QUESTION: I would like an activity I could use for the First Day of Class. One my learners could use to 'introduce' themselves, on one hand, and to express their expectations of me, on the other.

ANSWER: The First Day of Class is the most important day of the school year. We would like to suggest an activity which would help B1+ learners to tell you a bit about themselves and to express their expectations of you, of themselves, their fellow learners, as well as their dreams for the future.

We strongly recommend that you use it as a poetry writing activity, as it is much more motivating.

TITLE:  “I come from. . .”

LEVEL: B1+

LANGUAGE & SKILLS FOCUS: Writing, reflecting; sentence writing;  proofreading and editing; confidence building; recitation; fostering imagination; social-emotional learning; interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, EQ, self-esteem.

TIME: 15 minutes.

N.B.: The activity should take place 25 minutes before class is over on

         THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS.

MATERIALS: writing paper and pen

BEFORE CLASS: No preparation required of the teacher.

IN CLASS:

1.Ask learners to inhale and exhale two to three times so they can feel more relaxed. Tell learners to focus on themselves, on their future plans, on expectations of the year to come, etc.

2.Write the title on the Board, "I come from. . . " , then, blutak on the  left side of the Board the outline below.

 OUTLINE

*Where do you come from?

place?

family?

family principles?

*What are your needs?

practical?

intellectual?

*What are your expectations?

of me (the teacher)?

fellow learners?

the future?

*What do you offer?

literally?

metaphorically?

3.Now, ask the learners to write three sentences starting with "I come from. . ." , taking into consideration the suggestions made in the Outline, e.g. place, family, family principles. Ask them to write each sentence below the other.

Give an example and you may need to explain the suggestions made after each major question.

Example:

I come from Arta.

I come from a family of four,

I come from a loving, hardworking family. etc. 

4.Continue in the same manner with the rest of the questions in the Outline. Do stress that your learners compose simple, direct sentences.

5.Once they have completed this part of the activity, show them how their answers can become a 'poem'. Use the example above and then help them 'edit' their own work. It is quite helpful

if you use a learner's responses as a second example that you all 'edit' collectively.

Also, do remind your learners that in poetry quite often the changing of a verb into an -ing form gives the text a 'flow'.

Example:

I come from Arta.

 I come from a family of four,

I come from a loving, hardworking family.etc. 

6.Ask your learners to re-write their 'poem'. As they do so, they may wish to change the order of certain words or even phrases,

e.g. I come from Arta.from a loving, hardworking family of four. . . etc.

7.Invite your learners to recite their poems, to applaud each other and to express their opinion as to which ones they liked best and for which reason, i.e. the choice of words? the feelings? the images? etc.

It is imperative that you write your own poem while your learners are writing theirs, and that you recite it, too, at the end.

8.Make copies of your learners' poems and keep them till the end of the year. Then, bring them to class, ask the learners to read them again and have a discussion as to whether they themselves have changed, or their expectations have been met,  etc., which will make for one of the best assessments of the school year.

The poem of a B2 learner:

“I come from. . .”

I come from an island,

three children and a mother,

full of discipline, tenderness

and love.

I need food, light and laughter,

expecting care, friendship and

the promise of tomorrow.

I give my word and

I offer my dreams. . .

RATIONALE: Poetry writing activities are used to develop the skill of writing and to make teaching and learning a pleasant experience. We do not create poets. We teach through self-expression. The aim of these techniques is to give a sense of achievement and to enhance self-esteem. This specific activity gives voice to the learners’ life experiences and illustrates their emotional landscapes.

 

Have a challenging and successful  school year,

Suzanne and Lilika