Lesson plan ideas for the last few days of school (in China)
June 14, 2014 12:38 AM   Subscribe

Exams are done, grades are submitted, and we still have class? Yeah, I have up to 6 45-minute periods left with my grade 10 and 11 students next week that I would rather not fill with nothing but movies. I need ideas for something else to do with ~35 Chinese teenagers.

The students have relatively good English, but I'm not an English teacher and I don't really want to get into total ESL stuff as I expect they'll do that in their English class. They're in an international program, so keep in mind that they've got 4-6 foreign teachers trying to entertain them for four days, so simply showing movies is going to get old really fast.

I was thinking of something Canadian/American culture related, but other than making food, I can't think of much. Restrictions: I don't want to spend too much money (therefore cooking might not be ideal, and we don't really have the facilities anyway), I move to their classrooms so too much physical set up is unrealistic, and I don't want to spend hours doing prep work as I'm burned out after my first year.

Most class periods are actually double 45-minute periods, so 1.5 hours, but there are a couple single periods too.

I'll take any suggestions you have!
posted by sarae to Education (12 answers total)
What do you normally teach them? It doesn't sound like you're their English teacher.
posted by third word on a random page at 12:42 AM on June 14, 2014

Response by poster: I normally teach biology. We're done with content and honestly, researching for and preparing a lesson based on biology seems really daunting at this point in the year, especially because I know that 60% of my students won't care since they'll never be evaluated on it and they only take biology because they have to. It's kind of my backup plan (interesting biology stuff!).
posted by sarae at 12:48 AM on June 14, 2014

episodes of cosmos with Tyson.
posted by Mistress at 12:49 AM on June 14, 2014

English language karaoke? It's fun and useful, but not full-on ESL. You could find biology-themed songs. The first that come to mind are "Tapeworm of love" and "The birds and the bees" and perhaps "She blinded me with science."
posted by whatzit at 1:11 AM on June 14, 2014

Penny Arcade recaption contest?

Everyone fills out a few, then people vote for the best. Winner gets an icecream or something.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:34 AM on June 14, 2014

Best answer: DIY Pictionary could be fun. Here's a Pictionary word generator that allows you to choose the words you like in a list, and you could throw some vocabulary in from your lessons.
posted by taz at 2:14 AM on June 14, 2014

I know as well as anyone what it feels like to be burned out after year #1 of teaching - you have my sympathy. However, you're setting a pretty high bar if you want an engaging lesson with no equipment or prep time that is not a movie. Probably what fits your requirements the best would be board games or card games or that sort of thing.

I don't know your students, and I don't know you, but I'm going to go ahead and give you an idea that does need some equipment, but won't take too much prep. Who knows, it might just work for you.

Microorganism identification competition:

Day 0: Prep day for you

Students watch a movie or play board games so you have a day to get this together.

Day 1: Field trip sample collection

- Latex gloves
- Sample containers
- Sticky labels of some kind
- Marker for labeling containers

1. Divide students into small groups
2. Give each group a sample container and some gloves
3. Take the students on a walk to a nearby scummy freshwater pond, lake, stream, puddle, drainage ditch, etc.
4. Tell them their job is to take a sample of some freshwater. The group that can identify the highest level of microbial biodiversity in their sample wins a prize at the end of the several days.
5. Students take samples, then label them with their names, then return to school.

Day 2: Microorganism hunt

Objective: Students will be able to identify freshwater microorganisms by taking pictures of them with smart phones and comparing them to an identification chart.

- Microscope
- Sample of scummy pond freshwater
- Slides and slide covers
- Eye dropper
- Phone with camera

1. If students don't already know how to use a microscope, give them a mini-lesson on microscope use
2. Explain procedure for competition:
a. Use eyedropper to put a drop of your water sample on a microscope slide, and cover with coverslip.
b. Adjust focus and magnification level, then pan around until you find a microorganism.
c. Take a photo with your smartphone (note: This can be tricky, but with most microscopes it is possible.)
d. E-mail the photos to yourself.
e. Whichever group finds the most different microorganisms wins a prize (make 2nd and 3rd place prizes if you like)
3. Distribute equipment
4. Students begin finding microorganisms.

Day 3: Finish microorganisms hunt

- Microscope
- Sample of scummy pond freshwater
- Slides and slide covers
- Eye dropper
- Phone with camera
- Freshwater microorganism identification chart

Students spend the whole time on microscopes trying to find the most microorganisms.
If students finish early, either tell them to keep looking, give them a board game, or if they're motivated, have them begin trying to identify microorganisms with chart, or have them go back and try to get better photos of some of their microorganisms.

Day 4: Microbial biodiversity presentations

- Computers with internet access
- Freshwater microorganism identification chart

Note: This lesson depends on access to a computer lab or laptop cart of some kind. If that access does not exist, you could have them print out their photos and do this on paper. If that is not possible, have them create a written list of microorganisms they think they've found.

1. Explain how to use microorganism identification chart
2. Explain how you want them to create their presentation
a. Go to google docs
b. Create a new google presentation
c. Share it with the teacher and their partner
d. Upload each photo from their e-mail to a separate slide
e. Title the slide with the microorganism that they think it is.
f. Add an intro slide with their group name
g. Add an ending slide with their final microorganism count
3. Students create their presentations.

Day 5: Competition judging

- Computer with internet access and a projector
- White/black board

Note: If they were not able to create any kind of digital or paper presentation, and only have a written list of microorganisms, Then, instead of a whole-class presentation of their findings, have two or three groups get together, show their findings to each other, and allow them to challenge any questionable identifications from other groups - if they can't wt out on their own, they can call you over to judge.

1. Make a score chart on the board with one row per group.
2. One by one, groups come up to the front, and go through their slides.
3. At each slide, other groups may challenge a photo identification by describing what part of the photo does not match the identification chart.
4. The presenting group may briefly defend their identification.
5. You judge if that one counts, and add a tick to their score chart row if so.
6. When everyone has presented, award the prizes.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:28 AM on June 14, 2014 [10 favorites]

I have a "primate auction" activity (works to demonstrate feeding niche adaptations) that allegedly works well with undergrads, although I've never used it myself. Memail me if you'd like the documents.

Although really, Salvor Hardin's activity sounds awesome and now I wish I taught biology so I could do that.
posted by baby beluga at 5:44 AM on June 14, 2014

Response by poster: Great suggestions so far, and I won't threadsit, but I just want to be clear the activities don't need to be biology related. Connections to curriculum are great but really not necessary right now.
posted by sarae at 6:04 AM on June 14, 2014

I'm going to second taz's Pictionary suggestion. I play a modified version with my students - and you would have to as well with ELL students, so that word generator would be great. I divide the students into teams and we just play for points, kind of like the old American show "Win, Lose, or Draw". They love that we use the whiteboard for the drawing part. I played with a class on Friday morning and the time went VERY quickly and the students really enjoyed it.

Over the years I've managed to pick up old board games at garage sales & thrift stores and now have a pretty good collection of games like Monopoly, Yahtzee, Disney Trivia, Connect Four, Uno, Chess, Checkers, Go, card games, and Scrabble - "Oh Ms Nora! This is Words With Friends in real life!!" :-| There is also a math game called "24" that my students love playing. Because you are in China, you may not be able to get some of these games, but you can create your own modified versions.; this Yahtzee looks easy to replicate. Here is one for a paper version of Battleship. Perhaps you can ask students to bring in board games that are popular in China?

As for the educational aspect - there are so many skills depending on the games - overall you have social and strategy skills, some have math skills, some require word skills, some require creativity and pretty much all are a lot of fun. (Who didn't learn where Madagascar was because of Risk?) You can either give the students free choices over which games to play each day or if there is one that they really like, you can make it a bracket tournament kind of thing.

Good luck!
posted by NoraCharles at 6:51 AM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I used to draw a Jeopardy game on the chalk board, and come prepared with a list of questions/answers. Divide the class into 2 teams. Don't worry about who buzzes in first - just give each team a turn in order. Assign one kid to keep score on the other part of the chalkboard.

I always made sure that at least one category was pop culture. I taught math, so the categories were things like Fractions, Word Problems, Geometry, Formulas, etc. Whatever we had studied that year. You could do some easy Biology categories: Name the Animal, Classify the Organism, Parts of the Cell, etc. Or heck, make them all pop culture and have different categories like Justin Bieber Songs, Hello Kitty Characters, World Cup, etc.

You could even save yourself the trouble and have one class make up the questions for a different class, but you'd have to worry about friends sharing the answer sheet in the hallway between classes.
posted by CathyG at 12:42 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Great suggestions! I will keep them all for the next time I have some downtime.

I'm halfway through my 4 days now and we've mostly done educational videos (MSB, Planet Earth type things) and some pictionary. The word generator is great. The atmosphere in the classrooms is really really relaxed, nobody really wants to do anything and a large amount of students are absent anyway. We do have some board games too so I may bring them for a certain class tomorrow.

Thanks again, very helpful as always!
posted by sarae at 10:59 PM on June 16, 2014

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