This week our juniors are taking high stake state tests in the morning. By the time I see them in the afternoon, the second to last period of the day, they don't have much left to give. Today, they were taking the second part of a test and by the time they were finished, there was only 22 minutes remaining in class. My lesson plans called for a TPRS story. However, after taking a quick inventory of their body language - slouching, droopy eyelids, wiped out expressions - I was afraid I wouldn't get quality participation because they were so worn out. Just then a thought crossed my mind and my plans were diverted.
I took the story I was going to use for TPRS and wrote 20 of the words on the board. Some were vocabulary words they had just learned, and others were new or ones we hadn't focused on. I told the students to stand up, (the first crucial step to help breathe life into them again). We went over the list of words for their meaning and then I asked them to come up with motions for each word - and they didn't disappoint me - the motions were fun and energizing. After 7 words we stopped and practiced them; then did the same thing with 6 more words; reviewed all; and decided on motions for the last set. I told them we were ready to start the story, and I quickly got a protest that we hadn't practiced all of the words together. No problem, more repetitions.
Now that we had the motions down, I told them that I was going to read the story and when they heard one of the words that we had made motions for (they were in the correct order of the story), they should make the motions. I read three sentences and they did the motions. One student asked for clarification, so then we started from the top again. The second time I got through the first paragraph, the phone rang - a counselor wanted to talk to one of the students. So, we started from the top...again. This was the 3rd time so they had the motions down perfectly.
We made it to the end of the story. I then asked them to tell me in English what happened in the story. Three students, that always participate raised their hands, but then I saw another student that doesn't participate as much as the others, with his hand raised and I knew the English translation was his. He did a great job, and when he missed the part about the fast food, others were quick to add it, and when he had a few questions about some parts, others helped him with the details.
We finished with 4 minutes left. No way was I going to lose those precious 4 minutes. I asked for 2 volunteers and they picked a partner to work with them. They went to the front and I told them that I was going to read the story again and the class would vote on which group did the best job with the motions. The class enjoyed watching the 4 students and I liked the fact that they were hearing the story AGAIN.
When the bell rang, I watched and listened as an energized, chattering, smiling group of students left my class. What a difference from 22 minutes ago when they were ready to slump over their desks and call it a day. Another plus - THEY energized ME!