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Gary's Twilight Zone Nerf Baseball

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I teach oral English in a private school , located in Shandong Province , China . I teach seventeen different classes weekly , ranging from Primary Grade 1 to Junior Grade 3 students. I recently discovered a method which encourages ALL my students to speak English.
Item needed :
One nerf baseball

I simply toss or throw the nerf ball to a student and if the student catches the ball , then he is allowed to ASK me a question in English or else initiate a dialogue with me . If the student drops the ball or fails to catch it , then he must answer MY question in English or else participate in the dialogue that I initiate.

The students must remain seated during this activity and are only allowed to stand when they either ask and answer questions or initiate or particpate in the dialogue.

This captures the students' attention , as they do not know who I will throw the ball to next. I incorporate some trickery to make the game exciting. I will look at one student and toss the ball to another. Sometimes I walk around the classroom with the ball in my hands behind my back and toss it in that fashion , so they never know who the ball is going to nor from which direction it is coming .
If there are students who insist upon not paying attention, initially , then they get the ball the most.If they are looking at something else, there is no way they see the ball coming until it lighly hits their shoulder or lands upon their desk . Once they have the ball tossed to them three times in a short time frame , they quickly put away everything else and " get with the flow " of things.
I found that students who were previously shy to speak English are now holding their hands together, wanting to catch the ball , so they can speak in English !
My classes are 45 minutes in duration and this technique lasts the entire class time when I utilize it . The students love it and they now enjoy speaking English !

Gary McMurrain
Shandong Province ,

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