposition article adjective noun. And instead of writing on the board and boring the life out of everyone involved, we played what the kids decided to call “minion basketball.” Place an empty dustbin on the teacher’s chair in front of the class. Read out a sentence and identify the word you want mapped. Throw the ball to one child, if the answer is correct, s/he can take a chance at shooting the hoop (so to speak). I cheated a little and went off on tangents with the sentences – if noisily is the adverb, what would be the adjective? The inherent desire to see the ball fall into the dustbin was enough to keep the ball rolling (flying?) for an hour and a half.

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM – Class 6, Proper/Common Nouns

We had a two-point agenda for this class. Not only did we have to revise what common and proper nouns were, we also had to prepare something to present in assembly next week. So we thought why not sing a song! Except of course before we get to the fun singing part, we need to write the lyrics, understand them, summarize them, read them out loud. Read them correctly, check pronunciation. Identify which the nouns were and what kind of noun each was. And explain why. And give examples. And then, we sang.

This land is your land, this land is my land,

From busy Mumbai to great Kolkata,

From Jammu-Kashmir to the Indian Ocean,

This land was made for you and me.

The Himalayas so high, there is water on the other sides,

In the forests so very green, many creatures lived peacefully,

Mighty rivers flowed through the sands, bringing prosperity to the land.

This land was made for you and me.

It was a song I had learnt in school and the kids enjoyed it. By tomorrow, they said they’d learn it up and get ready for the second half. On Thursday, we will be ready to perform.

2:45 PM – 3:30 PM – Class 10, Listening Skills

As the kids get ready for board exams in June, they have a paper that tests listening skills. So between now and then, not only do they have to become proficient with listening to the language, they also need to understand the British and American accents. And so, every Friday we try and do a listening passage. This week, it was the turn of a scene from English Vinglish. It was amazing to see the varied expressions that flitted across their faces as they saw Sridevi struggle to place an order at a Manhattan café, gawking when asked for her preference between cappuccino, Americano or latte, or whether she wanted her water still or sparkling. The kids saw the three-minute clip twice, asked me for factual clarifications on what life in the US was like (do they eat pizza? Do they call it a ‘mess’ or ‘hotel’?) and then set off to complete the story as they saw it panning out. I can’t wait to see what they have cooked up!

And that was my Friday.

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