It’s not everyday that I get to play dress-up with my Junior English classes.
But today was one of those days!!
My Juniors are reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Right?? I wish we had cool books like The Hunger Games to read when I was in high school! Oh well, at least kids have them now. I digress…as we read the story, I have been trying to come up with fun activities the students can do, creating our own Hunger Games. First of all, each student has been assigned a district. As we read and each character is killed, the students will have a red line drawn through their name. Obviously, we can’t have the kids bringing in bows & arrows and shooting one another, or throwing random heavy objects around, so I have to tweak things a bit. For our classroom “Demonstrations,” (in the book, the Tributes have to show The Gamemakers what they can do with various weapons) I had the students put on a sort of talent show. I told them they could perform any trick, skill or talent, as long as it was school appropriate (always key reminder when working with high schoolers!). They could even perform a “stupid human trick” if they pleased. I regaled them with stories of my adolescent when I would delight in embarrassing my parents when we went out to dinner by putting one end of a straw in my armpit and blowing on the other. It made the most atrocious (and hilarious!) farting noise. Go on, give it a shot! It takes some practice, but one you get it down, you’ll be showing all your friends just how classy you are!
Our next classroom activity centered around the Tribute Interviews (again, in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t read the book or seen the movie, each Hunger Games Tribute, or competitor, is required to partake in an interview aired on live TV around the country, as a means to win the favor of the people). Yesterday, each student wrote 3 questions on a sheet of paper. These could be hypothetical Hunger Games questions (If you were a tribute, who would you kill first?) or just generic questions that they would want to hear the answers from their peers (Do you have a crush on anyone, if so who and why?). Once they wrote their questions and had them approved by me, they cut each questions out and put it in a bag.
So that brings us to today. Today, I became the female counterpart to the book’s character, Caesar Flickerman, hostess of the 1st Annual Downtown High School Hunger Games. In the movie and in the book, Caesar is a flamboyant character, full of TV personality and energy. He has blue hair and is always dressed to the nines. My attempt to emulate him using only what I already had at home was not difficult. True, I could not copy his blue hair, but I do own an old Amy Winehouse beehive wig. My fake hair along with a bright blue sequin top, gold sequin jacket, jeans, neon pink heels and some gaudy accessories worked quite nicely to transform me from Miss A into Calpurnia Twinklebottom. (Bonus points if you know why I picked the name Calpurnia!)
I looked up The Caesar Show theme song from the movie, and as students entered my classroom, they found someone quite different from their usual teacher, dancing to her own music. Literally. The would walk in, drop their jaws and say something to the tune of, “Miss, you is CRAZY!” A few even asked to take pictures with me, so look out for me on the internet! One student even asked for an autograph! Ok…she needed me to sign a recommendation form, but whatever…it was an autograph!
I had practiced my Capitol accent and perfected my Caesar-esque laugh. Once the bell rang, I began introducing the “show” and held character the entire class. Students were impressed, entertained, and yes, some were even embarrassed to be seen next to me. (I consider that last response the sign of a job well done!) One-by-one, students came to the front of the class and were asked 3 questions chosen at random and written by their peers yesterday. Do you see what I did there? I tricked the kids into practicing public speaking by masking it in a silly and fun activity! MUHAHAHAHA! Even the reallllly shy kids got up and answered questions, all to the sound of applause from their classmates.
No matter the students’ reaction to my unusual Friday garb and the insistence that they must be interviewed, I think they were all engaged and actually learned a thing or two about speaking extemporaneously (now THERE’S a word!) in public…
…whether they know it or not!