Lesson Plan | Michael Jackson and Games with Sad Planet Earths
I finally called in sick for the first time this week, but my teachers were super nice about it (they even go so far as to try to get me more time off…what is this life?). When I went back in after, I felt pushed to the limit by a group of uncharacteristically uncooperative students, even though I almost always love the job and feel energized by it even when students are difficult. However, having other classes moonwalk and get really excited about telling me about environmental problems totally made up for it.
While I’ve been trying to avoid needing to take my laptop with me to class, I went with a lesson this week where I wouldn’t have to do too much speaking. A lot of students had been telling me that they liked music, so I decided to show them a clip of “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson and gave them a worksheet where they had to fill in certain words to keep them focused.
- I’d first ask them if they knew Michael Jackson, and they’d sometimes start moonwalking or singing or doing little Michael Jackson yelps, which was adorable. I’d ask who he was and where he was from.
- Then I’d explain that we’d listen to a song of his and that they’d need to fill in the words. If they didn’t understand, I’d hand the worksheet out and they’d usually get it.
- I’d ask them what the title was, which they usually didn’t understand, so I’d write “title” on the board for them and they’d get that it’s “titre.”
- I’d then start playing the clip for them (depending on how big the class was, I’d either have them watch it too or just black out the screen and have them listen). I would stop after each blank in the worksheet and ask them what the word was:
- Some classes knew what “rain” was, but for the ones that didn’t I’d draw a raincloud with raindrops on the board and they’d get it.
- Most knew “time,” but if not, I’d point to my wrist as if it was a watch.
- For “yours” and “mine,” I’d hold up a piece of paper and say “This paper is mine” then point to a student’s paper and say “This paper is yours” and they’d start saying “Oh c’est le mien et le tien!”
- Some knew “Earth,” but I’d draw it anyway if I hadn’t done so already.
- I would also sometimes have them practice spelling the words. They often tend to mix up “i” and “e,” so I’d have them tell me how to spell the word and write it on the board exactly as they were telling me. When they’d see that I was writing “e” instead of “i,” they’d then correct themselves.
- Then, I’d ask them if the Earth was “happy” or “sad” in the song. They’d say sad and I’d draw a sad face on the Earth. I’d ask why the Earth was sad and they’d usually say “pollution” and sometimes “deforestation.” If not, I’d draw a tree and mock cutting it down. I’d also ask what was happening to the animals and they usually understood the word “extinction.”
After writing these on the board, I’d set up the game (yeah, it was a little weird to be like “here’s all that’s wrong with the world…now let’s play a game!” But oh well.):
- I’d break them up into teams and, depending on time, give them a minute to think up a team name in English, which was often hilarious (one class had teams named “Little Biscuits,” “Predator,” and “Terminator”). Team “Winners” was also popular.
- I’d then explain that I’d give them a category and they would need to make a list of as many words as possible that they knew. For example, I’d ask them to tell me “10 animals.” The first team to have 10 animals would raise its hand and get a point.
- Usually they’d started already so I’d let them go and when the first team was done, have them take turns reading off the animals and give them a point.
- We’d then continue with other categories. I’d adjust this based on time and grade level, but here’s what tended to work:
- Animals (5-10): I’m pretty sure all the classes were capable of doing 10, even if in at least one case, students balked at it at first.
- Sources of pollution (3-5): Sometimes they’d hit on transportation (cars, trains, etc.) which made it easier for them, but other times, they’d tell me “nuclear centers” and even “CO2.”
- Objects that use electricity (3-5): They’d usually get TV, computer, laptop, lamp, etc. Sometimes they’d try to use PS3, XBox, PS2, etc. but I’d tell them they could only use one video game.
- Objects that can be recycled (3): This was sometimes a little harder, but they could usually get at least paper and plastic, and would try out “bouteille” or “verre,” so I’d ask them to describe it to me and then tell them “bottle” or “glass.”
- Types of weather (5)
- Depending on how much time was left, I’d recap with them and ask them to tell me why the Earth was sad, then ask them what could be done to make it happy again.
Thoughts: I generally like to make sure that each student speaks in a complete sentence at least once, which didn’t happen with this game, but they seemed to have fun with it and it was a great way to see what vocab words they already know. I also had one class where we didn’t have enough time to get to the game, so they went wild with telling me about all the different types of disasters in the world.