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Gary's Chinese Magic Box of Luck and Skill

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I have been teaching conversational English the last two years at a private boarding school in Shandong Province , China . This year , I had the pleasure of teaching the Senior grade students and I utilized this game , resulting in much excitement and very active participation from the students . They love the competition .
I bring to class a very colorful and decorated box , which is approximately 10 inches deep and six inches wide . Inside the box are six ping pong balls , numbered 1-6 .
I equally divide the class , according to rows , into two teams and in my current class arrangement , rows 1-3 being the Dragons and rows 4-6 being the Tigers .
I write six topics on the board and since the students are Senior grade levels , their English is mostly intermedient to advanced , by current Chinese standards .
Some examples of topics that I have used include : "Farmers should get more money for their work , China should send someone to the moon , Cigarettes should have higher taxes , People who marry should stay together" , etc . Use your imagination concerning the topics according to your student's abilities and according to which country you are teaching in . I number the topics according to difficulity , with topic # 1 being the easiest and topic # 6 being the most difficult . The student must agree or disagree with the topic and give their opinion why .
I start with row one , seat one , and I shake the box and allow the student to draw one numbered ping pong ball , without looking into the box. The number they draw is the topic that they must discuss . If the student can complete his opinion , he gets the number of points on the ping pong ball and I write it on the chalk board , which has been divided into the two teams . Next , it is the other team's turn , usually row four seat one , and they repeat the process . I also write their score on the chalk board . I simply designate the next student who must discuss the topic , according to rows , seats and teams . After the second set of students take their turn , all the students can see the score on the chalk board , as I tally the two scores before moving on to the third set of students , for example : Dragons 10 , Tigers 4 . Some students may try to peek into the box , looking for the ping pong ball with the number six , but I have explained at the beginning that if they do , they lose their turn and it is the next team's turn . I have very little problem with this , however .
I have utilized this game many times and it is great for a 45 minute class period . Once the last student has drawn and if the game has ended in a tie score , I have one short round , deciding the winning team , according to how much of class time is left . Usually no more than two or three students , according to their turn in the rotation , participate in the tie breaker round .
It never fails to bring excitement to the classroom . Chinese students enjoy this English game very much .

Gary McMurrain
Shandong Province , PRC
[email protected]

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