Friday, June 16, 2006

Messing with their heads

Today I had my low level class, the one with the students who copy everything I write on the whiteboard, in some cases including the colours. I wasn't thinking about this when I started writing on the board today, but first I wrote something in black, and then later went back and picked up the first available pen and it was blue, and yet later went back and added a word or two in red. I was pleased because every pen I'd tried so far worked. It is unusual to have so many working pens on the little ledge.

Shortly after that I was wandering around and sure enough, there was a student faithfully copying everything I'd written in glorious tricolour, his pens all lined up neatly. Every time I'd switched colour, so did he. A couple of other students were doing the same thing. Most of my students write in pencil, and not only in pencil but in very light pencil, so that their notebooks often look blank until you peer closely. Students using pens are a rarity, and I am happy to have three or four in one class.

The university only provides blue, black and red pens for the whiteboards, but just for these pen-wielding students I am thinking of buying my own, extra colours. Some green would be nice, I think. Also, purple, if I can find it. I don't think yellow would show up too well, but orange might, and pink, if it's bright enough.

I'd better not introduce too many new colours at one time, though. If I produce a colour they don't have a corresponding pen for it might cause a panic. But if I introduce the new colours one at a time, and only use the new one for one or two especially important words in the first week, they'll be able to prepare themselves for the next week's festive explosion of colour.

Most of the time I feel like a failure in this class. But today I decided to feel happy that even if my students haven't managed to produce anything much resembling the English language by the end of semester, at least a few of them have produced something pretty to look at.

(I think they need better illustrations, though. Today I noticed that my stick figures (red, mostly) had been copied far too accurately. Perhaps I'll take drawing lessons, too.)


StyleyGeek said...

Yes, I've noticed many of my Asian students only ever write in pencil too. Including their assignments and exams, no matter how many times I've asked them to use ink.

Do you have any idea why this is? Are they made to use pencils as children at school?

Presumably it has something to do with being able to erase mistakes more easily, but that doesn't explain why it's only the Asian students who do it, when the Australian students make easily as many mistakes, if not more!

Writer Mom said...

I copied this hilarious post word for word, including the blue you used for "including the colours."


Kay said...

Ya know, badaunt, it is not just your posts, and it is not just the world they bring back (tho that is a BIG part of it), it is your 'tude that keeps me going one more day! Party on!!!

She Weevil said...

Loving your new look here and wanting one of those lovely cappucinos below. I thought they were camera trickery to begin with but everyone else seems to think they're genuine. The only thing you get in your cappucino in Plymouth is a blob monster thing. Oh to be in the sticks now that summer's here.

Lippy said...

What would really cause a panic is if you used multiple colours in one word...

kenju said...

You might give some of them a heart attack (or cause a riot) if you used colors they didn't have with them.....LOL

It is so funny that they would copy the colors also!

Thanks for the visit while I was gone, and thanks for the link!

Kevin B. said...


If you want to REALLY mess with their heads, you should alternate colors as you have done in this post, wait for the students to copy it down, then go back and erase some words of a particular color and then re-write the words, but in another color-- won't they be mystified?