So to start, what is English Day? Well, as an ITF-er at Yeshurun, Emily and I are required to put on an English-based daylong event for our students. Since the grades we teach cover roughly 800 students, we made an executive decision that only the 8th graders would be participating in English Day. At the end of the day, not sure this was the right decision as the rest of the 7th and 9th graders looked googly-eyed at our “red carpet” for the Golden Globes. But, there was unfortunately no way even all fourteen fellows in PTK could handle 800 teen-aged girls :/ So we will spread the love by making sure next years’ fellows know to keep English Day for next year’s 8th graders!
And now comes the theme. In the past, our school did English Around the World or English Across America, and many PTK elementary schools chose the same theme this year. It’s an awesome idea, but last year’s fellows left a lot of those materials behind and we decided to take a completely different route to harness our creative power!
Modeled off of a traditional Golden Globes Award Ceremony in the States, we created a movie-themed day for our girls. We had three stations sandwiched between an Opening and Closing ceremony. We arranged the auditorium with large round tables (covered in classy black and white tablecloths), had place cards for nametags, and a giant red carpet leading up to our stage at the front of the room. To help the girls grasp the concept, we showed an introductory bit to one of the many Golden Globes, and had our own “opening act” with Emily and me as co-hosts! And boy, we could give Tina Fey and Amy Poehler a run for their money. We are funny.
The first of which, From Screen to Stage, involved skits that Emily and I wrote based on scenes from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Hunger Games, and The Lion King. Every girl got assigned one role from one movie (with a giant character tag of course), and had 15 minutes to practice their lines with their friends and then preformed for the rest of the group. The point was to practice reading aloud and adding enthusiasm instead of robotic speaking. We got lots of positive feedback from this one and some of the girls even stole their tags… one student walked around as Pumbaa for the rest of the day haha.
Popcorn Trailers was the more relaxing of the stations, and involved watching 5 “old” movie trailers that the girls were most likely not familiar with (Princess Diaries, Spy Kids, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Enchanted, and What A Girl Wants). Then, we had a worksheet on superlatives and comparatives featured below to reinforce the work they did earlier in the year.
Probably considered the more boring of the stations, hence the station that I obviously decided to teach, Everyone’s A Critic and centered on reading movie summaries and writing reviews. We looked at 3 classics: The Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and The Sound of Music. Emily and I wrote some succinct and relatively easy movie summaries and, using PowerPoint for visuals, we walked the girls through the movies. At the end, we had them fill out a critique worksheet to help them in picking their vote for the best movie.
While the entire school was a balagan all day, I would say things ran pretty smoothly and the girls had a lot of fun with everything we prepared for them! At the closing ceremony, we announced the 3 winning movies for the stations after we “counted all the ballots”… there were waaaay to many ballots to count so between me and you, we just picked our favorites and hoped for the best. We also named some “Best Actresses” from the skits station and handed out awards to our best helper student, Temima. Last but not least, we closed the ceremony with 3 of the girls singing Happy by Pharrell.
The preparations were extensive, working the bureaucracy of our school to physically make the day happen was nearly impossible, and finding synergy with the rest of the English department for supervision of the girls was hard to coordinate, but the final product is something I am very proud of. The content we worked on, the decorations we made, and the ability to pull off an event for 260 girls pretty much singlehandedly (Emily and I of course being the “single” part of that), felt like a huge accomplishment. With less than three weeks left of the school year, I think it was the perfect “final” note for the 8th grade and a cool new twist on their knowledge of English and American culture. כל הכבוד to us!