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Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Like Game

This blog is, like, about kids, ya’ know, who, like, punctuate their stories with hesitators, like like, um, and ya’ know, ya’ know. Though they are easier to listen to than they are to read, they drive me nuts either way. I discovered this pet peeve while driving my daughter and her friends around during their middle school years. It seemed they could only communicate if “like” was laced throughout their narrative so I decided to play with their minds a bit and made up The Like Game. They were allowed to tell their stories, but had to stop immediately when they said their first “like”. The story then passed to the next girl. They loved the challenge, the competition, and the camaraderie. It also significantly diminished their reliance on hesitators.
In class we will periodically do this with the um word. When students begin their narrative, whatever it may be, they must start over if they begin with or use the word “um”. This serves several purposes: students are encouraged to formulate a concise answer; students become aware of hesitator words; other students are engaged in listening to their peers, ostensibly for the “um’s” and ideally for the content.  They love the challenge, the competition, and the camaraderie.
I am careful to do this only when we are discussing previous or known topics. I do not further clutter their thinking with this game when they are acquiring new information, as I believe, um, it is, like, very important they are free to think, ya’ know.

5 comments:

  1. They loved this game. Through high school, the kids would seek Dave out to play the game . . . they were so animated in their stories.

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  2. Teaching games like this are an excellent idea - clarity and focus are good things to highlight from a young age. Public speaking is a huge fear for many people, and this may stem from the fact that many kids don't know how to say what they mean concisely when they're speaking normally, let alone in front of many other people. A game that may also help is one I play with my younger cousins to get them to do the same kind of focus thing - I give them a topic and one minute to prepare. They have to, in 30 seconds, tell me their arguments for that topic. Points are docked if they use hesitators or if they pause for too long. I designed the game, not only to discourage hesitators, but also to encourage smooth transitions and quick thinking. I was amazed when my little five year-old cousin asked to play as well, and gave a heartwarming presentation on dinosaurs. It's a lot better when kids their own age encourage one another, not just you, so inventing a game like this is a great move on your part. Keep up the good work :)

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  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCNIBV87wV4

    You may find this intriguing. It's some poetic commentary on common filler words.

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  4. Thanks, Jen. Very good. I'll be sharing this at school.

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