5th grade, Upper Case Alphabet

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Name of Teacher: Jennifer Clapham
Class/Grade/Language Level: Elementary School Grade 5
Textbook and specific lesson: Hi, Friends! 1 Lesson 6 (Hour 1)
Goal: Become comfortable with the names and shapes of upper case alphabet, with focus on pronunciation and form.
Preparation: One set of flippable alphabet cards with cartoon characters pasted on the backs (one character per card, two of each character in the set).
Class time: 45 minutes

We usually start class with a warmup janken game; each time I will give a specific criterion to fulfil in order to sit down (loser sits down, if you win twice you may sit down, etc.). The last person standing gets asked two questions, preferably based on topics they've already covered in your classes, and does janken with the teacher. If they lose, they must answer a further question before they may sit down.

Practice the alphabet. Check they know the order of the alphabet characters (the ABC song can be a good way to practice this), then mix it up by asking for the letters out of order, asking students to shut their eyes while you remove cards, etc. Make sure to focus on the “difficult” letter groups: “B&V”, “L&R”, “M&N” “J&G” etc. I tend to over-exaggerate my mouth shapes and encourage the students to do the same thing. It helps them remember in the short term, and by the next class they often seem better at distinguishing their sounds without the crazy mouth movements.

Have your flippable alphabet cards (one side is alphabet characters, the other is cartoon/cute characters) on the blackboard, alphabet side out. Ask a student to choose a card, and flip their selected card over to reveal the cartoon character. Explain that there are cartoon characters on the backs of the cards, and there are two of each character. Ask your student to choose another card. If he/she gets a match, you can praise them, award a point, or whatever. If the characters don't match, flip the cards back to their alphabet sides. Choose a new student and elicit two more letters. Having characters they recognise and like can motivate even your most miserable class (my least enthusiastic class were shouting and pointing and flailing beyond my wildest dreams ). You can also ask “What do you want?” before they tell you which letters they choose with “nani-nani, please”, so they have a chance of hearing the target grammar for this lesson before they start using it in the following weeks.

Now that they have practiced saying the alphabet, they can practice recognising the shapes. In pairs, get your students finding the letters hidden in the picture on pages 22-23 (whether they find a letter you dictate or find them freely is your call). When you come to confirm the letters' locations with the whole class make sure to elicit the vocabulary word as well (e.g. T – tree). If possible, at least make your students aware that the sound a letter makes in a word is different from the “name” of the letter. Use this activity to fine-tune their understanding of the shapes of the alphabet characters – one example that has come up a few times for me is the difference between “M” and “W”, the first and last strokes of “M” being vertical and parallel, whereas the first and last strokes of “W” are slanted.

I like to end this lesson with a game my students love, and it gets them up and moving around. Split your class into teams, and have them line up facing the blackboard. The back-most students in each team come to you and are told a letter without any of the other students seeing or hearing. Then they return to the line. When you say “Go~!”, the back-most student traces the letter shape with their finger on the back of the person in front (a variation is to have them whisper to the student in front), who does the same to the person in front of them, until it reaches the front-most person. The student at the front runs to the blackboard and taps the alphabet card they think was written on them (or writes it with chalk, to mix it up a little). The fastest correct team gets a point. Just watch out for that kid who's going to tap every card when he has no clue, because there's one in every class!

Going Forward: Lesson 6 of Hi, Friends! 1 is technically a five-hour lesson. I like to spend the first hour getting everyone to the same level with this lesson plan. From here, you can stick closely to the book's suggested lesson plan and grammar point, take the cue from the finding-letters activity and go down the phonics road, or a mixture of the two.