Daily lectures and other activities can become monotonous for even the most devoted students. When the schedule calls for a break, keep students learning at the same time they're having a good time. Build fun activities for high school English into your lesson plans whenever possible.
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Play "Name That Line," borrowing from the television game show "Name That Tune." Divide students into groups of three. Include a competing pair and one moderator in each group. Give each team two lists of first lines from novels, poems or short stories, along with a small clue to the work. Have moderators read the clue but not the first line; students "bid" on the chance to name the work by saying, "I can name that novel (play, poem or story) in six words." Whoever bids the fewest words gets one guess to earn a point. If she misses, deduct a point. Have student teams work at their own pace, taking turns calling out lines from each sheet of paper. It helps to have an abundant supply of different lists available.
Before the class enters, hide poker chips around the room. Place them atop bookcases, inside cubbyholes, underneath tables, around a vase and with other chips. The key is to identify prepositions that show the relationship between the chip and the object. Students take turns finding poker chips and keep them only if they are able to name a preposition that works for the location of the specific poker chip. Students enjoy hiding the chips for other classes. To stretch their thinking, do not allow students to repeat previously named prepositions.
To teach students to understand iambic meter, explain that iambic is the rhythm of walking. It is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Select any of Shakespeare's sonnets, or any poem with iambic lines. Have them walk to the tune of the poem while deliberately stressing the second syllable of each metric foot.
When your students need a break from a writing assignment, have them arrange themselves in a large circle. Instruct them to select another student sitting where they can unobtrusively observe him. Give them a 15-minute time period to draw a portrait of the student on their papers. Collect all work, even if it is unfinished. Shuffle the drawings and distribute them face down around the group so that no one receives his own work. Instruct students to write a journal entry that explains how the artist captured the personality of the subject in the drawing. Students should not divulge who the subject is until the end of the activity. Have volunteers share their writing and hold up the drawings. Assorted talents, and more than a laugh or two, will stand out.
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