Snapshots: October, November, and December in the Classroom

Similar to a post I wrote back in August, here are some funny moments from life in the classroom.

@ my Tuesday school (English Club)

For the day’s English Club activity, I give the students Halloween-themed Three-Sentence Stories to read aloud in pairs. Both Halloween stories followed the same basic structure:

Sentence 1: “One dark night in October, … “

Sentence 2: “Suddenly, … ”

Sentence 3: “But… “

After the students had practiced reading the stories for a while, I have them sit down and write their own three-sentence Halloween stories using the above structure. Five of the students struggle to come up with an idea, but one girl (Y-chan) writes quite enthusiastically, glancing at her friend (H-chan) and giggling.

When it came time to share the stories, Y-chan volunteers immediately.

With a sly smile, she reads, “One dark night in October, I saw Sadako**. Suddenly, I was surprised to see Sadako on the roof of my house. But I look a little closely, and it was…” she pauses, smirking, “H-chan!”

H-chan thinks about the story for a minute, trying to understand it. Then she replies by flipping her long hair over her face and dramatically yelling, “I am Sadako!” in the middle of the school library.

** Sadako is the vengeful ghost character in the famous Japanese horror film, Ring.

@ my Wednesday school

As a warm-up game, we are playing a version of Hot Seat to review vocabulary for their test. The class is split into two teams, and one volunteer from each team stands in the front of the class, facing away from the blackboard. I write vocabulary words like “telescope,” or “agriculture” on the board, and the rest of the class shouts hints to their teammates so they can guess the written word.

For the final tiebreaker word, I choose an easy one: “Hawaii.”

The class erupts in noisy hints.

One girl yells, “Coconuts! Coconuts!” over and over again, looking at her classmate like he’s a dunce for not understanding that Coconuts = Hawaii.

A girl on the opposite team starts reciting a passage from the textbook chapter about Mauna Kea.

A boy in the back of the room keeps yelling, “ICELAND,” … which would have been a great hint if he had pronounced it “island.”

The two volunteers standing at the front of the class are at a loss. “Okinawa?” one guesses. “Summer vacation?” the other student asks.

Suddenly, a boy in the audience stands up and starts doing the hula, locking eyes fiercely with his guessing teammate in the front.

I practically see the lightbulb go off above the student’s head as he shouts the answer – “Hawaii!!” – and the left half of the class bursts into applause as they win the game.

@ my Thursday school

It’s time for one of my quietest and lowest-level classes.

H-sensei and I go to class early to set up the projector and speakers for the day’s lesson. Since we have a little extra time before class starts, and since the classroom is empty, H-sensei starts blasting Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” from his speakers. The two of us dance around for a minute, humming along to the lyrics.

Students start arriving, and they are actually curious about the music.

“What is this? Old music, sensei.

“Movie today? Movie?

“Sensei, dance party?”

I jokingly nod at the girl who asks if it’s a dance party, and to my surprise, she actually starts dancing.

One of the more mischievous boys declares that it’s actually Karaoke time and pretends to sing.

I’m amazed by how active the class is in the face of music. The bell rings, and everyone rushes to their seats, Bon Jovi still playing in the background.

@ my Tuesday school

We are reviewing some easy Christmas vocabulary with students before playing Christmas and New Year Jeopardy.

My teacher holds up a picture of milk and cookies and explains that American children leave these two things as a little gift to Santa Claus. Then she asks, “What are they?”

One student raises her hand, confident of her answer: “Mugi-cha and senbe!” (Barley tea and rice crackers).

Everyone else in the class cracks up, and my teacher comments, “Wow, Santa is very Japanese!”

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