View Full Version : Elementary curriculum

August 4th, 2010, 11:14
So in a meeting with my elem. school this morning, they asked me to create an entire year's curriculum for each elementary grade (1-6) on my own. Thats a crap ton of lessons. I need ideas! Just lesson topics (ie. body parts, weather, days of the week... those are all the usual ones, but I need more)
Very much grateful for any ideas you can list for me here. :)

August 4th, 2010, 11:26
how many lessons exactly?

August 4th, 2010, 11:45
I was having fantastic luck with my weekly phonics lessons at my visit school, right up until I got a new JTE, who promptly shut the whole experiment down. The kids were doing incredibly well, and it's ridiculously easy to incorporate phonics into a wide variety of games and shit. I highly recommend it. Or you could just do what my JTE is doing now--Eigo Note.

August 4th, 2010, 11:46
hmm....I guess it's somewhere around 96 lessons total. Starting from 1st grade and up...
grades 1-4, about 48 total lessons (once a month per each grade)
grades 5, 6, another 48 (twice a month per each grade)

August 4th, 2010, 11:49
I was having fantastic luck with my weekly phonics lessons at my visit school, right up until I got a new JTE, who promptly shut the whole experiment down. The kids were doing incredibly well, and it's ridiculously easy to incorporate phonics into a wide variety of games and shit. I highly recommend it. Or you could just do what my JTE is doing now--Eigo Note.

I have to write a draft of a curriculum sequentially by lesson. So if you had any order of topics in your time teaching there (i.e. "today.... we will do consonants b-h" please send 'em on over)

August 4th, 2010, 11:59
stop moaning then, if its once a month then it will probably only be 10 lessons a year for the 1-4 because of school holidays and the like.
do the same topic with each year but ramp up the difficulty
1st - 6 fruits
2nd - 10 fruits
3rd - i like apples
4th - my favorite fruit is melon

if you cant think of 10 separate topics then you should reconsider your username.

as for the 5-6 chuck in some harder stuff like months of the year etc. because you see them twice a month you can spend 2 lessons on each topic. this will allow you to do longer projects like making calendars or some shit like that.

August 4th, 2010, 12:02
as for phonics, if you see the 5-6 twice a month then just do 2 letters at the start of each lesson - 1st lesson A+B, 2nd C+D etc.... it only takes 5 minutes and if you review each time they will have them all done by halfway through the year and you can spend the second half doing quick phonic games to improve their reading. it'll be a good warm up exercise

August 4th, 2010, 13:05
I do around 12 lessons a year with each grade, 1st and 2nd grade basically repeat each other, same with 3rd and 4th. 5th and 6 are eigo note now.

1st year they do
harro my name is,
what's this? it's a *fruit*,
do you like *fruit*, yes I do/no I don't,
do you like *vegetable* yes I do / no i don't
what colour do you like (i like *colour*)
body parts (heads shoulders knees and toes)
numbers 0-12
What animal do you like? I like xxx

2nd year they essentially do the same thing but with different games.

3rd years do sports, food&drink, time, birthdays, weather, "how are you" etc.

You could always cheat and steal something from genkienglish.

August 4th, 2010, 17:25
in shiga there is a city (nagahama) that has a special es program and has been going on for like 10 years now. each of the ALTs there (15 JETs and 10ish direct hires) are ES only and often have like 2 ALTs per school --

if you can get in touch with one of them (there are a few on this site or you can go to the shiga group of eslwell.com) they have been making year long curriculum on their own for a long time, and even have a special text for it.

I never worked there, but iknow that the people that do work hard and the kids are actually learning a lot. in the rest of the prefecture you can tell in JHS and HS which kids came from Nagahama -- at least in their english ability!!

August 4th, 2010, 23:24
Thanks for all the ideas guys!

August 8th, 2010, 14:28
I have arrived in a DeLorean from the past! Word surely knows that I'm here to either complain about yobisute or talk about phonics. I am indeed inclined toward both of these activities, but I believe the latter is more productive in this context. So before I go back to reading really boring English, here:


This is a basic ES phonics lesson. If you look at the bottom of the post, two PDFs are attached. The "Phonics Tricks" PDF is something I put together with the help of other ALTs, especially Ampersand. I came here knowing little about formal pronunciation instruction, but knowledgeable sorts like Ampersand and some people I met at conferences taught me some great tips. The guide is oriented toward people without formal training, and includes simple Japanese explanations written entirely in hiragana. (The "old version" PDF is not particularly useful, but included for completeness.) You can also look at the original thread; on the second page, there are some more details about conducting the blackboard karuta game and some comments by others who have used it. http://www.ithinkimlost.com/teaching-lesson-plans/11087-phonics-tricks-arsenal.html I encourage you to use these resources, if they're helpful, and trust your qualifications as a college-educated native speaker – adapt as needed and be confident.

You can teach handy vocab this way -- dad, mom, cat, dog, hot, rock, whatever. More useful than "JAPANESE RADISH" or "FRIED PORK CUTLET".

I agree with others that by far the most valuable thing kids can take from ES English is pronunciation and the idea that English letters (not katakana) represent the sounds of English. When you teach the names of fruits, I think you should be focusing on how to say them well. Taking the vocab thing to an extreme level (e.g. cramming hundreds of words for fruits and vegetables into their heads) is not helpful. In language, especially, I believe one should be careful to avoid "negative learning". Every time they pronounce C-A-T as "kyatto", it actually sets them back a step. A large number of things taught to a mediocre standard does harm, but a small number of things well-taught can do considerable good.

Also: haha, the kitty is wrapped up in a sock or something. ^_^

August 12th, 2010, 16:00
I found this pdf last year while sitting at my BOE waiting for the school year to start.

August 23rd, 2010, 09:44
I found this pdf last year while sitting at my BOE waiting for the school year to start.

WAI~~!!!! Amazing thanks. I am new and this will really help out and give me some direction. I can really work off of this and adapt it to my style and schedule!

August 23rd, 2010, 12:20
yes, ninja, thanks. saved to my computer for later :)

August 24th, 2010, 16:14
Wow, thanks for sharing this, NinjaPenguin. I don't work with an Elementary School, but I do have children in that age group for my private lessons. This will be very helpful and just may help me to get some ideas for later lessons.

August 26th, 2010, 15:19
Glad I could help. Wish I could remember where I got it from.

August 26th, 2010, 15:46
Some of you posted helpful phonics stuff.
I've been playing around lately with the order to teach it. For example, is it best to teach the sounds in alphabet order, separate vowels and consonants, deal with tricky things like l and r on their own, etc.?
Anyone have any ideas that worked well for them?

This is kind of what sparked my interest:

I have changed my mind and now recommend going in order, starting from a .

August 26th, 2010, 17:37
I don't know; I didn't do alphabetical order, but I'm not sure if it was good or bad. I started with simple pairs of voiced and un-voiced consonants ([d]-[t], [b]-[p], [v]-[f], etc.) and hit a couple of vowel sounds. I started with [ɑ] and [æ]. I figured that by putting 'em in groups with similar mouth movements, the kids might be able to understand 'em more easily. It worked pretty well, I guess; the kids have a pretty good grasp of the sounds now, and my sixth graders from last year could sound out simple words with reasonable accuracy, even if they'd never seen the word before. I'm not teaching the 5th and 6th graders phonics any longer (they've "moved on" to Eigo Note), but I've started with 3rd and 4th graders, and they seem to have a reasonable grasp on things, as well... Time will tell, I suppose.

August 26th, 2010, 18:09
@ word:
yeah, good idea using the voiced/unvoiced pairs. That sounds similar to what Wakatta posted about using the difference between sa and za hiragana. Did your kids make that connection right away?

So you used a group of consonants + a few vowels in a lesson, or were the vowel lessons separate? I've been doing my vowels separately, but now I'm wondering....

Also, how did you assess the kids in sounding out the words? I'm running into trouble using a written way of doing this, because I don't know if I should teach them how to write letters yet (writing isn't supposed to be the focus)....maybe a circle the right missing letter worksheet? I want to avoid putting each kid on the spot and making them sound it out in front of the class, but I still want to measure their progress somehow.

hmm. I've been teaching /ei/ instead of [ɑ]? I know [ɑ] is an accurate reading (and more familiar because of romaji), but I'm afraid to teach this one first because it's not so commonly occurring in (American) English, and my kids always tend to confuse it with [æ]. I teach /ei/ and /æ/ as the main two readings of A. Thoughts, anyone?

apologies for all the questions. My JTE has been mining me for phonics ideas lately (awesome, right?!)
That link Wakatta posted was really helpful, too. But my j-go sucks so I can't use it line-for-line.

August 30th, 2010, 09:15
I think that going in order works fine; it saves some "did we do this?" headaches and also gives the kids a clearer sense of progress. Furthermore, I think that singling out "hard" letters could be counterproductive: one of my major objectives in phonics teaching is to walk them through it without any "muzukashiiiiiiiii!" or suggestion that some letters are "too hard for Japanese people". Anyway, I think alphabetical works fine for the consonant/vowel issue: you have an "a" to start with so that you can create pronouncable words.

It occurs to me that I stuck the second link in the middle of a paragraph, where it might not have been easily seen. Here are the two links:


The second goes into more detail on how to make the individual sounds, including vowel sounds. I recommend talking about "strong" (つよい) and weak (よわい) vowels. I think that the "weak" vowel sounds should be treated as most fundamental, and strong vowel sounds introduced only later. So cat, hat, map. Then introduce the "magic e" sort of principle and show how hat becomes hate and nap becomes nape when an e is tacked on. (As always, I think it's good to tell them that you're teaching them tricks that usually work, not stating rules which are always followed. Don't freak them out with weird irregular words, but don't say, "this letter is always pronounced like this". I would especially suggest highlighting that vowel sounds are often irregular.) Honestly, I wouldn't do much with strong vowels to start with: they're already pretty easy to pronounce for them, and katakana often has them using strong vowels in odd ways.

As for J-Go:
1) Just in case you meant that you weren't so comfortable with kana – I strongly urge you to spend the two weeks or so that it takes to get really comfortable with kana.
2) If you have trouble understanding the Japanese explanations, and your JTE is asking about phonics, you might try just showing the Japanese explanations to your JTE.

As for measuring progress, this depends to some degree on the size of the class. I mostly did things as a group because I had a large class and limited time. If you are not so constrained, I would suggest simply showing individual kids short three-letter words (or even individual letters) and having them sound it out. The usual teaching caveats apply: you need to be able to do this in a way that's fun, you need to make sure it won't be way too hard for them, you need to know how to handle the situation when kids shake their heads and clam up, etc.

You might also consider printed-out alphabet cards: they can construct words in response to your verbal prompts using the cards. Or perhaps put them in groups, and have a game where they spell out what you say by arranging cards. You could have some fun with this by pronouncing, or trying to pronounce, mistaken combinations. (Guaranteed to get some laughs.)

Finally, I'll +1 Word's suggestion. In fact, I would sometimes even write "f-tenten" (i.e., f") just like with kana – framing it as a bit of a joke.

August 30th, 2010, 10:09
Wakatta, I want to thank you so much for all your help here!

Good point about going in order. The alphabet does kinda lend itself to having words to work with, even before you're finished with all the letters. And makes it more simple all around :)
When do you introduce common alternate sounds for consonants? (ex: g as in gene, and c as in cell)

yeah, the strong and weak vowel thing is where I'm at right now with my sixth graders. I just call it reading #1 and #2, but I've been searching for an easy phrase to tack onto them (not a fan of "long" and "short" vowels. Maybe strong and weak is better). The homeroom teacher in my 6th grade class explained it to the students as different "readings" of the letter, similar to how Kanji has different readings. Not quite the same, but it helped the students accept the concept.

A fun way I have them practice making the vowel sounds in context of words is singing the "Apples and Bananas" song and changing the vowels each time (ex: ooples and boonoonoos).

About the j-go. I am comfortable with kana. I'm just reluctant to try to explain things in a level of j-go exceeding my abilities. If the kids became confused, I couldn't clarify, or I might lead them to believe my j-go is better than it is (which could be really confusing for a little kid when later he asks me a question in j-go and I stare blankly). Help from homeroom teachers is limited (no JTEs in my elem.)
I'm slowly getting better at j-go; I explain what I can, and the rest I get by with pictures, modeling and examples. But yeah, it's a constant process in the works. がんばります!

Good idea of giving them alphabet cards and having them spell out words to evaluate. I'll have to start building a stock of cards.
Sometimes, as a whole group, when I do a fill-in-the-missing-letter on the board - your right - they always uproar when I pronounce mistaken combinations.:)

August 31st, 2010, 02:00
No problem! Thank you for putting in the effort to generate some real learning in your elementary school classes. I think it also just plain makes sense: if you ask the average person to teach English to a space alien, probably the first thing they might do (after "Me...Wakatta! You ... Florb! Me...Wakatta! You...Florb!") would be to start writing "cat" on a blackboard ... not reading katakana glosses of flashcards for "JAPANESE SLIPPERS". I am deeply dismayed by what can happen without phonics: they start memorizing English word-shapes like kanji, with mental furigana in Japanese syllables.

I kept it simple to start with: only weak vowel sounds, and only the most common pronunciation of consonants. (I was however sure to explain that I am only teaching them the common pronunciation. I would often refer to the sound as the "基本の音(きほんのおと)". (I'm not even sure if that grammar is correct!) I want them to be aware that there's more to it, but I also would suggest not going out into the special rules until they're really competent with the basics. That said, if someone writes up a "ce" word, I might use the opportunity to explain that before "e", "c" is usually a "sssss" sound.

Apples and bananas: perfect! Perhaps, even, once they've been singing it for a long time and they've learned some basic phonics, you can teach them how to write/read that lyric. (As a medium-term goal.)

For explanations: where time allows, you might consider talking with a homeroom teacher, teaching them how to make the sound, and asking them to please help explain it to the children in Japanese.

I would also emphasize that I had a lot of fun, and success, with the "orchestration" approach: conducting the class like a musical conductor, e.g., "sssssssssssssaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad." (For instance, drawing my hand through the air sideways, bringing it up for a vowel sound and down to baseline for a consonant, perhaps stopping it firmly for a hard consonantal stop.) Ssssssssaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmm. Sssaaaamm. Ssssaaam. Saaaam. Sam. Sam Sam." I would then keep silent and have them do a new word, while using my hand in the same way as a cue.

September 3rd, 2010, 15:45
Tried some really simple l / r activities today for 5th grade and they went over really well.

For my last lesson, I had made flashcards with l and r words (light, red, lice, rice, right, rabbit....ect.) and went over the vocabulary only. That way they would be familiar with the words for the lesson today.

Then today I taught them the pronunciation difference, emphasizing the tongue out for l, and the lips rounded for r.
I brought some shiny little stones and gave one to the first kid in each row; each student practiced saying a word and passed the stone back.

Then I had the class push their desks aside and line up in the middle. I drew an "l" on the left side of the chalk board, and an "r" on the right, with a line down the middle. One by one I help up the picture cards (ex: light) and said the words slowly. Each time the students had to decide which side of the room to run to; and checked by seeing me put the card correct side of the board.

After that I gave each student a small card with a picture (ex: rabbit) and they had to decide which side of the room without the help of looking at their friends (who had different cards).

I finished with an easy worksheet with pictures of a set of words (ex: liver and river, rice and lice) and they had to decide which was l and r from listening to my pronunciation.

For most everything I spoke in simple English and used gestures/modeling, but Japanese words I found helpful were 発音 (hatsuon, pronunciation), 丸 (maru, circle- to describe lips for r), and the usual たとえば (for example).

September 24th, 2010, 20:02
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