Today's class was based entirely out of a half of a page in one of the books we have. It says "Give big, small, nice and boring a break!", and then listed a bunch of synonyms that are far more interesting. I typed it all up and added even more words like happy, bad, sad, good-looking, and interesting. I wrote up flashcards with some of the words on the lists.
In class I split the students into three groups and gave them each a stack of the cards and told them to separate them by meaning just by guessing and no using dictionaries. Dear lord. When I said no dictionaries you would think I cut their arms off. One group had to be reminded three times that I wasn't blind. I mean come on, if both hands are under their desk and their eyes are glued to their laps I could pretty much guess that they aren't deep in thought. Another group got really into it and was doing things like finding familiar parts of the words, or seeing if it sounded like other words they knew.
Then I passed out a sheet with all the words on it and told them to hold on to it when writing and to try and use some of the new words.
Then we played a game! I wrote the basic words "big" "small" "nice", etc on the board and split the class into two groups lined up facing the blackboard. The person in front of each group got a flyswatter. I would call out one of the new words (ex: amiable instead of nice). The first person to slap the correct word on the board got a point for their team. They got REALLY into it. Especially when I made the last question worth 4 points so that either team could win. It also made me happy because the winning team didn't want one of students on their team and he ended up scoring the winning point. :-)
I've only taught this lesson to one class so far, but it was with my most uninvolved, least disciplined, and least respectful class. Since things went pretty well for that group, I'm excited to teach it to my more enjoyable classes.
The game went well. When I asked if they enjoyed it I got a loud chorus of "YES!" I told them if and when we did new words again, we could play again. It was nice to find that there is SOMETHING that can get my class of rocks to respond. It was also good because I practiced a little of getting respect from them. I waited until the whole class was quiet before I read the new word. After they noticed that, students were quieting down their classmates so that they could listen to me.