On Friday, my class played Hippopotamus. This is an awesome game for mixed levels, easily modified for students’ English abilities and not mind-numbingly repetitive. You send one person into the hall while the rest of the class picks a verb. Their classmate comes back and has to guess what action the group has chosen, by asking yes or no questions and substituting hippopotamus for the verb. Do you hippopotamus in the morning before school? Can little children hippopotamus? Do you like to hippopotamus?
My class gave huge hints to Charlie Gordon so he was also able to participate, and the game was going well when one of my students said “We should have a punishment for someone who doesn’t know.”
“A punishment? What kind of punishment?” I asked.
“If someone guesses wrong three times, he has to sing us a song.”
“That’s a fantastic punishment!”
Today I was barely in the classroom when my students asked for more of the punishment game. We played a few rounds of Concentration, where the loser had to entertain us with a song or a dance.
It started out with typical teenage antics, mumbling through the ABCs at top speed and insisting that an apathetic arm wave was a real dance, but then something amazing happened. When the queen of my duds lost, she set up a song from her iPod, turned it up, and did a club dance, surprisingly good and more active than I’ve ever seen her, in class or out. Another girl ran to her locker, put on her tap shoes, and tapped her whole routine for us! One boy sang an Eminem song, but I don’t know if it was any good because I don’t know what the kids are listening to these days. Another boy sang a line of Peking opera in a terrifying falsetto… only one line because the class dissolved giggling before he could get very far.
I had every student — my stars, my duds, Charlie Gordon — leaning forward in their chairs, desperate to participate in class. When the bell rang, there was a group groan and requests for another punishment game.
I plan to brush up on Mice Love Rice and strategically lose next time.
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