Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If you can't beat them...

...beat them with foam dice!

Last year, I picked up 12 foam dice at Daiso - a dollar store within my local Lotte Mart. They are great for games and for choosing students to participate in class activities. As there are 6 students at each table group, a simple roll of the dice will do much better than a prolonged stalemate of multi-player "rock, paper, scissors" to determine which poor soul has to join Teacher Dave in the demonstration dialogue.

Turns out the dice are also great for beaning students in the head. They are light, rounded, soft, and about baseball-sized, so though they do fly true, their speed decreases sufficiently toward the end of their journey to render them quite safe. It also just so happens that I can power these things at a speed roughly double that of what my students can manage. When it comes to foam dice fun, I also appear to have the eye-hand coordination of a 2004 Miikka Kiprusoff, so I'm in no danger of being hit in return - no matter how many dice are in play.

Anyway, after over two years of getting immensely frustrated with the chaos that occurs when my middle school boys enter the English Only Room before class, I decided to mould the anarchy into something a little more fun: the insane and hyperactive boys line-up near the back of the room and the dice come out. I stand at the front of the room with the touch screen closed behind a sliding whiteboard and let fly. It's fun to watch the boys dive Matrix-style to the ground while the dice slow at the end of their arc.

I don't do this with every class, but if the insanity rolls in, I've decided to join it. I'm kinda done being a grumpy old man for now. So far it's working wonders, the loopy boys get all their "giggles" out and they actually seem a little bit more ready for learning when the bell rings. I also gain the satisfaction of nailing a handful of my most ill-behaved students from a respect-earning head-shot with a piece of fun foam. It's win-win.

...and if the madness that occurs in the hallways between classes is any indication of the school-wide standard of student behaviour, my little dice assault is comparatively tame.

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