The Status of "Status"
Man, status games rock the freakin' house!
We started with the "playing cards on the forehead" game. After each kid had a card, I said, "If you'll look around, I think you'll find that there are two groups in this class. You should find your group, nonverbally." They didn't get it at first, but I didn't give them any other hints. After a minute, some kids took leadership roles and started dividing the class into red and black cards, and that's when the rest caught on. Then I told them that each group has two families, and they divided by suit. Finally, everyone got back together again to arrange themselves numerically.
Then I did some of the excercises where two lines of kids walk toward each other, one line with high status and one line with low status. Next, the high status kids became even higher and the low status kids became even lower, and we ended with the lines switching status after meeting in the middle. When I asked kids why they switched status, I expected them to say, "Because you told us to," but they came up with the greatest stuff! One kid said, "I was high status, and when I passed the low status person I thought she looked happier than me, and that made me sad." Another said, "When I passed the high status person, he looked at me like he really saw me, and that made me think that I wasn't that bad after all." Isn't that incredible?
Then we did "Sorry, wrong door," which went over like gangbusters. I've had problems with audience behavior in the past so I was worried that the kids wouldn't be paying attention to each other and disrupting the exercise. Instead, they were fascinated to see what everyone came up with for their schtick. The kids took great pride in doing something original, so every kid worked on finding another way to show that they're in the wrong room.
Finally, we did the game where a person leaves the room, and the group decides on a role to assign the missing person. We did a leper, the queen, a movie star (girls love him, boys don't like how they're girlfriends are acting), the school principal, and the invisible man. I ended the day by talking about how the crowd makes the king.
Today was probably the best day I've had at my job in several years. The kids were actively engaged, and the material was as challenging and relevant as each kid wanted it to be (why didn't I save this stuff for my annual appraisal?!). Today taught me how important quality curriculum is. For "Sorry, wrong door," I could have given instructions to the class on how each kid needed to come up with something different, or how they needed to be good audience members, but such micromanaging wasn't necessary because the activity was well-planned.
I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow in class, but it's going to have to be great. The bar has been raised, and my kids are expecting something awesome.