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Map Mania

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I teach at several JHS in Japan and have various disapline issues. At one school, we have large classes - 40 students - and everything from talking, reading, listening to walkmans and just general interest and participation haas been an issue. At the beginning of term I tried a Canada Challenge. (this is actually not my idea but another ALT's in the area). It can be done with any country. You just draw or steal pictures from the internet of the country of your choice. I then marked then capitals of the provinces and any other main cities in the country. The students have a list of goals. Most are aimed at participation, volunteering, speaking in loud voices etc. The main one is noise level. Students get 30 points if they are quiet. This means that if we ask them to be quiet once and they respond they get the full points. If they are asked 10 times to be quiet in a class, as long as they are separate incidences, they still get full marks. If I have to ask them 2x (in a row), they get 20 points and if they are asked 3x, they get no points. At the beginning of each class I tell them how they did last class. They can get up to 3 stamps (one stamp per city), a class. 100% - 3 stamps, above 85% - 2 stamps, and above 70% - 1 stamp. Anything less they don't get a stamp. It is easy for them to get one stamp, even if they misbehave a lot in class. 3 stamps is difficult for the kids at my school. It has made a huge difference in the classroom atmosphere. Once they get all cities, they get a prize, which can be anything from appropriate for your students. Candy treats work well if you are allowed to give it to the students. I also tell them where they did well or improved from the last time. One thing to be aware of is that for my 3rd years (grade nine class), I think it may actually have caused an out going class to become withdrawn. They volunteered and participated fairly well in that class privooously. The main concern had been noise level adn basic lack of respect when others were talking - teachers or studetns. Now, the students do not volunteer or participate. For those of you working in Japan, you know it is a natural progression for studetns to become more quiet and "shy" as they get older. This may be the case at my school.
If you have the time in class, you could also take the opportunity to teach the students more about your country or the country you have chosen. The fastest the studetns can finish mine I think is in 2 months. (I only go to the school one a week) Depending on the school you can also instill competition between the grades with the grade completing their map first gettting the best prize.

I hope this is of use and not a repeat! Ganbette ne.

G. Boisseau
Hiroshima-ken, Japan

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