Friday, March 25, 2005

Totally Kafka-ed Out

I had eight people in today's Terminale - L class. They're good students and they speak pretty good English, so I knew I could count on them to do a good job with a high-level exercise.

The premise is that there was a nasty murder (or something heinous) last night, and everybody is a suspect. They were all in pairs. Give them 10 minutes to work together to construct an alibi, then pick a pair.

One of them is sent out of the room and the other is kept and questioned. Then the exiled person comes back and also gets questioned. If their stories don't match up then it's pretty clear we're dealing with at least one guilty party.

So I decided to spruce the place up a bit while the suspects were out of the room. We closed off the sunlight with the blinds, turned most of the lights out, and arranged the room as a semicircle facing the suspects' table. In other words, we made it SCARY.

It was a riot! The questioners really got into it and did an excellent job of pushing for little details and in general letting the Accused know that this tribunal was not their friend. It was funny, it was scary, it was fantastic. It seems if you just let smart kids run with what language skills they've got, you get really good results.

Score one for them, one for Kafka, and one for me (because I didn't have to do any actual work).


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