Kids these days.
December 5, 2009 9:26 AM   Subscribe

What are some fun classroom activities for middle school students (ages 12-14)?

My program director has given me the job of coming up with some activities for our entire middle school class, but I'm drawing a blank as to what these kids might be into. For our elementary students, we're having a speech contest and a spelling bee. But I work at a very small school, and I have several 14 year-old boys who think they're too cool to participate in any classroom activities we've done thus far. To make matters worse, I teach a foreign language, so the activities can't be too complicated or else the students won't be able to play. I had several disasters during our school's Halloween party because some of the games I'd chosen needed a higher level of language comprehension than my students had.

Are there any fool-proof classroom games or activities that both teenage boys and girls are interested in?
posted by canadia to Education (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Play charades, but the kid have to play in their second language. Choose the people or movies that will be acted out in advance, so you can select ones that won't require vocabulary that´s too complicated. Whoever calls out names in their 1st language is out of the game - there should be some sort of prize.

A game I've tried once - person who speaks babble/nonsense, and a person who is the translator. The person speaking babble is the "expert". You choose controversial/interesting areas of expertise (Girls and their Moods, Why Boys are Stupid, etc) and the students have to ask the expert questions about that topic, but they are directed towards the translator, who listens and then babbles to expert. The expert then give a reply, babbling, and the translator gives the answer to the back the the class. Maybe too high language level for your groups, but believe me, they LOVE the part when the expert makes nonsense noises to the translator and the translator "translates" what was said. Maybe you can make some adaptation to make it a lower level.

Hmm 14 year old boys... why not have them invent their own games, have a contest to see who can make the most difficult language game? Have them invent "punishments" for those who lose, and a prize for the winners? Cool 14 year olds like to show off what they know.

The 14 year old boys I have in my groups love to show off how smart they are, they like girls but still prefer to complain about them/compete against them, and they are really into video games and music. Any games including competitions, prizes and any of these topics with L2 should work.

Have them have a rap competition in their L2? It' s not hard to find instrumental hip hip tracks, to rap over. Or translate and perform Metallica in L2?

These are a few thoughts, I hope more people answer the thread with ideas, because it would be useful to me, too!!!
posted by Locochona at 10:51 AM on December 5, 2009

my middle school korean kids really like taboo, played with two teams. i don't have cards, so i give the kids examples (hospital | doctor, medicine, sick) and make each team come up with complete sets of words. they also like another team game, where one person from each team stands with their back to the white board, i write a word or phrase, and the team has to get them to say the word. charades is a good warmup, but not as good as these speaking games, because it involves vocabulary recall but not actual speaking.

these games also minimize the damage an unresponsive kid can do to the activity. if someone is REALLY too shy to go up to the front, then frown and skip them.

a co-teacher teaches listening classes by playing popular english songs (they really like the beatles and abba) and giving them the lyric sheets, with some words whited out, to fill in.
posted by acidic at 11:14 AM on December 5, 2009

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