Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm pretty sure I'm the coolest teacher ever: Harry Potter Camp - Day 1 - Letters and Diagon Alley

Yes, I am that person.  I'm the person who sparks all sorts of controversy by teaching my fifth and sixth graders English through the means of Harry Potter.  For the record, I find the Harry Potter books to mirror the Gospel, and I have had friends come much closer to Christ through reading them.  Either way, these kids were already exposed to and talking about the Harry Potter series.  This way, I can guide them through it and help give them other things to think about on the subject.  You're more than welcome to write any controversial comment that you would like below, just know that I reserve the right to censor any inappropriate things you may have to say.

Moving on.

Originally, I was supposed to be teaching a very low-level English Camp this break, as in, teaching phonics low-level.  However, for reasons beyond my comprehension, my co-workers decided to, instead of hand-picking the students as promised, open the camp to any student who wanted to participate.  Luckily, Adam and I were still a day out from shooting all the video materials that I had planned for that camp when I was informed, so it was only... oh 20 or 30 hours of work down the drain, rather than the 100 or so I was anticipating.

Instead, I sided with the first thing that came to my mind, which I knew I would be able to have planned out all but instantly: Harry Potter Camp.

I was very excited to have this entry in my translator.

I opted to focus on the first book/movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  Now, I know it's been popular for a lot of my fellow Waygooks to focus on the later books/movies when teaching similarly themed camps, but I had my mind set on doing nothing higher than a PG rating.  If you have a hard time understanding why I was being that steadfast about my 11-and-12-year-olds' classroom-movie-watching habits, perhaps you should take a closer look at the American film rating guidelines.  I've been horrified at some of the things my students have been allowed to watch in school (like when my fourth graders came in, talking about how fun it had been to watch 300 the period before), so I was determined to take an extreme stand on my movie-policy.  I'm happy to report that I haven't had a single complaint.

For Day 1, we focused on the first part of the story: Harry's realization that he is a wizard.  Every student arrived to find one of these on their desks:

I assure you, it looked much better without the blurs to protect my students.
Which looked like this, once the seal was broken and the letter was unfolded:

I quoted the books as much as was reasonable.  Their Hogwarts Express tickets were also enclosed, but, somehow, there has been a glitch in the transfer of the file between computers, and a font is missing, so everything looks odd on it right now.

For the second half of class, we "went" to Digon Alley, where the students were able to buy their supplies.  My family and I spent a long time cutting out the sheets of Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts that I had printed out.  Each student had a key to a "vault," each vault containing a certain amount of money.  
I had already determined that the most plain key would have considerably more money than the rest, whereas what I considered to be the prettiest key would have considerably less than the rest.  Unfortunately, three of the students did not show up on the first day, preventing the students from being forced to pick the plain key, resulting in its being left unchosen.  I did explain what had happened, though.  Luckily, the girl who had picked the prettiest key was a good sport about it (I know her from my Saturday class), so no one started off the camp with a sour taste in their mouths.  
I spent a horrendously long time making wands for the kids, which they, of course, like, but don't nearly appreciate them they way they would had they put that kind of time into it themselves, and had some other printed things (consult their equipment lists to see more details) for them to buy.  They seemed to really have a blast.  Unfortunately, they tend to be incredibly indecisive, so the activity took a lot longer than I intended.  As a result, none of the kids' name tags got made, nor did their house ties.  Ah, well, there are worse things in life.

A barrage of things left over after day one.
Day One certainly wasn't as flawless as I would have liked it to be, but the kids seemed to have a blast nonetheless.  My co-teacher and I worked hard on finding proper balance that day, and by the end of the next, I feel like we'd reached a good equilibrium.  Stay tuned for Day Two, coming soon to a portkey near you.

(For my specific lesson plans for this day, visit here and here.)

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