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Hello Afterschool Class!

March 23, 2010

There’s a part of me that’s terribly excited and another that’s worried for the project I picked for the after school classes I have this year. As I have two hours a day twice a week with two sets of students, I wanted to do something outrageously ambitious and fun and engaging. My goal is to have each class produce some stop motion videos where they can teach an audience about …almost whatever they want.

When I introduced the idea to them, the response was more than positive. Well, wait, when I FRST introduced the idea, there was some confusion, maybe even some hesitation. However, I recognized some key elements that were able to get the students worked up.

1. Plenty of examples: I started with some extremely easy, slow and simple pieces that required little skill and then went to one of the most elaborate examples of stop motion I’ve ever seen (requiring over 2000 photos)  The videos showed the range of skill but also different approaches to the project – some used paper and marker, some used a black board, others used toys or actual people.

2. Group/pairwork.  Students are shy. Even my most outspoken students are unwilling to be in front of a camera for most any reason. I under stand that. They’re afraid their English will suck or that their smile looks stupid. I said to the class something like “You are not in the video” and all the faces lit up, heads nodded, everybody was suddenly content.

3. Students know a lot of English and are creative. They want to show off their skills but worry about everyone else although, for the most part, they’re all worrying about the same thing (that is to say that there aren’t any bullies or teasers or anything, just shy kids) So I’m letting them work in pairs or small groups to do this. They can be independent and show off indirectly with the finished project. Awesome.

4. Games. I’ve started playing diction and typical drama warm up games with the students with great success. They like to act.

So, I’m kinda bragging but I’ve found that bringing all these elements together usually makes for decent lesson during regular school hours, too…except that regular classes have three times more students. But whatever. I’m excited.

On a side note, I’m spending lots of money on students these days…I just bought donuts for the winners of a vocabulary contest and I bought two cameras for the afterschool classes (they’re cheap-ish but still!). Then there are markers…books…special paper. I dunno…it certainly adds up but now I get notes like “In elementary school I hated English and now I like English”

In summation, this is the brag post. Thank you.

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