Lesson Plan: Teaching Emotions

I’ve posted a number of ESL/TEFL activities using little or no resources (you can find those here and here). Recently, I did the following lesson with my English club (which I host twice per week at a local NGO). I liked it so much I thought I would post my whole lesson plan.

I was inspired by something similar on Pinterest, and asked my awesome friend Katie to include some paint chips in a care package she was sending (she did). This lesson plan doesn’t require much else in the way of materials. Here is what I used:

  • Paint chips in yellow, blue, purple, green, red, and gray
  • iPhone + Jam speaker
  • Index Cards
  • Paper

(I used the paint chips to list a range of emotions in English. On one the side of the chip, I listed the main vocabulary word in Albanian.)

paint-chip-teaching-emotions-esl-tefl

Yellow:

  1. Contented
  2. Glad
  3. Delighted
  4. Joyful

Blue:

  1. Unhappy
  2. Blue
  3. Heartbroken
  4. Depressed

Purple:

  1. Uneasy
  2. Tense
  3. Agitated
  4. Anxious

Green:

  1. Envious
  2. Covetous
  3. Jealous
  4. Possessive

Red:

  1. Irritated
  2. Mad
  3. Upset
  4. Furious

Gray:

  1. Dread
  2. Afraid
  3. Frightened
  4. Horrified

The Lesson:

For a warm up, I played the song “Happy” by Pharrell twice, using my iPhone + speaker. First, I asked students just to listen to the song, in order to become familiar with it. After that, I asked students to listen to the song again, and count (using tick marks on a sheet of paper), how many times the word “happy” appeared in the song. (For the record, three of my students counted 28 times, while my other two students had different numbers. The point wasn’t to accurately discover how many times the word was used, but rather to have students practice listening for a specific English word.)

[As a variation to this, you could print the lyrics to the song but delete certain words, and have students listen for/fill in those words.]

Next, I had a discussion with my students about emotions and what they mean. I passed around the paint chips and asked them to copy down the new vocabulary words. ( I had a small group of students. I think this lesson plan could work with a larger group, but you would probably need more copies of the paint chips to pass around.)

Then, I wrote this sentence on the board: “Today I feel _____ because ____.” We went around the circle and each student stated how he/she was feeling, and why.

Next, I asked each student to draw three index cards from the pile I made. Each index card listed a different scenario. Here is what I wrote:

  • Your mom yells at you.
  • You are watching your favorite television show.
  • You got a stain on your favorite shirt.
  • You are playing outside with your friends.
  • You have a big test at school.
  • You broke your arm.
  • You are eating dinner with your family.
  • Your friend got a new iPhone.
  • You lost your dog.
  • Your little sister broke your favorite toy.
  • Your best friend gets a puppy.
  • Your best friend is moving away.
  • Two of your friends go to lunch and don’t invite you.
  • You are lost in Pristina.
  • You are walking alone in the dark.
  • You got into a fight with your best friend.

Students then had to read their scenarios aloud, and identify which emotion(s) they might feel in that situation.

Then, I asked students to write one sentence for each category of emotion, and read them aloud.

We were close to running out of time by this (the group runs for 1 hour), but in the last few minutes of class, I asked students to choose one of the sentences they wrote and draw a picture to illustrate it.

What I like about this lesson plan: 1) It doesn’t require much in the way of material. 2) It incorporates audio learning, visual learning, speaking aloud, critical thinking, creativity, and kinesthetic learning.

I did this lesson with a group of middle and high school students. I think it’s too advanced for younger kids, but there are probably ways to modify it and make it easier.

Creating Teaching Materials

As a visual learner myself, I am drawn to creating visual materials for my classes. (Although I do try to incorporate audio and kinesthetic learning, too.) I wanted to write a post and share some easy-to-make teaching aids, using just a few supplies (paper, scissors, markers/crayons, and tape).

teaching-body-parts
Labeling parts of the body

This summer, my teaching group and I did a lesson on animals, where we created these flashcards.

IMG_3166

A fun game to play is to have students create two lines. Then, students step to the front of the room two-by-two. The teacher holds up a flashcard and the first student to say the correct word wins a point. This game can be adapted to any subject.

For teaching time, I created these flashcards, where students have to match the time to the correct clock.

teaching-time

Some of my younger classes were struggling with learning professions. Using their workbook, I cut out drawings of different professions (since I hate to draw/am bad at it) and taped them to index cards. Then I wrote the names of the professions separately on another set of cards. Students then played a memory game where they had to find and match the correct word/picture. This can also be adapted to any subject.

tefl-flashcards

Last, I created a flashcard set of 30 different pieces of clothing (with each piece colored in three different colors). These can be used in two different ways: 1) Give each student a card, and then ask them to stand up when they hear their clothing piece/color called. For example, “If you are holding the purple hat, stand up.” Or, for smaller classes, you can spread all 30 flashcards on the table, and ask students to gather around. Then, call out a piece/color, and see who can find it the fastest. Example: “Who can find the purple hat?”

clothes-flash-cards

This summer, I worked with my friend and fellow volunteer Chelsea at a 6-day English camp. She created THE CUTEST bear paper dolls (Chelsea loves bears) with little outfits. Students had to dress the bears appropriately, according to the season/weather. (I am trying to convince Chelsea she needs to start a business where she creates a line of bear paper dolls .. we’ll see how that goes. 🙂 )

bear-paper-doll
Created by Chelsea Coombes
bear-paper-dolls
Created by Chelsea Coombes

There are probably countless ways to use flashcards in the classroom, but I wanted to share what I have used and seen used so far. If you are an ESL/TEFL teacher, I hope you found this helpful!

TEFL Activities Using Little to No Resources, V2

(**I compiled the following list into a downloadable PDF file: tefl-activities-requiring-few-to-no-resources-v2)

Telephone
How could I have forgotten telephone on my first list? Classic. If you’re unfamiliar with this game, have your students form a line or circle. The first student thinks of a sentence in English, and then whispers it to the next person (and so on). The last person to hear the sentence has to say it out loud. (And then everyone laughs at how much the sentence has changed.)

Four Corners
This game is adaptable to any lesson plan/vocabulary. Choose four vocabulary words, and write them on four separate pieces of paper. Post one word in each corner of the classroom. Select one student to be “it.” He or she sits in the center of the room with their eyes closed (or blindfolded). The other students disperse to the four corners of the room. The “it” student says, “Everyone in the (vocab word) corner, sit down.” Any students standing in that corner must sit at their desks. The remaining students change corners. The pattern is repeated until only one student is left standing. That person becomes “it” for the next game.

Listening to a Song
I brought my iPod + portable Jam speaker to school to play a song for my students. I had them listen to the song once all the way through. Before the second listening, I wrote a list of words on the board. When the students heard those words during the second listening of the song, they had to raise their hands. (If you have access to a printer, you could print the lyrics and delete certain words. Then, have students fill in those words as they listen to the song.)
Choosing a song can be challenging. Things to take into consideration are appropriate lyrics (obviously), choosing a song students would like (I’d say, stick with pop music), and also finding a song where the lyrics aren’t too fast/can be clearly heard. Here are a few songs I would suggest:
Popular by MIKA and Ariana Grande
Beautiful by Christina Aguilera
Happy by Pharrell Williams

Counting (Warm Up Activity)
Have students stand. Count aloud to ten as you shake your right hand ten times, your left hand ten times, your right foot ten times, and your left foot ten times. Repeat the exercise counting down 9, 8, 7 …

Preposition
Have students come up to the front of the classroom one at a time. Give them an object and let them place it under, beside, between, below (etc.) the desk or a chair. Have the other students use the sentence in a preposition. (Example: “The ball is under the desk.”)

Create a Story
Have each student write a sentence on a piece of paper. Then have students pass papers to their left. Give students thirty seconds to read what their neighbor wrote, and then add a sentence to the story. Then, pass papers to the left and repeat. When the papers complete the circle and the student has their original piece of paper back in front of them, go around the room and have students read their stories aloud.

You can see my first list of resources here.

Teaching, So Far

I’ve been teaching in Kosovo for about two months now.

village-school-in-kosovo
One of my schools … I think it only has about 8 classrooms.

I was a social worker in Chicago prior to moving to Kosovo. For my last job in Chicago, I spent one day per week at a high school, providing counseling to students who had been caught using drugs. Chicago Public Schools are kind of famous for being terrible, but they’re luxurious compared to schools here. Even “poor” public schools in the United States have things like libraries, gymnasiums, computers/televisions/projectors, printers, counselors, and substitute teachers (here, if a teacher is absent, students just sit alone in their classrooms, from what I’ve seen).

I teach in two village schools. In both, there are students without textbooks. Sometimes, they aren’t enough chairs to go around, so students sit on a chair with their friend. The only classroom resources are chalk and a chalkboard.

One of the reasons I am thankful I only teach half-days is that I won’t use the bathrooms at the school. There isn’t soap or toilet paper. Oftentimes, schools have squatty-pottys.

It’s been a challenge, teaching here. Sometimes, I’ll play a song on my iPhone. I’ve brought my laptop in a few times to show video clips to my students. It’s difficult to think of interesting things to do with so few resources on hand (which is why I created this TEFL activity list. I’ll be posting another one soon, so stay tuned).

I’ve started working with a second counterpart, teaching grades 3, 4, and 5. With my regular counterpart, I teach grades 7 and 8. The difference between the younger students and the older ones is noticeable … the younger kids will sprint across the playground to hug me when they see me. They are quiet and engaged in the classroom. The older kids? …Not so much.

image1
Some of my younger students, playing a memory game using flashcards I made. Thanks to my counterpart for taking these photos.

 

TEFL: Activities Using Little to No Resources

One of the more challenging aspects of teaching in Kosovo is working with few resources. We have chalkboards/chalk and (some) textbooks (half of my classes don’t have books yet … and school started a month ago). That’s pretty much it. The Peace Corps wants us to develop sustainable new ideas for the classroom. Even if I could afford to buy extra materials, that really isn’t fair to the other teachers, who might not be able to do so.

I’ve mentioned previously that this is my first experience teaching in a classroom. I’ve been scouring the Internet for ideas for classroom activities. Printouts are a challenge. My school has one printer, and it isn’t even an industrial-sized one you see in offices across the U.S. It’s closer to the size you might have in your home office. So, printing out materials for dozens of students every day isn’t really an option.

I’ve rounded up some of the best activities I’ve found so far that require few to no resources. I’ll likely continue to add posts like these to the blog as I discover/come up with more ideas. There are a million “icebreaker” games out there, but I’ve focused on educational activities where students have to speak or write in English.

Teaching Present Continuous
1. One student comes up to the front of the classroom and acts out a daily activity.
2. The other students have to call out what he/she is doing. “He is brushing his teeth.” “He is washing the dishes.”

Hangman (for use with any vocab words)
1. Allow students to take turns acting as the “hangman,” choosing words and calling on their classmates to guess.

Teaching Parts of the Body
1. Sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”
2. Draw a body on the chalkboard and have students come up to label parts

A Tree Map (used to teach are/can/have)
Draw something that looks like this on the board:
————
|             |           |
Are       Can     Have

And ask students to help you fill in the tree. Example: Spiders
“Spiders are hairy.” “Spiders can jump.” “Spiders have eight legs.”

Prepositions
1. Describe a room and have students draw what they hear
“There is a coffee table in the middle of the room. On the table is … Under the table is …Beside the table is … ”

Stand Up If …
1. Have students make a circle with their chairs. Remove one of the chairs.
2. Have a student volunteer stand in the middle of the circle.
3. The student volunteer has to come up with a sentence, such as, “Stand up if you’re wearing a white shirt.”
4. All the students wearing a white shirt must stand and try to find a different chair, while the person in the middle also tries to find a chair.
5. The last person standing has to come up with the next sentence.

**I compiled these into a downloadable PDF: tefl-esl-activities-using-little-or-no-resources.

If anyone out there has other ideas, please feel free to share!

Questions About Schools in Kosovo

My friend Dana loves it when she makes “guest appearances” on this blog. (Hi, Dana!) She recently emailed me a bunch of questions about school. I thought about making a video to answer them, but I am lazy so, no.

What ages are they again?
I teach 7th and 8th grade, so they are eleven to … fourteen?

Is it just you and the kiddos all day? Is there anyone else in the classroom with you?
No, I am not supposed to ever be alone in the classroom. I am partnered with a Kosovar co-teacher. The goal of Peace Corps is to help teachers here develop new methods of teaching, and to develop sustainable teaching materials.

How long do you have each class?
40 minutes

How many classes a day do you teach?
It varies … 3-5 classes per day. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to teach 20 classes per week.

What time does school start and end?
Most schools in Kosovo operate on two shifts, morning and afternoon. I work mornings, so 8:00-1:00. I think the afternoon shift starts at 1:00 and goes to 4 or 5:00.

What’s all the rage on the playground?
Because the school day is short, I haven’t observed an official recess time.

Are they soccer kids?
Totally. Volleyball is also a popular sport here.

What’s the big activity for them?
I don’t know.

What gets them excited?
They seem to be into all of the things American kids are into. One of my students has a cool Spiderman/Batman pencil case. Another student has an adorable Hello Kitty backpack I want to steal. (Of course, I am kidding. I would never steal from a child. Maybe.)

What are the other classes most of your students are taking?
The basics … Shqip (Albanian), English, math, geometry, physics, geography, history, physical education …

Are they led down a vocational route, or a route to higher education?
Both. My understanding is that kids take a test at some point. Depending on how they score, some are sent to vocational school, while others apply to college.

What is the school structure? Is there a principal? Who do you report to?
I report to the school director, who I believe reports directly to the Ministry of Education. (Side note, I love that name. It reminds me of the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter.)

How many grades are there?
All of them. 🙂

Do the older kids have after school jobs?
I don’t think so. Employment here is scarce for adults. I don’t think most children work.

Are there any sort of extra curricular activities?
If you’re talking like a drama club or something, not that I’ve seen. Some volunteers run programs like English Clubs, etc. There’s also a new poetry competition that’s starting up, and a push to start chess clubs in schools.

school-kosovo

Thanks for your questions, Dana!