Monday, June 25, 2012

Teaching Adjectives using Schoolhouse Rock's 'Unpack Your Adjectives'

I've written quite a few about materials and activities for teaching writing, but I seldom touch on grammar. I never neglect grammar, but whenever I start a grammar lesson in the classroom, my pupils would groan and pretend to suffer. 

I know drills and practices and notes and homework are boring. I know that I should get creative and make my pupils fall in love with grammar. Actually, my initial plan was to compile all the resources and activities  for grammar teaching in the form of a module, but working on a new module is going to be quite a big project and would take a lot of my time, and time is what I don't have right now. Heheh. So I think the next best thing would be to just record whatever ideas that I have or resources that I stumbled upon in the form of blog posts. I'm thinking that perhaps some day when I finally get the time to sit down and work on the module, all I need to do is just refer to my notes here in this blog.

I'm going to start with the teaching of adjectives because I've just conducted the lesson recently, and it was a success, the pupils loved it. I used a video clip of the song 'Unpack Your Adjectives', a classic adjective song by Schoolhouse Rock. The song was written by George Newall and performed by Blossom Dearie, and I think it is the sweetest and cutest song ever. I love it, and my pupils love it too.

The activities:

I explain that adjectives are words that describe people, places, things, animals and plants. Then, I let the pupils watch the video clip. After they finish watching it, I would encourage them to talk about the video and the song. Do they like it? Why? What can they see in the video? Can they identify the adjectives in the video?

Then, I let them watch the video for a second time. This time, I ask the pupils to list down the adjectives that they see in the video. After the video ends, I would let the pupils compare their list with their friends.

The next step is to get the pupils to understand each and every adjective that they have listed down. There are a few ways of doing this. First, we could do it the old-fashioned (and boring) way. Search the meanings in the dictionary and write them in the vocabulary book. Memorise, memorise. Then do exercises.

Or, I could make it a bit more interesting. I could write the meanings of each adjective on word cards and scatter them all over the room. We could play Scavenger Hunt, I would put the pupils in groups of four or five and ask them to look for the word cards. When they find it, they would need to match each adjective to the word card that has the corresponding meaning written on it.

After the Scavenger Hunt ends, we could sit down and watch the video again. I could let the pupils have a copy of the lyrics of the song so they could sing along with the video.

Click here for the lyrics of the song: Unpack Your Adjectives

Cloze tests, multiple-choice questions or other types of exercises may be given as homework; as a follow-up to reinforce the pupils' understanding of the topic and to help familiarise them with examination questions.

I hope that this post is going to be the first post (but not the last, he he he) in a series of posts about activities and resources to teach grammar in a fun and interesting way that I hope to work on. In the next post, I hope to share another interesting video that I've used to teach comparative and superlative adjectives. In the meantime, if you have any ideas or resources on grammar teaching that you would like to share with me, feel free to leave a comment below. Till the next post, happy teaching! ;-)

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