Thursday, September 3, 2015

Future's So Bright

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If you grew up in the 80s, you might remember Timbuk3's one-hit wonder, "Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades."  Even though I grew up in the 80s myself, I actually first learned of the song in 2011 when my daughter's third-grade teacher used the phrase to decorate the class door, along with a photo of each student wearing sunglasses.  The following year I took the idea and pictured my own students on my website wearing shades.

Well, it's now 2015, and most of those students have exited the ESL program and/or have graduated so I decided to recycle the idea.  This time, however, I've made it my theme for the year in an effort to remain positive and encouraging to my ELLs - many of whom struggle greatly in school because of their language deficiencies.  Instead of publishing their photo on my website, I developed a getting-acquainted type of project for the first week of school.

The project was titled "Selfie Portrait" and they were asked to create a flyer using the tool of their choice which would include the following:
  • Selfie wearing sunglasses 
  • Name as an alliteration
    • Example: Jovial Jonathan
    • Adjective must be positive
  • Birthday
  • Birthplace
  • Favorites list
    • Five or more
  • Attractive layout 
  • Balanced white space and font sizes
Students were given access to this Google doc where they obtained instructions for the project including a simple example featuring my son. While they were free to use the tool of their choice, most of the students used Pages, Keynote, Google Doc or Google Presentation.  This project gave me the chance to cover the concept of analogies that for many ELLs is quite challenging.  I played the song, which most didn't really care for but they did find the analogy interesting.  They especially enjoyed taking selfies, as most teenagers do.   The flyers are hung in my room, and whenever their lights start to dim, I pull out a set of shades and remind them to keep their future bright.  Pictured here are some snapshots of some of their products.

This activity can easily be implemented in an elementary classroom and can be adapted for a regular secondary class.  Regardless of age or English proficiency level, students will thoroughly enjoy taking selfies and getting acquainted with their peers.  For those that need a little encouragement, I find the positive adjectives affirm them and help them see themselves in a more positive light.

This started out as a getting-acquainted type of project for the first week of school, but I'm planning on keeping the flyers up all year long. I'm also planning to create a Kahoot game so we can have a little fun with the selfies and see how much they've learned about their peers.

I'm striving for the #BestYearEver.  Until next time, keep your shades on!

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