Happy Hallmark Day! I mean, Valentine’s Day. Lol.
For weeks, I was struggling with deciding what kind of Valentine’s lesson I wanted to do for my classes. I didn’t know if I wanted to do a reading, or a game, or role-play… I tried looking at what kinds of Valentines lessons people have posted on Englipedia, I googled what other ESL teachers have done- nothing seemed interesting enough for the students I have.
But then I finally found something that seemed like a very promising lesson! Erin, from Breathing Means More, is also an ALT who posted a fun lesson on the Disney short-film Paperman. If you’re interested, check out her lesson here!
I thought showing Paperman would be a nice change from what I usually do in class. Because we’re so far away from any busy city, many of my students aren’t exposed to a lot of foreign things; I was very excited to show them a Disney short-film since many of them love Disney!
Unfortunately, I was only able to show Paperman to one class- and even then it seemed very unprepared. Originally, I had planned to show the movie and then present a presentation on the cultural differences between America and Japan on Valentine’s Day. I had the video all prepared to watch and on my powerpoint. I popped my flashdrive into the school laptop and opened the powerpoint. I clicked the video and the link opened up and started to load…. and load… and 5 minutes later, it was still loading… At that point, I thought to myself that I couldn’t waste anymore time, so I grabbed my laptop from the teachers room and played it off of there. I felt horrible that my students had to watch a cute and interesting movie off some dinky laptop screen. I guess I was lucky that there were only 12 students in that class…
I wasn’t going to let that same mistake happen to me when I was to do this lesson at the Junior High School. I had planned on using my laptop that uses Windows 7, because I don’t have an HDMI cord that connects with the Mac to the big screens at school. As luck would have it with me, my laptop that uses Windows 7 can’t stay on unless it’s plugged into an outlet- and I couldn’t bring my charger with me to school because Japanese outlets only use 2 prongs.
So sadly, I couldn’t show Paperman to my students, as much as I wanted to. 😦
But I didn’t want to take the theme of paper planes out of my lesson. Instead, when I started my presentation, I briefly told my students that paper planes would be used later.
Here’s a rundown of the lesson I did for my Junior High Students:
- First, I started my presentation on Valentine’s Day differences between America and Japan. Prior to that, I had planned on showing Paperman, but since I couldn’t, I just told my students that paper planes would be used in today’s lesson.
- For those of you who are unaware of how Valentine’s Day is different in Japan: In Japan, women give their male friends, co-workers, and lover chocolate, usually hand-made. There are different kinds of chocolate, depending on who you give them to: giri-choco is chocolate given to your male co-workers, usually small and “obligatory,”; cho-giri-choco is smaller than giri-choco and usually given just because it’s obligatory; honmei-choco is chocolate given to a sweetheart or lover- this chocolate is usually the one that is most worked on; tomo-choco is chocolate given to your male tomodachi, or friends.
- Guys don’t give girls chocolate on Valentine’s Day because exactly one month after Valentine’s Day, guys would have to give girls chocolate (usually only to whoever the guy receives chocolate from). This day is known as “White Day.”
- After the short presentation, I handed out a worksheet with the main characters from Paperman on it. You can use ordinary paper too, I had prepared this worksheet ahead of time and thought it would work well if the movie played. I gave students 5 minutes to write down what they thought was interesting or cool. I had my 3rd year students write down any questions they had for me about Valentine’s Day in America too.
- Then, I announced that we were going to play Bingo! But first, they had to turn their paper into a paper plane! I had a very simple tutorial within my presentation that I had students follow. Or if they know how to make their own, they’re more than welcomed to do that.
- While the students were busy building their planes, I wrote on the blackboard all of the possible bingo words. I put big hearts around each one of the words to mimic Conversation Hearts (which I told the students about in my presentation) I then passed students a bingo card that I made beforehand using a simple Bingo website.I had these cards laminated too for future use. Students would use whiteboard markers to mark off the words.
- The words I chose for my bingo cards were all words and phrases common on Conversation Hearts.
- To play Bingo, I asked my students very simple questions in English. This was more so for them to practice speaking than for them to remember anything about the presentation. You can use questions that reinforce previously learned grammar too. I kept it simple since I only see my Junior High students once a week. If a student knew the answer to a question, they would raise their hand and answer appropriately. Answering right would grant them the chance to fly their plane! They can choose any word they want and attempt to hit the heart with their plane. Any student that has the word that was hit on their card can cross it off from their card.
- Since I use stamp cards with my junior high students, I awarded a stamp for every bingo they won. You can obviously award different prizes for each Bingo.
- If you have shy students, you can have the JTE randomly choose a student, or you can draw names.
- If students get one bingo, have them continue the same card- they get pretty pumped when they see that they’re close to double or even triple bingo!
- Have some extra paper planes on hand if students struggle with flying their own.
- Shockingly, my 2nd years, who I have the greatest challenge of grabbing their attention, had the most fun! I honestly think this lesson was probably the most fun they’ve had with me. It made me happy to see them get excited when they had one more square to cross off for Bingo!
I think my junior high students had a lot of fun with this holiday lesson. Ironically, the holiday that isn’t exactly my favorite ended up being the focus lesson that all of my students had fun with so far!
If you’re ever stumped for a holiday lessons for Valentine’s Day, please try this out!
Happy Valentine’s Day!