"You Are NOT Fine!" Warm Up
- When the kids are standing and ready for their greetings, say good morning/good afternoon/hello to them.
- Once they answer good morning, ask them "how are you?" (You can add "how are you today?" in order to throw them off. Modify your expressions a bit to ensure that they can hear it though, because they tend to tune out and want to sit down asap.)
- The most common response you will get are probably "I'm fine[... thank you, and you?]" in one ubiquitous monotone symphony (if you're lucky)
- This is where you bring in your drama queen/acting skills that weren't harnessed during your youth and almost put away to waste. Look shocked. Hold your hand over your heart. Leaving your mouth gaping wide open may also help.
- Tell them, "No!" A resounding, offended and very upset, "No". If this is the first few times you are doing this, their reactions may vary from blank faces to the utter confusion. Whatever their responses are, do not be disheartened! You have been successful so far! You have disrupted their normal routine of greetings, response and sitting down. You have caught them unaware. Make sure they are still standing. You often get sneaky ones who try to sit down first. Single them out. Unless they are problem kids and its not recommended. Although, naughty ones tend to make the activity more engaging for some reason. So where you can, try to harness the energy of the hostile student to your advantage.
- Explain to them using overly dramatic gestures that, in fact, you know they are not fine. In fact you know that they are "sleepy" (gesture sleepiness), "hungry" (gesture hunger. I like to hold my stomach and drop to the ground sometimes), "tired" (might be hard to differentiate from sleepiness, but just make sure you slump your shoulders and don't snore, and that shouldn't be too confusing), "I'm cold", "I'm hot" and whatever else you can think of.
- Ask them to raise their hands. "Who is sleepy?" (Raise your hand as an example so they know to follow your cue). "Who is hungry?" (Raise your hand), "Who is tired?" (Raise your hand). If it is fourth period you are in luck. Most kids will raise their hands in response to the hunger question. Sleepy is also very popular. By this stage you have established a meeting of the minds.
- Here there needs to be abit of improvization and adaptation depending on the level that you are engaging with. Use wild gestures and English to communicate that any English answer besides "I'm fine' is the answer that you want. That you don't want them to answer in unison but with what they want, and what they are really thinking. Tell them you will try again. Ask them, "How are you?"
- Sometimes they will say "I'm fine" again. Once again, establish that you despise that answer. You may get a few students who do get the point and answer with a different answer. Let them sit down. The other kids will start to catch on if you start doing that. You might get some epic answers like "I'm sleepy AND hungry". Give that kid a medal for innovation and stepping outside the square. But don't lavish him with massive appreciation because 1. It's inappropriate. 2. You don't want to give him a big ego. or 3. the other kids who didn't catch on will want to deflate his ego.
- Keep asking "How are you?" until you get different responses. Let each kid that answers clearly sit down. If it's too many of the same answers then start crossing your hands and saying no. E.g. cross your hands emphatically saying loudly, "No more of I'm sleepy".
Note. Sometimes you will just get a dead class. In that case, pick a kid to ask the question. It is often the case that some students know the answer and won't actually answer until you specifically pick them. Also be careful of the first student that you make an example of. Try not to choose the slower or the naughty students because they will make it more difficult for the point of the lesson to be communicated. You will get a sense of who the students to pick are the longer that you teach them. Start working your way to the next student, asking the same question. Pick on them but don't intimidate/punish them in the sense that there will be students that just don't get it and they will feel more stupid if they can't answer. That might be because they are handicapped or just dislike English. Know when to stop. Actually, you can whisper an answer to them and coax them a bit until they are able to repeat the answer, this is so that at the very least they get some sort of speaking and listening out of the lesson. Get your OTE to help with the questioning of the other kids. Work through the whole class student by student if you have to. Show them that you mean business. At the very least it gives each student a chance to experience english on a one-to-one basis and takes out a good chunk of your time.
- Continue until everyone is seated. Of course you can use this activity for speaking and listening after doing greetings. Progress to more difficult grammar points once they have got the hang of greetings, which you can then spend less time on. For example for first graders "Who are you?", "Where do you live?". For second graders, "Where are you going?", "What are you doing?" and etc for third graders. For elementary school kids the greetings themselves should be enough.
This is a modification of Nishat's awesome "if" warm up activity that she introduced at one of the mid year conferences about a year back. For those of you who haven't seen it, the success of the activity lies in the fact that the kids aren't allowed to sit until they provide an answer and can take a good chunk out of your time depending on how much focus you want to put into each student. It can also be very fast if you are wanting to get down to the rest of the lesson .