Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Little Nerds

"Alright minions, you have been very cooperative with my activity so you get to play your pewpew games in the computer lab BUT FIRST! Rules! I don't care what Mr. Evan or Mr. Julian or Mr. Alex does, but today, this is my room and you go by my rules. I have two rules and three consequences. Number One: No swearing. First violation is a ten minute no pewpew time. The second violation, no pewpew for twenty minutes. Rule number two: If I hear a swear word but can't identify you, fess up. If you do not confess, I will unplug everyone's computer and no one gets pewpew time for ten minutes."

Fifteen minutes later:
"Stephen, time out for you."
"It wasn't me!!!"
"If it wasn't you, then someone else did it. The kid has ten seconds to admit he made mistake before I start unplugging computers." (inching over to the first computer)
Stephen's classmate (panicked whisper): "Stephennnn just confess! She's gonna dooo iiiiiit!!"
"Fine!!! It was me!!!"

These kids are too cute. It's kind of funny to see them mope during their time-out. I'm actually fairly lenient with it. They're allowed to move their mouse around to watch an on-going match; they're just not allowed to participate. After a while, I realized that I don't necessarily have to hear the kid swear. The kid's friends will hear it, even if I don't, and I'll see three round heads with mouths agape swivel back and forth between me and their buddy.

The no-swearing rule is in place because with shooting games, sometimes they get way too excited when they lose. They also stay relatively quiet, because the kids get paranoid of swearing on accident. I think it's a good policy to teach them about behaviors that may be acceptable at home, but are not acceptable outside of home. I don't like outright finger-pointing though. I don't like being thrown under the bus and I'm not going to create a situation that lets kids think it is okay to betray a friend.

Right now, my nerd group is doing two activities. They're building armor (from a video game of their choice) out of cardboard and designing their own flash game. These kids are tougher than I thought to manage. They also complain a lot in the beginning, but now they're easier to manage. It also helps that I'm using our "tiger tickets" as bait to keep the kids enthusiastic and invested in their activities. The kids collect tiger tickets to "buy" access to the computer lab on Fridays and field trips to places like 7-Eleven, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and the mall. The kids with the most creative game/armor will get tickets as a reward.

My students know that, aside from contests, I'm pretty stingy with the tickets. They know that I don't reward tickets to kids that say, "Can I help you with xyz for a tiger ticket?" They also know that anytime I give someone a ticket, I explain why the kid received one. The end result is that they're pretty good at cleaning after themselves and helping out without making a show of it, hoping that I might notice.

They don't know it, but I'm training them to be my minions and it's coming along very nicely.


  1. Well done! I've never been good at training children, which is why I only survived one summer as a camp counselor and then never, ever, ever did it again.

  2. Thanks! It's easier this time around. Probably because I have more patience these days.