[Lesson Plans] Holiday Trees
This week, I’ve had students in both my schools again, but seeing how it’s right before Christmas break (and some of them have been out of school for a few days), even the normally well-behaved groups were off the walls.
It was my first time actually working with some of my students this week, and I ended up having them for 10 minute chunks instead of a half-hour, so I’d usually end up doing a little bit of intro stuff (what are your hobbies) and then do a shorter version of the lesson. I had hesitated to do a Christmas lesson, but one of my students specifically asked me to do one last week, so I decided to focus on a topic where I wouldn’t have to worry about laicete…
I made up a short presentation on the Rockefeller Christmas tree:
- I had a photo of the first Rockefeller tree with the date on it, which I would use to have them practice reading «1931». Some classes got it while others didn’t, so I’d review how to read the date, 100 vs. 1000, etc. if necessary.
- Next, I would tell them that a helicopter searches for tall trees (I would check that they understood «search» (which sounds kind of like «cherche») and would use «look for» with hand motions if they didn’t).
- I’d show them a slide of a tree that was being taken by a crane with the years «1931» and «2008». I’d explain that the tree was planted in 1931 and cut in 2008, and would ask them to tell me how old the tree was. They would sometimes struggle with the math and I realized while I tried to write it on the board that even I might have forgotten how to subtract by hand! I would ask them to tell me how old they were (“I am __ years old”), then use that to help them say that «The tree was __ years old».
- Then, I’d show them a photo of the Rockefeller tree now; some of them recognized it from Home Alone (which is called «Maman j’ai rate mon avion» (“Mom I missed my plane”) in French). I would ask them to guess how tall it is. For this, I’d go around the room and have them each take a turn to make sure they were all speaking. Depending on the class, I’d ask them to guess in feet and then tell them that it’s about 100 feet tall; I’d ask them to convert that back into meters to make sure they understood how tall it was (sometimes they tend to confuse 100 and 1000).
- I’d then ask them what happens to the tree after Christmas, reviewing “before” and “after” if necessary. They’d usually tell me that you could burn the tree, although sometimes they’d tell me that it could be recycled. I’d tell them that the Rockefeller tree is made into a house, and I would also show them a photo of a snowman mulching Christmas trees. They’d usually recognize the mulch as compost.
- Many of my classes ended up being shorter than usual this week, so I’d usually stop there, but for the classes with more time, I’d go a little further. I’d ask them if they knew the word «fake», which they usually understood as «faux». I’d then have them come up with pros (advantages) and cons for fake trees and real trees. Some students were amazing with this, and it was pretty cool to have them make complex sentences that included words like «authentic» or «aesthetically pleasing». In one class, a student even brought up that the fake trees are better for the environment, and we were able to talk about how they’re only better if you use them for 20+ years (and I think they actually understood!).
- I ended up doing a similar lesson about 20 times in one day, so to mix it up I had us just talk informally about random things like their favorite singers. One of them was really into Justin Bieber so when I told her that I’ve seen him before (long story…) she freaked out and turned all red, and one of the other students showed me a hat of hers that had the words «Belieber» on it with an infinity sign on it.
Overall, I’m pretty happy that my student got me to do a lesson on the holidays! It definitely showed me just how much they are capable of expressing in English and I was proud of them for pushing themselves.