Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Christmas present

A short story… Yesterday my mom sent me an email telling me about how my dog Lucca back in California spent Christmas and how she opened her presents and loved her new toys and as I was reading the email I thought oh yeah, maybe I should have gotten Sophie a small toy or something. But being that I have absolutely no money right now as most of it was stolen during a Christmas play at school where I left my bag unattended, presents had been the last thing on my mind… I honestly didn’t buy a single Christmas present this year. Later in the day I got all bundled up and walked to the small hanoot that is close to my apartment. I always go to this same hanoot and buy the same things bread, sour cream, cellphone rechargeable minutes; just small things that I tend to forget to buy at the big grocery store. There are two ladies that own, or at least operate the small store and they are always so friendly with me, and they think Sophie is just the funniest thing in the world. They like to talk to her as if she is a person, and they get rather annoyed when customers are afraid of her. They tell people, she is just a small little dog, she doesn’t harm anything. So basically I love these women! So anyways on this day I ran to the store to get some cell phone minutes and as I was buying them I saw a row of stuffed dragons on the shelf. I didn’t even notice but I most have been staring, because the lady asked me aren’t they nice and explained to me that this upcoming year was the year of the dragon. I asked her how much they were and she told me 1000 dram. As I said I was really broke and didn’t have 1,000 dram to spend, so I said yes they are nice and began to walk away. She stopped me and asked me what color I liked. I told her it didn’t matter it was just for Sophie I was thinking about buying it for. She began to laugh at me as if I was joking with her. You want to buy Sophie a New Years Eve present she asked me, as if I was crazy. Of course I told them, she is my little baby, she needs a present. It is a dog; it won’t even know that it is a present she told me. Oh yes she will I told them, dogs love presents. They told me they didn’t believe me. So I called Sophie over and asked her if she wanted a toy, she happens to know the word toy, and she began to spin in circles. They were so surprised and thought it was cute but weren’t so convinced. So the lady handed me a small red dragon. I took the small toy and told Sophie, look Sophie it’s your new toy as I showed it to her. She stood up on her hind legs and grabbed it from me in her mouth and ran to the rug in the store and began to chew it. The ladies squealed with delight. She is like a child in a dog’s body they told me! It doesn’t seem like much at all, but I love moments like these. Moments that I can teach Armenians that animals are sweet and have feelings and emotions. People here honestly don’t know the depth of what animals think and feel and so they kick them and beat them as they walk by because they are afraid of them. I love every opportunity I get to show them differently and to prove to them that animals are awesome and cute and very loving when you don’t beat them…

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Noun Town Projects

I am always trying to teach my kids the difference between parts of speech… something that is often overlooked when teaching foreign language. I think that understanding the structure of a language makes it much eaiser to think in that language; at least that is how I began to really learn Armenian. Another one of my goals has been to introduce more projects into the class room. My students love projects! They love when I give them a long term project that they will have to present to the class, it makes them excited about class. Which is a switch from American students who groan when a teacher announces a new project.
So from these goals came the idea for an excellent project that I called Noun Town!! This was a three part lesson. The first part of the lesson students got into two groups and wrote all the people, places and things that a town would need to run. My fifth grade class really ran away with this part. One of the groups came up with 150 words!! Remember this is their 3rd language, and they have only been studying it for 2 years! So it was really fantastic to see such excitement. This is also my class that loves competition so it was really fun just to sit back and watch them try to steal words from each other and sneak peeks at the other’s list. My student Romela who by far is the brain in the class but also the calm shy quiet girl burst into an angry tirade when she caught a boy from the other team trying to look at her list. In the middle of class she yelled out I will murder you if you come any closer. The whole class was taken aback because it’s just so uncharacteristic of her… though I have to say English class does bring out the cutthroat in her!

The second part of the class the students had to draw a picture of their town and label it. Everything had to be on one small poster board, but the catch was that whatever they put on the poster board they would have to remember because they would have to present it as a group and be able to answer questions. The kids really loved this part. They all worked together so well making pictures and studying the new words. Finally they had to present the project to the class. Each presentation was about three minutes long… which is a lot of English for them to be speaking!!! They had to tell me what their noun town has and who works at the various places. I have posted the video of my 5th grades presentations on my youtube channel… it’s really cute to watch them! My sixth grade class also did this project but 5th grade just blew them out of the water with the depth of their projects…. The best part is hearing them correct each other and showing them what the other team was missing. You know your students are very involved in a project when they come up to you during the day and say Miss Alyssa the other team doesn’t have a bus station in their town, they can’t go anywhere!! So anyways we had a very exciting week in my classes and the winner of the presentations got stickers in their books as well as homemade cookies by their very own, Miss Alyssa! I couldn’t have been more pleased with this project and with my students!!!