Monday, March 12, 2012

The one (class reflection)

Today, we covered the use of ".. the one who .." and ".. the one that .." in my fifth grade classes.  I felt that our textbook introduced this bit of grammar improperly as its cameo in a page and a half of the book and lack of explanation would lead students to infer that they could use "the one" in inappropriate situations.  They began this lesson with a Korean English teacher last week, so I rolled them back to an already-completed exercise and tried to show them how native speakers use and think about these kinds of sentences.

My goal was to have them thinking about the contextual implications of using "the one" when describing an object.  For example, when considering the sentence, "Jimmy is the one who is shy," I wanted them to think about two things.  1) What group or category is Jimmy part of?  2) What does this sentence imply about the others in that group or category?

Since we have not yet divided the students according to the levels of ability, I am teaching a mixed group.  This was only going to make a tricky concept more difficult to convey, so I began the class with story time.  I told them a short story about my weekend and a few of them were allowed to share their stories with the class.  This got them laughing and warmed them up, so I felt like they were ready to jump into the meat of the lesson.

I wrote "the one" on the board and asked them to think about its meaning as we read a few sentences from the exercise they completed on Friday.  Hiroko's the one who likes to take pictures.  Gilberto's the one who studies a lot.  Lili's the one who is wearing a red dress today.  The class agreed that "the one" meant people, and I had them narrow it down to people in their book.  I expressed to them that "the one" implies that the subject should be thought about as part of a group or category.  So, I wrote a few examples on the board for them to consider in which "the one" was not a person in their book or not a person at all.  The tiger is the one that has stripes.  I then asked them to identify the possible group or category in which "the one" could be considered.  This was difficult for them, at first, as I found that the higher-level students were able to provide examples quite readily while the lower level students, possibly not able to understand my explanation due to its speed or my use of vocabulary, needed some extra examples.  For the example, Kevin is the one who is silly, they identified "the one"'s  possible category as: a student, a student in our class, a boy, a boy in the world, a person, a dog (I allowed this one because I wanted to demonstrate that we might not even be talking about our Kevin).

I pointed out that using "the one who/that" is not very specific and you have to be careful to make sure the other person knows what you are talking about.

After a few examples like this, I demonstrated how we can write the sentences without using "the one" by plugging in the examples they had given me and which I had written on the board.  They then made a few of their own sentences independently and identified each others' categories.  Since they represent a wide variety of levels of ability, I allowed the high level learners who finished early and correctly to help their friends with ideas and look for errors.. NICELY look for errors!

Finally, I wrote two component sentences on the board and asked them to use them to make a "the one who/that" sentence.  For example: Peter Parker is in our class.  Peter Parker is Spiderman. --> Peter Parker is the one who is Spiderman & Spiderman is the one who is in our class.  This was a little more difficult because it is possible to make several sentences with the given information, and the implied categories of "the one" changes.

If I could teach the class again, I would be sure to place more emphasis on the exclusionary property of using "the one who/that" as it implies that other objects in that category do not share the discussed quality or property, or if they do, it is to a lesser extent.  While this property was implied in my examples, I don't think I clearly demonstrated it for them.  Unfortunately, the lesson took quite a bit of time, but I'm going to revisit the topic briefly tomorrow and will be encouraging them to use these kinds of sentences when they tell stories.  I may even delay the next page of the book and move on to "one of the ones who".. but I'll decide on that a little later when I have some more time to consider it.

There were some explanatory bits of this lesson which were heavily teacher-dominated.  I feel like that's a bad thing, but it is necessary when explaining difficult concepts.  I was careful to make sure that they were doing most of the reading and speaking of examples for me and employed a lot of board/peer correction to keep them engaged.  By the end of the class, I felt like every level of student had a pretty good understanding of these sentences' meanings, but I'm pretty sure they'll need more practice before they can produce this kind of sentence on their own.  So practice we will :)  

I find that story time is one of the best moments of class because they are given the opportunity to use English creatively and they often make use of the material we are studying.  If they struggle, it's easy to suggest ways in which they can express themselves or make use of something we've learned, provided I'm able to understand their general topic.  I generally cut it off at about 5-7 mins in order to start the lesson, and there's always a few kids disappointed that they haven't been able to tell a story that day.. but this is a good thing because they'll be even more eager to share it the next day.  I have a student I'll name Han-bin who was very disappointed about not being able to share his story this morning, but I'll definitely choose him tomorrow and there's a good possibility he thought some more about how to express his story today while he waited, or perhaps he will do so between now and the time he speaks tomorrow.

So we had a good class today, and I think it was an effective one.  I'll find out for sure tomorrow morning when we review!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Now THAT's detail! I'm impressed that you've got a storytime slot that seems to keep most of your students involved and using English. I've got a class of 17 modern dance majors and they can't even stay awake when they are talking to each other in Korean!