Fluency Activity: The
Silent Treatment Game
Today's Snack: Let's have a snack that can be eaten
silently: applesauce, with a chaser of ice water - but drink it silently and
paper or notebook for each participant
pencil | Clock
Many students hate writing because
somewhere along the line, someone put pressure on them or gave them the
impression that they were doing it "wrong." They get nervous or even angry when
asked to write anything.
This is a distractible generation to
begin with, (no) thanks to TV and other electronic time-wasters. So it's
natural that when a child is presented with a task that is distasteful, he or
she will easily get distracted.
That's why so many children can't
even write a three-word sentence if given 30 minutes to write, while a
generation ago, students would fill pages with well-written sentences in that
What to do? Make writing fun, and
give kids a change of pace. At home, in school or in an after-school program,
you can play this silly game - "The Silent Treatment Game."
Everybody gets a piece of paper and
a pen or pencil. You can play this with a partner, in a small group, or in a
large group. The object of the game is to carry on a written conversation for
15 minutes. Whichever duo or group gets the most words written down - legibly -
as part of a conversation -- is the winner. You earn one point for every word
If someone blurts out words by
accident, their team has to deduct one point for each word.
On the other hand, if someone can't
read a word that a partner wrote, it's OK to stop and read that word aloud.
However, the kids will soon see that that slows them down. So they'll try to
write quickly and legibly.
You can explain to kids that
conversations are often a series of questions and answers. So have a general,
easy-to-answer question in mind to get the ball rolling. As the kids continue
for 15 minutes, if they get stumped for what to write next, you might want to
write some sample questions on the board for them to copy, and keep the words
The leader should keep track of the
clock. Get the kids started and stopped in 15 minutes.
You'll be surprised how many smiles
you see . . . and how many words are produced by the same students who don't
seem to be able to crank out even three words in a traditional writing
That's the secret of reducing the
pressure, changing the format, and lightening up: it creates a better writing
environment, which in turn, creates better writers.