Counseling Game

I like this idea for a classroom activity. 

Got it while watching a TV show that showcases a young girl who is given a problem by one of the people in the small gallery of adults on stage with her.  The adults take turns adopting the persona of someone burdened with a knotty conundrum of a personality conflict or dilemma imposed by circumstance.  One part of the show’s allure is that the young girl, I’m guessing about 8 or 9 years old, assumes all of the poise and aplomb of an authoritative sage of many years.  Another part is that she makes her recommendations very quickly.  And she makes recommendations that are both insightful and witty.

Having only seen the show once, I don’t know if she is always the same girl, a prodigy being showcased.  It reminded me of the Art Linkletter show called “Kids say the darndest things”.  Perhaps someone has taken time to find some old Linkletter shows and placed snippets on YouTube?

How can I harness this Counselor show to engage my high schoolers?  

I’ve got round tables, anywhere from 4 to 7 tables, depending on the class, having anywhere from 4 to 7 at a table. 

One student from each table could assume a persona with a problem and rotate through each of the tables in turn. 

That would allow me to choose the kids most skilled in English to read the “I’ve got a problem” script.  Kids might pay some attention to one of their own.  Depending on the class, the likelihood of that will still range from 90% down to zip, but it ought to help.

There may be some inter-table rivalry felt if each table’s collaborative solution is ranked against the other’s.  That might raise attention levels.  Small hope.

It would be a nice touch to give them outsized masks to hold up while reading the script, relieve anxiety a bit and accentuate the role.

I can force the expressions and vocabulary introduced by the text into the scripts.

I’ve toyed with the idea of giving each kid a turn at being the problem-poser, but think that most classes have too many who could not comprehend the script well enough to deliver it. 

I’ve toyed with the idea of giving each kid a turn at being the problem-solver, but think that that would simply grant the others time for chatting and diffuse the immediacy into vapor.  In fact, I’ve given up on pair work and small group work because unless I’m right there to enforce attention to it, 30 kids chat away while one pair is constrained to perform. 

There’s only one reason to do anything in school, taking an exam, being evaluated for the report card.  My class is completely optional, and most choose the opportunity to either do something constructive like get some sleep or copy someone’s homework or memorize words, or do something to kill the time like chat with or provoke their neighbor. 

If they don’t buy into the presumption of needing English communicative skill at some point (some do), I am compelled by logic to agree with their choices.

So I guess I’m going to shape it as a table exercise.  Maybe I can generate some urgency by projecting table ranks for the appropriateness of their advice and the amount of English used to express it on the front board, round by round?  The problem-poser can write down the proffered solutions.  I could collect and project these. 

Each round could be 3 to 5 minutes.  The table could have 60 seconds to search the internet for information.  I’ve only got 4 computers.

What if the problem-poser were to choose one person at the current table to take over their role and continue by rotating to the next table?  That would erode the table/team identity.  The new problem-poser might not be up to the task.  Still, maybe in a large class of seven tables, after 3 rounds or 4 rounds this might be a welcome relief for the first chosen problem-posers.

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