Fickle Fridays & Crazy Ball

Fickle Fridays
In about 3 weeks, Fickle Friday is something I’ll begin with my 7th grade Exploratory Language classes. Why then? That’s when we begin Latin, the second of three languages this year.

On Fickle Friday a student rolls a die (6, 10, 20…100-sided?) to see which language we’ll be speaking that day. This has a purpose; I don’t want students to think that they should abandon Spanish just because we’re starting a new language. The same will be true for both Spanish and Latin once we get to French. Plus, it’s fun.

Don’t teach more than one language? No problem. Fickle Friday applies to anything left to chance (e.g. a brain break, an activity, a particular story from the year, an imaginary student to interview, a student in the room to begin a story, etc.). You could list a few killer activities that students always ask for, roll a die, and make Fridays shine just from the novelty of uncertainty.

If you want to be tricky, you could always give the illusion there’s chance. For example, list 4 possible activities, have a student roll, then “consult” a Post-It or piece of paper and announce the “winning” activity. Students might ask to see the paper. If so, you’re caught. On the other hand, this might work for a while, and perhaps indefinitely. I learned about the perception of choice in Educational Psychology; this isn’t far off. Still, I think it’s more fun to actually go with what the cosmos have in store for us with a die roll. Plus, it will help improve your ability to think on the fly and deliver understandable messages in the target language (i.e. CI) without a restrictive lesson plan. We need this skill for when something surprises us or goes wrong on a daily basis.

Crazy Ball
My students always ask to do a particular brain break called Crazy Ball:

  • A student calls someone’s name and throws them a foam ball.
  • That student catches the ball, closes their eyes, says a word in the target language (phrases are better), then throws the ball to someone else.
  • The game continues on.
  • If someone gets the ball twice before everyone has had a chance, the game is over (= inclusion).
  • If a word/phrase is repeated, the game is over (this game usually lasts 4min MAX since someone inevitably doesn’t listen, or simply can’t remember all the words/phrases that have been said).

There’s no CI in this brain break, but I think that’s OK. When it comes to brain breaks, there are actually two camps; those who think they should be target language-free, and those who think they should be easy activities in the target language. I don’t feel too strongly about either one since all I need brain breaks for is to get students moving around and thinking less about school.

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