Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Original Lesson 9: Exclamation Fist Pumps in the Colosseum

This is a little violent for Valentines Day but you'll understand the link towards the end.

I am a big believer in inquiry learning or teaching the why. Like most things, that's easy to say but can be hard to do well in practice. To a significant extent inquiry learning is about asking why something exists. For example: Why do exercise books have lines? Answser: So that we write relatively straight and, thereby, most people will use less space per line and reading is genearlly easier if it can be done in a linear fashion. But it should also be about teaching how something came into existence because knowing the origins of something brings even more context to its reason for being.

To illustrate, this is how I teach exclamation marks to students. I suppose the standard lesson on exclamation marks is to draw one on the board and say that it adds emphasis to a sentence.

My inquiry-based version is to commence the lesson in Ancient Rome, where I play quick clip of the Gladiator movie trailer:

I ask the children if they know where the movie is set and then if anyone knows the main language that Ancient Romans spoke (Latin). I ask the children how they think a gladiator would feel after being victorious in a battle at the Colosseum. After discussing the full range of answers, I elaborate on responses such as 'happy' or 'yaa hoo'. I explain that in Latin this would be written as 'oi', which was the way 'joy' was spelt. I add that many words in English developed from Latin and point out the similarity between 'oi' and joy. It is thought that, one day, someone wrote this 'oi' as:
to add even more emphasis to their joy.

Thus, the exclamation mark was born!

Students then create their own exclamation mark, cutting out a long thin line and a circle using black paper, and stick it on their forearm:

As mock gladiators, with care to ensure the safety of everyone in their vicinity, they make exclamatory statements such as 'Let the battle begin!' and 'A lion is behind you!', ensuring to pump their exclamation fist at the end of their sentence. When they start to run short of phrases, I provide them with other themes, such as Valentines Day, where students might exclaim 'I love you!' or 'Be mine!'

Suddenly, teaching exclamation marks is more exhilarating, romantic and, even, potentially life-threatening!


Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
I hope your recent prac has been full of positive exclamation marks!

Anna Kapnoullas said...

Hi Carolyn,
Fantastic times so far!!!