Sunday, February 11, 2007


I'm trying to get my flow back, trying to raise the bar, and I organize a past tense irregular verb competition, complete with a poster-size bracket and a battle circle.

It goes like this:
I seed the kids based on their proficiency with irregular verb endings, and each pair enters the circle, shakes hands, and proceed to spit verb pairs at each other...
Kid A: send -- sent
Kid B: fight -- fought
Kid A: run -- ran
Kid B: is -- was
...until someone can't fire back or a verb pair is repeated. Round 1 takes the longest because I set a 20-second time limit. In subsequent rounds I drop the time limit to 10 seconds and the answers start coming quicker and quicker, with some kids working in that little chin lift. Applause is given for good battles, the ones that last the longest, or have that quick-fire response. In the end, an unlikely character whose nickname is a type of poultry takes the victory, and he is truly the people's champion.

Then he challenges me.

I have to accept, cannot back down, and my mind starts racing. They've been studying all week, and I've just facilitated. Our champion has made it through five grueling battles, and I've just been timing and officiating. He's fresh off a victory, and I'm coming in cold. This calls for some strategy. I know he's been starting with the being verbs, so I decide to take those away first. He has not been using the -aught/-ought pairs, so I plan on going there next. I also store up the seldom used consonant changers, in case it goes that long.

It doesn't.

He's thrown off that I go for the being verbs early, is intimidated by how fast I'm hitting him with the -ought/ -aughts, and then he stumbles and is broken by the time limit.

I raise my arms in victory, shadow-box a little, utter M. Ali's trademark phrase, and revel in the fact that I can recite past tense irregular verbs faster and more accurately than a kid with a CELDT score of 2.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

liz here, from I Speak of Dreams.

As always, I'm awed by your creativity & passion as a teacher.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous pseudostoops said...

Hahaha. Love it.

6:09 AM  
Anonymous Scott McLeod said...

Hey, send me your name and e-mail, anonymous TMAO? I want to invite you to participate in a new initiative...

Dr. Scott McLeod
CASTLE, U. Minnesota

4:02 AM  
Blogger Andrew Pass Educational Services, LLC said...

Your idea is awesome. So is your effective writing. I'm going to link to your blog on my own. Then I'm going to come back regularly for ideas.

Your students are lucky.

Andrew Pass

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer N said...

Hmmm...reminds me of a scene from the Sherman Alexie YA novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. Have you read it?

8:56 PM  
Blogger Miss Profe said...

Not sure how I missed this. Then again, I was off the grid for most of Feb. 2007 battling gall stones and other nasty GI stuff.

Anyway, this activity would appeal - esp. to the competitive the boy-dominant uber competitive classes am currently teaching.

1:19 PM  

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