View Full Version : New High School ALT lesson planning ideas

October 6th, 2014, 17:33
Hey guys, new ALT teaching at a high-level academic high school here (ichi-nensei and ni-nensei only)! I keep getting told by my teachers to "just play games" with my kids for lessons - but I'm a bit limited by a few challenges. First is that the kids are absolutely unable to speak up individually in class. For my self-introduction I had a competitive quiz game and it was PAINFUL because no one would answer. So activities involving student-teacher interaction are more or less out. Second, my classes are gigantic (40-50 students) so pretty much any game has to have "teams". Third, access to the whiteboard is cumbersome so whiteboard-based games are also very difficult. Finally, the desks are fixed in the room with two people per desk so the students can't move their desks into groups.

What are your favourite games to play with students? I have put together an "Amnesia" game (where students get a card with a famous person on it and must ask their group yes/no questions to find out who they are), Scattergories, English Shiritori, and Boggle. Anyone have any other guaranteed games their students enjoy that might fit my limitations...?

Also, my teachers want me to do a Halloween lesson where we "just have fun". Due to the constraints I've just listed, I've been wracking my brain to think of fun activities that they can actually appreciate. So far what I've got is a race between groups to see who can put a Japanese ghost story told in English into the correct order, Halloween based Scattergories, and watching the Thriller music video and listening for certain phrases to get candy. Any thoughts/ideas/suggestions to make this more "fun"?? Apparently I can just play games but I think that's kind of lame to just have one Halloween based thing and then just do normal games after.

Sorry this is so long. I'm more or less in charge of all my classes with no prior teaching experience and my predecessor left me zilch in terms of advice or materials. So I'm kind of in need of some advice!

October 6th, 2014, 23:34
I can't remember the site but there is a whole website of games out there. If one of the other people on here can't remember what it's called (something with -pedia on the end maybe?) then do some googling and you'll find it. There's also this - Teaching & Lesson Plans [Archive] - ITIL JET Programme / Japan Forum (http://www.ithinkimlost.com/archive/index.php/f-9.html)

Fun fact: each child has a class number from 1 - however many there are in the class. I used to force kids to speak up by making an omikuji with card and some chopsticks with numbers on. Worked a treat.

I just found this too Teaching & ALT Resources on Pinterest | 93 Pins (http://www.pinterest.com/carmon520/teaching-alt-resources/)

October 7th, 2014, 08:31
If it's a high level academic high school, why are you playing so many games? Have you been given any rationale?

October 7th, 2014, 09:31
Low level ALTs.

October 7th, 2014, 12:56
Put your foot down with your teachers, and don't let them make you the game monkey. Look at what they are currently learning and offer productive/constructive ideas which complement the current learning objectives. They treated me like this at my school at the beginning and I told them I'm not here to play simon says with the kids, let's do something connected to their existing classes, or give me part of the textbook to teach in a structured way (for instance, I handle a lot of the composition tasks now where the teachers would rather not be involved in)

October 7th, 2014, 16:14
More recently teachers are being asked to write an aim on the board that the class revolves around. "Play a game" won't cut it. Mixing an aim with games and activities works so much better.

For or holidays I mix culture with English and games. I've played monster karuta where students have to listen to clues rather than the monster names (can be nice with a grammar point), zombie shooting games with a mix of level-based questions as a form of review, showed Halloween video clips and asked content questions, and so on. For conversation classes, I've had kids talk about their scariest moment, if they've seen ghosts, and tell me about Japanese monsters. Telling scary stories in a circle or on paper are fun too - it always turns out being an obnoxious thing about another teacher or student. Oh, I've also got a monster guess who game for yes/no question practice (can grab stuff off here: Category:Melissa Noad activities - Akita Wiki (http://akitajet.com/wiki/Category:Melissa_Noad_activities)). Those idea are ones that have worked well personally.

I had plenty JTEs who just want games - doesn't matter what (no leadership, no goals, relentless "anything is okay" discussions, so I spent countless hours stockpiling and making games as review tools based on Eiken levels or a grammar point. Some ALTs don't have regularity in classes to make textbook coordination possible. My last year I focussed on culture and travel, and that's what students clung to the most from what they've told me in letters. Therefore, lessons like that might also work for you.

A tip tip about whiteboards - you can make your own for students to use in groups. Just laminate a piece of paper and buy packs of white board markers from Daiso. If you make extras with magnets on the back, you can pre-write things in prep for class for all to see so you don't have to waste time in class writing.

October 7th, 2014, 18:25
Thank god they are listening to the idea that lessons should have a purpose beyond "get through the chapter without killing ourselves" also to hell with the game only teachers.

October 8th, 2014, 06:02
Yeah, especially when it comes to ALT evaluation time. If an ALT's role isn't made into one that has clear aims where students can show success, that's a lot of wasted time. Because of my own stretched schedule, I found making the aim of realistically teaching English mostly futile. I had only one class that I taught regularly and my English club, both where the results were really showing, but otherwise, it was impossible to know my impact. In my last year I realized that teaching about other countries was more realistic and more and more students were showing interest in travel (a smaller MEXT outcome, but realistic to my own position). The best way to use an ALT will depend on the ALT's situation. Playing games for the sake of games/dancing/the like are things I mostly did with my special visiting school. Academic schools can handle more content, or content can be transformed into a game (I can sometimes get more work/practice out of kids if something is made into a game). If you have a sit down and think about realistic goals that work in your situation and amount of time you have with your students, you can get more out of your time. Small discussions about class aims and your role in that aim with your JTE can help. Some will still say "we trust your judgement, do what you want, etc.," but it's worth a try, even if you have to do it many times.

I've put a list of Step Eiken grammar goals in this forum, but it has yet to be critiqued by anyone. However, it could help to think of lesson ideas by being able to see what they will be tested on.

October 10th, 2014, 21:18
It might be easier to stick with what they're learning in the textbook rather than what kind of tests they might take since all the kids might not take them. Plus, there's a ton of different tests out there with all sorts of different goals. Step Eiken is the most popular, but there's also the Zenshou Eiken (for business schools), TOEIC, GTEC, and, for the kids interested in studying abroad, IELTS and TOEFL. That's not includings the various national mock exams and university entrance exams.

You don't have to teach specific grammar points either. You can do activities that'll improve their general communication abilities such as guessing unknown words from context or extending a conversation beyond the basic back and forth interview. Or you could always do lessons based on situations like making travel plans or giving directions. At least they'd be learning something they could potentially use.

Definitely don't let your JTE get into the "anything is OK" habit. Because even if they say it's ok, it's probably not, and they're just ok-ing your lesson to make you get out of their hair or so that they don't have to tell you it sucks and risk hurting your feelings. Nip that shit in the bud.

December 10th, 2014, 22:01
Hey, this might be bad forum etiquette with such a late reply but I just want to thank everyone for your excellent replies and advice. Good to hear some perspective. I will definitely check out those sources that have been linked - thank you so much! And Namisuke - that idea for the whiteboards is such a good idea!! Thanks so much!!

I definitely think we could be doing more here -- I'll be more persistent with it from now on. Cheers!

December 11th, 2014, 13:11
Only with more people posting an sticking around will this board have more use.