It seems to me that grade one to three have a lot of vitality left in them, but when it gets to grade 4 the energy and interest levels seem to dwindle. Grade 6 reminds me of the Night of the Living Dead in slow motion. I have no clue as to how I can turn the situation around.
Use a water gun on them.
I forgot to mention that they are untouchable.
Give them as much play/free time as the little ones get, that’s the closest thing little Taipei kids get to officially mandated Free Thinking/Expression Time.
It isn’t their fault.
By the time you get them, the damage is done and will only get worse.
In other words, forget about it, it ain’t going to happen.
Just wait till they get to junior high!!! Sixth graders are nearing puberty so they are getting stranger and stranger… but they are also under more pressure. Lots of mine go to extra bushiban classes to prepare for entrance tests for private jr. high schools. If they are active in class or talk a lot (in English) I give them “homework coupons”. They can use them to get out of doing one homework assignment. They love it!! Of course there are lots of rules, only one can be used per class, can’t be used for tests… I print them on the back of fake money from the stationary store. Works wonders!!! And they don’t have so much pressure.
I always have a problem with the material that kids are taught at that age. Their English ability is not not on level with that of native speakers, and they often get stuck with topics and texts geared more towards second or third grade native speakers.
They get really excited when they can chat at the start of class about current topics…they can discuss anything from “Corpse Bride” to internet games (keeping in mind the student-teacher boundary of what is proper). However, their reading books and grammar books are really more for young kids.
I have started squeezing in reading sessions three times a week…anything like Harry Potter or The lion, the witch and the wardrobe, and they really like those. After the reading is done, they can take turns to take the books home.
I also had them do a whole “ME” collage project, like in Judy Moody, and invited the parents in to come see the presentation. The kids worked really hard knowing the parents would be there. I also use those tasks to get an idea of what they’re interested in.
But I still get sighs when we have to haul out the grammar books.