Apathetically Playing Charades

I played Secretly Eating Pizza, an adverbs/verbs charades game with my teenagers yesterday and today. I put together this one for my Yantai drips, asa reward for all their hard work learning the difference between adjectives and adverbs. The game is quite simple, basically, you pick an adverb and a verb out of two bags, and then you act them out while the rest of the class guesses. Sometimes you get normal combinations, like Slowly Walking, but sometimes you’ll get Lovingly Riding a Bike or Rudely Brushing Your Teeth (I call it that because John, one of my little boys in Yantai, really really liked to “secretly eat pizza”).

It worked even better with teenagers, except for my usual duds, a girls or two per class who do about 2% of whatever the assignment is. Even activities that are usually fun get no response. I’m sort of hoping there’ll be a fire drill or emergency while I’m here just to see if they can move quickly.

I did the game in two classes, modifying the vocab a bit for different level of English proficency, and in both classes, a few duds slowed the game to an unfun crawl when they looked at their words, whined that they wanted new ones, stood in the front for a while deciding what to do, then apathetically waved their hands a little bit, so little that Angrily Exercising was indistinguishable from Languidly Waiting For A Bus, and then stood waiting for their classmates to become psychic.

I know there are dud students in every school in every city, like those kernels of corn that refuse to pop, but I’m stumped as teacher when I plan a lesson that has 18 people waving their hands and begging to go next, and 2 people looking like they’re at the dentist’s.

What do I do here? Do I let the duds sit and stare into spare (I originally wrote “doodle” here but that implies active creativity) while the games goes on, keeping everything fun, fast-paced and focused, but making participation in English class optional? Do I force them to participate, and let unenthused students make it lamer for everyone? I’m considering spiking their drinks, but I don’t know the Chinese word for uppers.

Subscribe to Violet Eclipse by Email

This entry was posted in Yantai and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Apathetically Playing Charades

  1. window tinter says:

    Brilliant post. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I would suggest you just call on the duds less. My memory of Chinese teachers is that they more than ignore the whiners. Back when beating kids was relatively legal… it was even worse to be a dud. You are positively pampering them.

  2. Gabrielle says:

    Well, since you can’t make everyone happy all of the time, it may just be best to ignore the duds while they are in class. Since you only have as few as you do, that’s probably what I would do. Or you could give them the evil eye and threaten to throw them out of a window. That is what I did to my class full of duds. 🙂

    I’m sure giving a call to their parents would straighten them out a little, too. Had I been able to speak fluent Chinese, I would have called every single one of my 700 student’s parents. I mean, if my fellow teachers were able to make them cry, I don’t even want to know how they would have reacted to their pissed off parents.

  3. Wha wha wha says:

    Maybe they were staring at walls because they were melting?

    I did that in high school and I’m doing alright, I make $$$…

  4. Meg says:

    window — I’m sure it was a lot easier to discipline kids back when beating them was legal! Or even a good old-fashioned chalk nose circle.

    Gabrielle — I don’t know what I’d do with a room full of duds! I know I wouldn’t be trying to make up games for them, though. You may be on to something with the calls home… I’ve only ever done that once, and it was to give Mom and Dad a little warning that Junior was going to fail English. Immediate improvement after that, as you can imagine!

    wha wha wha — I missed you!

  5. Gabby Girl says:

    This is just a comment to make my name turn blue. I had put a URL with my name, but apparently that didn’t turn out right. I didn’t want to use my blogger identity because I changed the location of my blog. Since it didn’t work, I’ll post under my blogger user name.

    I’ve got some horror stories about my classroom full of duds. I look back on it now and laugh, but man, they made me cry at least once a week. They were evil duds! 🙂

  6. Matthew Fitzgerald says:

    I hear ya about the duds. What can be really exasperating is how some lessons will be fun and great for one class on Monday, but that very same lesson for a class of a comparable level will fail completely on Tuesday. How one class with three or four bright, engaged sparkplugs can drown out not only the apathetic duds, but even the average student. Try as I might to give everyone a shot in class, the fact is the cream floats to the top, and the engaged ones speak and are called on, while the duds sit back, sleep, or just stare into space.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Less of this introspective teaching stuff and more about Stick!

  8. Meg says:

    Matt — I am a big fan of Matt’s Myth! (ever since that really awful Festina Lente pun) I feel like a celeb just commented on my blog!

    All teachers — I guess my problem is, how much effort do I put into kids who don’t respond? Do I let them zone out while I teach the kids who came to class prepared? And how do I cover my @ss when admin discovers students are failing English, a class that’s usually just watching the foreign monkey show?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *