So the last fews days of teaching have been pretty decent. I've assigned debate topics to my more advanced 12th graders, which requires them to do some research outside of class. On Wednesday and Thursday I had the first debate classes, and they went pretty well. One of the groups even brought in a laptop and gave a Powerpoint presentation! I look forward to next week's debate classes. I'm also planning to show "An Inconvenient Truth" to the classes that have already debated, since one of their topics was global warming.
As for the younger kids, when I'm not teaching somewhat stale lessons out of a textbook, I make up worksheets on various topics. For example, I had one with a simple love story (only 7 lines long) and I had them add adjectives to it, as well as whole sentences. I also had a sheet with an advertisement, and we talked about advertising a bit (analyzing what adverts don't tell us). My latest worksheet was on jokes. I started out the class talking about humor, giving them vocab along the way, like slap-stick comedy. I even demonstrated some slap-stick by pretending to slip on a banana peel and fall on my rearend. The kids thought it was the funniest thing when their 'teacher' actually fell in the classroom (and some looked sort of shocked, not sure if it was on-purpose or not).
I didn't plan a lesson for my 8th graders today. In fact, I walked in the door not really sure what I was going to do. Then it hit me, I'd have them write sentences. But, to make it fun, I had them work in groups. Each group had a sheet of paper, folded into four columns. In the first column one of the group members had to write a noun; in the second another group member wrote a verb; in the third, a preposition; and in the fourth, a place. The catch was that no one knew what the whole sentence was until the end, because each group member wrote their word without the rest of the group seeing it. They loved it. I remember one sentence was something like: "My earwax dripped on the coffin." I encouraged them to think of the wackiest nouns, verbs and adjectives they could. It worked so well, I ended up using it for my 9th graders too. They started out saying "aww man, are we gonna do grammar?? We're too cool for grammar!" But, by the end they were really into it.
I also paid a visit to the school's library today. I'd peeked in before, and it looked intersting, but I didn't have enough time to really look around. However, today I had some free time. The librarian, rather excited I had stopped by, gave me a tour of the library's most prized possessions, including several books from the 1700's, and a HUGE leather atlas with many maps well over 200 years old. I found one map of Italy that was so old that the shape of the country looked nothing like the 'boot' peninsula we all know, and Sicily was massive. I'm guessing they didn't have Google Maps back then. There were also several maps of "Germany," well before the country was unified. The craftsmanship of these maps was impressive- many had intricate pen and ink artwork at the top, and some showed early attempts at topography (I never knew that hundreds of years ago mountians were arranged in neat grid-patterns). Also included was a German world map, which depicted the Americas, the Thirteen Colonies, and a rather misshapen Middle East. It was all really amazing, and in really good condition.
Another thing of note: I found out tonight my school has a climbing wall in the basement! I've been attending meetings of "Club Concordia," which meets in the school basement every Friday evening at 7:00. It's the local hiking club, with members from three of the highschools in town. Usually they show slideshows of previous hikes, and plan new excursions. We already have snow in the mountains next to Lugoj (I saw it while walking to school today), and perhaps next weekend we're going to go skiing. In any case, tonight there was no slideshow. Instead, the kids decided to climb. When I heard this, I was intrigued...climb? where? They opened a door, which revealed a back room with a climbing wall. Not a big one, mind you (the cielings in the basement are only 8-10 feet high). But, nevertheless, there was a climbing wall, complete with a small bouldering course! I was amazed! So, of course, I climbed. It was fantastic!