First Hour of a New Week

Beginning a lesson has always been one of  the most difficult parts of teaching for me. A lot of questions pop up in my mind just before the lesson starts. How should I enter the class? Should I have a short warm up activity or a short chat about what my students did at the weekend? Should I revise some main points with a short activity or leave what was learned behind? Most of the time I want to do all af them not to jump into the course book. Because our policy lets students in till the 15th min. of the first lesson in the morning, we usually have only 30 minutes to have a real lesson. And usually this lesson is the  most challenging one to motivate students to do something in their books. So, I try to activate them first.

Sometimes, I write a riddle on the board for them to figure out its answer. This engages students while the time for late comers is over and they also adapt to the environment where they need to change the language they speak.

Another way I begin a lesson is asking them a couple of questions about their holiday, writing down some question phrases on the board depending on their level and then having them in pairs or in small groups to have a similar conversation about their holiday or on another topic which they want to talk. Without asking them some example questions, these short chat periods are usually more unlikely to be successful since they find it difficult to generate questions when they are sleepy.

I have also tried giving each student a piece of paper to write down an adjective describing how he feels or starting with the first letter of his name. After the first version, collected them all to make sure their feelings will be anonymous and read them to the whole class. Most of them were negative and we talked about why they felt so negative and what we could do to change that. In the second version, they put the post-its on which the adjectives beginning with the first letter of their name and describing their personality on the walls. Then, they walked around, chose someone else’s adjective and tried to guess who he could belong to.

Another way is a good way of practicing word phrases and pairing students. I split some word phrases into two and mix them all. I distribute these words to the students and they find the other word to make an acceptable word phrase. At the end of this activity, they sit together and be partners for this lesson. This can also be done by separating recently learned words into two to review them.

There are a lot of ways beginning a lesson without drowning in our course books from the beginning of the class. Sometimes we have to follow course books whether we like it or not but it is also possible to integrate some fun into them, too.

If you have any different ideas about beginning a lesson, I will be happy to hear about them.







Last week, after our in-service training, I had four days-off and I and my husband decided to spend our days in my hometown. It is a small village called Koyuneviköyü/Sokakağzı in the south of Çanakkale. It is a very small village propably populated with less than a hundred people in its part(Koyunevi)  located at the hillside. Its part (Sokakağzı) located at the seaside is more crowded and its most crowded time is summer when all the hotels are open and the peaceful nature is ready to host its guests.

The part of this village located at the hillside is surrounded by other villages whose culture are different than its. Habitants of most of villages in the south of Çanakkale are known as Yoruk (nomadic) people. My and our villagers’ origin is also yoruk. However, cultures of these neighbour villages are very different. As our and some other villages around are known as “modernized yoruk villages”, others are known as “old-fashioned” ones which protect their cultural values and traditions in spite of all the dangers caused by our modern world.

In that short visit, we had a chance to visit a yoruk village to celebrate a wedding and learn their different traditions. Since we didn’t have enough time to spend there and needed to do a lot of eating (my mom loves having a lot of things to eat for us as if it was why we were there), we could observe and learn about only the last day of their wedding ceremony traditions. Now, I will try to share what I have learned about the final day of their wedding ceremonies when the bride leaves her own home and begin her new life.


In this picture, I, my mother’s friend in this village called Çamkalabak and her daughter are standing in front of bride’s belongings made by the bride or her family for her new life (çeyiz). These belongings are displayed in front of bride’s family’s house on the day she leaves home for her new home. The clothes on the woman and the girl in the picture are their traditional clothes and it is their everyday clothing. The clothing I have on me is called “üçetek (three skirts-direct turkish translation)” since it has three pieces towards its lower part and the one on me actually belongs to the bride. Gülseren (woman in the picture) told me young women and girls wore clothes belonging to the bride in her wedding ceremony and asked me to wear one.


The woman standing behind me is my mother and the woman standing opposite is one of my primary school friends. Girls in these villages don’t go to school after secondary school, which is mandatory, and usually get married at an early age. Interestingly, I have learned the bride in that wedding was 19 years old and some of my friends who were 25 were not married yet, which shows the perceptions have been changing there, too.


While women are dancing in a different area, men are celebrating this event by drinking alcohol (not all the time and not everyone) and dancing by Turkish drums and clarinet.Image

In this last picture, you see the bride and the groom standing together. You must have realized that they are not smiling. I don’t know why the groom isn’t smiling but I have learned the bride is supposed not to smile throughout the day. If she smiled, she was thougth she had gone mad.

The reason they have gold and money on their clothes is because these are presents given to them but need to be returned when the people who give these presents have their wedding. It is a way of supporting each other when it is needed in this society.

Being able to see how our ancestors lived like and celebrated events still in our time has been a great experience for me.

I thank my dear husband for taking these great pictures.