We started to do our final projects, animations related to our course topics. In the previous weeks the groups had prepared their story line and made some figures to be used in their films. First our art teacher Kaisa Annala worked with the students and helped them to get started with the application (Clay Frames) and shooting the pictures. In the following lesson the students continued working with their films. Finally, in the last lesson of the course, we watched all the films. All groups had found a very good theme for their film: from discrimination to human rights and national identities.
“Thank god we were fast enough to finish with our pictures the last time and we had the whole lesson to spend for recording the audio. I was the narrator, others made the sound effects and were in charge of music and the unicorn’s love stream. Don’t ask. You should watch the animation to understand.”
“During the final lesson of this course it was time to watch all animations. Since they were all in a digital form we couldn’t get through this lesson without minor technical issues. In the end everything went well and we had a chance to see each other’s animations. It was entertaining to watch them because they were so different compared to one another. I think everyone did a great job.”
A FINAL NOTE:
For me as a teacher having a course like this was a blast! I learned a lot, too. I got to know wonderful people around the world and managed to do something a bit different with our lovely and mature students. There’s nothing wrong with dealing with grammar and vocabulary related to pop culture, but planning topics and carrying out activities that are covered only quickly, if at all, in regular English courses gave me personal pleasure and I felt we were doing something worthwhile.
It makes me very happy that the students felt the same way:
“I am so glad I decided to join this course. It was so different from what I had in mind and yet so interesting! The ultimate plus was the amount of guests our teacher had managed to arrange for our lessons. Each one of them had a whole different background and they all had their stories. What great personalities! I also got much more information about global issues and organizations such as human rights and UN. The course really made me think about our planet and other people. Writing this journal was a good way to deal with all the emotions and feelings that the lessons gave me. I also managed to fulfill the goal I was aiming at during the course, which was to increase my English skills.”
“And at the end: the course was good, it REALLY was. I have always been complaining that students do not learn by reading and studying, they learn by DOING. That is why the course was good. And I think it was important to have those visitors! The only thing that irritated me, was that there was so much hard vocabulary, it made me feel like I know nothing about English. So I seriously prefer that courses like this should be taught.”
Hopefully there are eager young minds in our school in two years so that I am able to teach this kind of course again. In the next study year we’ll go back to something we already know very well: there is a GLOBAL ME – course run by an international group of students from AIESEC.
Let’s keep on thinking globally!
This lesson was very interesting. We had a lovely guest from the US, Kandace Sheri. She introduced us some typical aspects of the lifestyle in the southern states and her own American accent. A wonderful continuum in relation to the course topics was that she also talked quite a lot about different holidays, especially Halloween.
“It was great to hear English from someone who speaks it as a native language! It really sounded wonderful and from the first second she started to speak, I had to whisper to my friend: “She sounds lovely”.
“I remember what Kandace taught us about Halloween and the haunted houses. I must say that she was one of the best guests we had during this course! She was entertaining and chatty.”
Our next guest cancelled so we continued on our own. We talked a bit more about drama, its history and its significance in relation to the development of societies.
Then we started comparing holidays and festivals in different countries. Students worked in groups, looked for information related to the festival assigned to them and then presented a summary of their findings to the rest of the class. We learned more about Halloween, Christmas festivities in Britain and Guy Fawkes Day, to name but a few.
“I learned so much about different feasts. It was also very funny to look for information about Valentine’s day :)”
Our lovely guest Mariam Moghaddan from Iran told us about the culture in her home country. There were some quite surprising facts that we hadn’t realized before. In the Middle East, Iran seems to be unique in many ways.
This is what a couple of my students wrote in their journals:
“I learned about Iran’s religious conflicts. I feel smarter again.”
“…why are they fighting there. That got me think about news in new way.”
This lesson was a bit different. We didn’t have foreign guests. We didn’t talk about any “serious” topics either. We had our own drama teacher Varpu Kolehmainen working with us. We dived into the world of drama! We were active speakers using our senses when plunging into the unknown.
A student’s thought:
“Today’s lesson was so different and so much fun with Varpu! I like to perform and do stuff rather than read just something from a book, so it was really great!”
We had a lovely visitor in the lesson: Maya Sofya from Indonesia. Maya introduced her own culture and told the students about working in a foreign country as an au pair.
“We had a visitor, Maya, from Indonesia. She was here to talk about Indonesian culture, nature and a little bit of language. It was really fun to hear about her time not only back home in Indonesia but also her time as an au pair in Finland.”
“My honest opinion is that it is absolutely great to have people telling about their culture and country, because it teaches me much more than a school book can teach.”
On this lesson we had a bit more serious topics again. Visa Virtanen from the UN federation in Finland worked with the students on themes related to the UN Millennium Goals, mainly to water and sanitation. The students got to work a lot in groups, which was very good.
In some of the students’ opinion:
“Our guest was really sympathetic.”
“The poster thing/exercise was good and different, I liked it :). And the video was great too.”
Another English teacher in our school, Anna Grubert, took charge of one lesson. She taught the students about Creole and Pidgin languages. For many it was the first time they heard such languages even existed, let alone the fact that quite many of them were based on English.
A student’s view on the lesson:
“I was really confused in the beginning of the lesson, but later I got really interested in those pidgins and creoles. The Hawai’i Creole language was just lovely and sweet and everything in between.”
In the following lesson we went through the basics of creating a cut-out animation. We would use an Android application Clayframes for the work. Since there was not very much time for the actual work in the course, the students were given instructions and the theme for their films. They needed to start the planning but finish it outside lessons, either face-to-face or by using a cloud service.
“Today we finally started our animations! We divided into groups of three and started brain work: we had to come up with a good but simple idea for the animation projects. I think we did fine…”