On the Wizard of Oz and Winter Camp

So, I’m half way through winter camp.  It isn’t really camp, more like special classes for the students, even though they are on vacation.  Kind of a bummer if you ask me, but since they only asked me to do the camp, not my opinion, I’ll just do my best to make it interesting.

So… At first I was going to do “Windtalkers” the movie, with a book I had found about the Navajo code talkers and some video clips from World War II.  When I talked to my students about the idea, they seemed less than enthused . To put it mildly.  Since I do love my students and want them to be happy, despite their vacation being used up by winter camp, I changed my theme.  We are doing the “Wizard of Oz”

I worked so hard.  I got the book on CD. Downloaded a copy from literature.org,  bought the original movie on DVD, downloaded “The Wiz”, got several songs from YouTube that referenced the movie and book, created listening worksheets, created writing prompts. I figured if we did 3 chapters a day, we could finish in two weeks. Easy. Ha.

Well….. I may have over stretched myself a little bit. I got a bit over excited about the whole thing.  So my students said, “Teacher- it’s too hard” — usually they will say “Teacher- too hard– video!” and I will say “Video? hahahaha…. no.”  and then I will say “Get to work” But when my good students say “Teacher – it’s too hard, I don’t know the vocabulary” or “Teacher it’s too hard, you are going too fast”  I have to re-evaluate my approach.

We are not doing 3 chapters a day now. We are doing one chapter a day.  I decided that instead of the book on CD for listening, I would do a cloze test for the music videos.  And I am surprised at how much they love the movie. I was worried it would be too old and too old-fashioned for them. But they do love it.

My favorite is when they said they liked the Dorothy in the original movie more than in the Wiz, because in the original movie Dorothy is strong and brave.  Although they like the music in the “Wiz” better.  We are doing a lot of compare and contrast now, and most of my worksheets will languish in a folder in my computer.  It’s ok, I just want them to enjoy one of the greatest movies of all time.

I am really proud of my students.  They are working with me to make the camp fun, and they are working really hard on understanding the book and the vocabulary.  I’m proud of them for keeping an open mind about old fashioned movies and for loving music and for being great kids.

Sometimes teaching is hard. We want our students to love the same things we do, and we want them to be as excited by our subject as we are.  Most of the time, my students don’t want to be at school. At all.  And especially during winter camp.  I only hope that I can show them how much I love English, and maybe they will see it as  more than just vocabulary lists, and grammar rules, and tests. Maybe I can show them how beautiful the language really is, and how fun and playful it can be.   I just have to try not to get over excited again.


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