I’m constantly thinking of ways that I can combine what I love into my lessons. Does this make me a self-centered teacher? Perhaps in some aspects, but it’s also because I believe that if I can incorporate what I love into my classes then my passion for teaching would be able to really manifest. I want the students to know that I love what I do – and that hopefully, the enthusiasm will rub off on them. In The Postcard Project (really original name, I know), I was able to combine my love for postcards and my longing for home into a culturally meaningful lesson.
I decided to ultimately do this project with my fifth graders because they would still be around when I came back from Canada and they have the English ability to be able to tackle this project.
Students, in groups of 4, designed and wrote postcards to my friends and family back home. I had to first run this by my co-teachers – and then I started asking many of my family members and friends whether they would be interested in participating. Luckily for me, I have amazing people in my life who are always so eager to help me out in these international projects that I’ve been doing all year. I was worried about how many people would actually agree and how much they could sign up for – I have a lot of fifth graders (even when they’re working in groups). As it turns out, I had a good amount of volunteers – with a good couple who were eager to do more.
With my classes, the students sometimes find it hard to believe that what we’re doing is really international. They’re constantly asking if what we do is actually in interaction with those in Canada. But since I have done the Skype sessions with this grade, they were more inclined to believe me with this postcard project. I did provide a template of sorts for my students but encouraged them to deviate from it with their own comments and questions. I need to provide a template because while most students understand questions and the key expressions we learned during the year, it’s still a little hard for some of them to expand on this knowledge and be more creative in English.
I took pictures of the students with their postcards in order to remember who wrote them and to also provide faces to the postcards for my friends and family back home to see. And in return, my students can also see who they wrote to and who they’re getting their replies from.
The students in Korea have been quite taken with the movie Frozen and its songs – and this is reflected in their postcards. Some of them drew Olaf or Elsa – and two postcards asked my favourite question – “Do you want to build a snowman?”
My trip home in February was highlighted by the time I got to spend with my family and friends. And while meeting up with these important people, I was able to distribute and collect the postcards. I had some amazing friends who wrote individual postcards to each student that wrote to them. And some postcards were handmade and were just absolutely amazing. I am always in awe of how much talent my friends have and I am so grateful for all the time that they spent in making and writing back to my students.
The picture above is the PowerPoint slide that I put together for the students. So that they can put a face to who wrote back to them. The students were so excited and eager to get to know their person and spent a lot of time reading and understanding the postcards. It took me awhile to wrap up the project because there were 7 classes of students who were now all in completely different classes. I had to coordinate lunch time meetings with the students in order for them to battle it out with each other for the special honour of keeping the postcard. Of course, through a rough game of rock-paper-scissors.
I’m sorry that this post took so long to put together. I’ve been… otherwise preoccupied with the new year and all the changes that this year has brought.
Once again, thank you again to all those who participated.