So, after consulting with Tanja, we decided to go in another direction. Tanja helped us to teach a lesson on pets during their English class. We had photos of six pets: elephant, bird, cat, dog, rabbit, and hamster. We began by putting the photos up on the board and went through each one telling them the English name for that pet. Then, we had the students repeat the name after us so that they could practice saying the word. They struggled greatly with the word "bird", but after much practice, they improved! Next, we would point to one of the animals and ask a student to raise their hand to tell us what it is. The students would use complete sentences to say "This is a ____" and they did so well! The students were very comfortable with the dog and cat, but were more hesitant to answer when we were pointing to the bird or elephant. After doing this for several minutes, we moved on to some games. The game that was the most popular was the "what is missing?" game. For this, we lined all of the photos of the animals up on the board. One student would come to the front of the room and in English would say "close your eyes" and all other students would put their head down and close their eyes. Next, the student at the front would take down one of the pictures of an animal. When he was finished, he would say "what is missing?" and the other classmates would have to see which animal was no longer on the board. Once again, we had the students practice speaking in full sentences. They would respond "The ____ is missing". If they were correct they would come to the front of the room and they would have a turn next. They loved this game, and they did so well with it! We did have to help quite a bit when they responded to make sure that they were using full sentences. Many of them wanted to just say the name of the animal, but we had to help them remember to use the full phrase.
We played several more games that Tanja helped us to arrange, and overall it was a very successful lesson! I feel that the students really understood and benefited a lot from this lesson.
Despite the challenges that we were presented with, Tanja still was interested in us teaching a lesson on the American flag with her class. We decided that we could do is still as long as she helped to translate. Emily had joined our class and so now we had three teachers doing the lesson together. This was a challenge in itself because if there are too many people trying to lead a lesson, the students can get easily confused. However to my surprise, we did not have this issue at all. The students were so excited to learn about America. Tanja plays a song every time that the students come to circle, and she calls one row at a time. We turned on the song and the students quietly came over to circle. Once everyone was settled, we began our lesson. We told them what we were going to talk about, and Emily had written the 50 states on the chalkboard, so the students were already excited and interested to see what we would be doing. When we sat in circle, we did the original plan. We began telling the students about our flag. Laci printed out pictures of all of our flags that we've ever had! We were able to show the students the differences between the flags, and without even speaking, almost all of the students noticed that there were more stars on the more recent flags. Many of them also already understood that stars equal states. I was so impressed by their prior knowledge of our flag, and how well they were able to piece information together. We used a globe to show the students where America is located, and how far away we are from Germany. We told them some facts about our flag, and Tanja graciously translated for us. The students seemed to grasp the concept quite well, however when we talked about our country, states, colonies, etc. we seemed to lose the students a little bit. Regardless, that is a very hard concept even for English speakers to grasp. After circle time, the students went back to their desks and we handed out the coloring sheets for them and explained how to color it. Next, we handed out American flag pencils and small American flags for all of the students. I cannot even begin to express how excited they were to receive those materials. All of them found creative ways to display their flag (some of them used two pencils and stuck the flag between them so it would stand up on their desks). It made me so happy to see the students so excited about our country. All of them, when finished coloring, made sure to come over to us and show us their flag. I am so happy that we had Tanja to help us translate, because the lesson was so successful! It was inspiring to see the students so eager to learn about other countries and traditions.