A few days ago I felt like taking a study-break with the Kid President. I have previously posted his pep-talk to teachers and students here (which we all should see from time to time), but this time I came across his list of 20 things we should say (or do) more often. Like for instance giving people more high-fives! It came to mind that many of the words from his list is simply basic politeness phrases and useful expressions in your everyday life, and for that reason important for ESL learners as well. I therefore brought it into the classroom for my special needs students, and here´s how it went!
I started the lesson by giving each student a high-five as they walked through the door, stating that it was good to see them and to set a cheerful mood in the classroom. Next, we did a dance called «fluedansen» – as we normally do. This dance is something both students and assistants seem to enjoy a great deal, and some of them WILL ask for it if I have forgotten! I then introduced Kid President and briefly said something about who he is. I explained that he is good at giving people advice and pep-talks, and that we would go on watching a clip and listen to his list of 20 things people should say more often.
A great clip, isn´t it?!
Here is how the rest of the lesson was structured: (I remember reading somewhere that lists are good for blog posts, sooo…)
1) Each student made a mind map over the terms «excuse me», «please» and «thank you», and wrote down in what contexts these words would come in handy. One student (who is very fond of acting) and an assisted even developed this task into a role-play where they acted out different settings as the ideas came along. I thought this was simply marvelous, and this is in fact one of the things I like the most about working with special needs students. You never know how things will turn out, and they are always so open minded to the activities presented to them.
2) Next we practiced creating small dialogues in pairs where all these three phrases + «you´re welcome» were to be included. It could for instance turn out like this:
Student A: Excuse me, may I borrow your yellow pencil, please?
Student B: Of course, here you are.
Student A: Thank you!
Student B: You´re welcome.
Quite simple, yet important for the daily use of oral English, which are one of the most important aims for these students.
3) I collected many items from the classroom like pencils, scissors, glue, books, etc., and had in advanced made small notes with various classroom vocabulary. All of these things were put in the middle of a large table, and the notes were put in a box. The group then took turns in picking a note and asking one of the other students if they could have or borrow the different items.
Not a very digital lesson in total, but it did have a digital starting point. I was inspired to build a lesson around a YouTube clip, and it was the students starting point when approaching the topic of politeness. By watching this clip, the students (though they might not have understood every word) got to practice their listening skills, and then the follow-up activities guided them towards promoting both writing, speaking and communicative skills.
(And be honest: how many of you actually placed your hand on the internet high-five? I have no problem revealing that I most certainly did, and I conclude with high-fives being highly underestimated!)