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Listening and Thinking


November 24, 2004

I take a class out to play 'Listening' once a year. It doesn't work more often than that, but then, it doesn't need to. By the end of the game, they discover that 'Listening' can be renamed 'Thinking.' Take them out to the playground and tell them you are going to name an object, then they will run as fast as they can to go touch it and come back. Simple, huh? 'See that fence on the other end of the field? Go touch a fence and come right back!' Everyone huffs and puffs. This is repeated for all sorts of objects, and, after two or three runs, one of the more tired students will pause after everyone has run ahead of him, and ask, 'You said touch A tree. Can I just touch this one right over here?' A few more start catching on, suppressing giggles about having figured out the directions before their classmates. Pretty soon, everyone is listening very closely and scattering just a few feet, or reaching for their shirt to touch something brown, rather than the portable classroom 300 yards away. When we are ready to head back to the classroom, I ask them to explain what happened and how they could use what they learned in the game to help them learn faster in the classroom (only having to listen to the teacher's directions once, asking on-topic questions, staying focused on what is being asked of them). The next day, everyone wants to play the game again, but it only works once.

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