Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wanted: Your discussion topics

As long as I've got your attention with this whole "pulling teeth" thing, I thought I'd take it one step further and go ahead and tap the power of my peeps.

Next Wednesday I have to once again sit across the table from 8 "I'd rather be anywhere else than here" boys and attempt to engage them in meaningful some kind of conversation.

One idea I had was to create a meme type of thing where I hand them a list of things to respond to, and then go around the table and have them give their answers.

Another idea I had was for me to watch 100 hours of Fred Astaire footage between now and then and dazzle them with my newly-learned softshoe skilz.

A better idea is probably to ask for your input. So here I go:

What activities, discussion topics or questions would you use to engage a group of 9th grade boys in conversation?

They don't all have to be faith related. I've got enough canned material from their workbooks to keep them busy for about 20 of those minutes. It's the last 20 minutes that are eating my Tums.

Ready? GO!

38 comments:

rick said...

Go with what you know; pooping and farting. They should be the perfect audience.

Bill said...

Ask them how they will meet the future. Unlike animals, they have free will and can be as bad or good as they choose. Will they choose a happy well adjusted life, or will they choose to hold up a telephone pole,because they have taken the low road. Someday they will become could become the good or bad example that people will point out.

Michelle said...

Mmmm what music they listen to and what it means to them? How does it make them feel, and how do they use it to change how they feel (e.g., get happy when depressed, get up for a game)?

Yeah... I'm a lame chickie :)

Ed (zoesdad) said...

I do not envy you!

What about a who's your hero and why type thing--favorite athlete, musician...

Dave2 said...

12th grade girls.

Boom chicka chicak boom boom!

Kathy said...

Man, I have no idea. The meme should work, though. Add a splash of your humor and you're all set. If you're bombing, break out the Dear Diary. Just be prepared to pick their jaws up off the floor.

Oh, wait. Have them imagine they're 80 year old men, looking back on their lives. Ask them to tell you their biggest accomplishments. Or ask them their biggest fears (make it anonymous) and then discuss how those fears can be overcome.

Oh, this is hard. Too much brain power this early on a Sunday. Good luck. Hope you get better ideas than mine!

Anette said...

Maybe something about computers. Ask them for advice in some kind of a computer problem you have(or pretend to have) Thats a topic they probably know well, and they will feel good about helping an "elderly" out. What about the three things they would have brought with them on an desert island, and why?

Steve said...

This is the perfect time to have every electronic thing that broken finally get fixed.

Seriously, 9th grade boys are 3 years from college. Ask them what they will like about or expect from college. (This of course means you will hear how much they will NOT miss their parents.)

rick said...

Why do I keep picturing Ned Flanders?

Windyridge said...

How any of them can be president?

Babs (Beetle) said...

How old are 12th graders? :O)

Anonymous said...

what was on YOUR mind in 9th grade??! sis

Elizabeth said...

Ask them where they see themselves in 10 or 20 years. What job will they have? Will they have a family? What state, or country, will they be living in.
Good Luck!

Mom Thumb said...

I agree with Michelle. When my house was flooded with kids that age it was all about the music. And it is, coincidentally, something you know about. Hey, show them the pics of you in the leather pants and they will be rolling on the floor for 30 minutes. Today's kids think the eighties were ridonculous.

Jennine said...

I think having a guest speaker for those last 20 minutes is a good idea.

Bill would be perfect.

Jen - Queen of Poo said...

Cheeseburgers. Just bring lots of cheeseburgers.

kc said...

Oddly, my kids at school love talking about religions (which is tricky, it being a public school). What if you asked them what they know about other religions/denominations, clear up stereotypes and misconceptions, and show them how much we all really have in common?

Jeff said...

rick - Perfect! We could hold a contest! Longest... smelliest...loudest... the possibilities are endless.

bill - Thanks, good idea. I was thinking along the lines of asking them their favorite pizza toppings.

michelle - I like it. I'll add it to the list. Thanks!

ed - Perfect.

dave2 - I would definitely be voted "best facilitator" for that topic! By the boys I mean, not the staff ;-)

kathy - For someone who didn't have any idea you sure had a lot of good ideas. :-)

anette - I love it! Well, except maybe the part about helping the "elderly" ;-)

steve - Good point. 9th grade boys also need to hear about how their current grades impact their GPA for college later on. Can you tell I have high schoolers getting ready for college?

rick - The Simpsons! We could easily burn up an entire night talking about them. I'm sure I would receive a glowing review for that.

windy - Amen.

babs - Unfortunately I don't get that option.

sis - Oh yeah, I'll talk to them about the Partridge Family.

elizabeth - Great questions. Thanks for playing!

mom thumb - Wait... I'm supposed to try to make them laugh at my expense? DONE!

jennine - Great idea! A whole new audience who has never heard a Billism before!

jen - The key to a boy's heart.

kc - Good idea. I'll need to do some research of my own first.

Avitable said...

Depends on their level of geekiness.

At that age, asking things like:

What superpower would you have?

How would you spend a million dollars?

Who would win and why? Pick a mix of superheroes, wrestlers, and other known athletes.

What three items would they want on a desert island?

Just a few ideas.

cathouse teri said...

I would stay FAR away from asking them where they think their lives are going. That is the single most irritating thing in the world that is asked of teenage boys.

To engage them, talking about music (as suggested) or movies is good. But I would come up with a (short) list of recent movies that have some good potential in stimulating conversation about real life situations. Leading to "what would you have done?"

Gette said...

Watch "Facing the Giants" over the course of a couple periods, then talk about it when you're done. I have the breakout materials if you want to borrow them.

absepa said...

How about asking them, "If you could change any one thing about the world, what would it be?" I had a youth group leader ask that question at a retreat once--and he told us our answers could be as shallow or as deep as we wanted. It led to a really good discussion.

Maureen said...

Ask them how they would design a faith-based video game... what kind of tasks they would have to do, what kind of rewards they would earn, what kind of challenges they would put into it.

Boys that age love video games, no?

Maureen said...

... or even a trading card game, if video game seems too way out there...

Bill said...

Thanks Jennine. You must think that being 81 gives me wisdom. I guess I would ask the youngsters to tell me the difference between fun and happiness or sex and love. My advice for youth is to observe everything you can see and they will marvel at the beauty, design, amd order on earth. Consider how all humans share one sun for night, day, summer, and winter for survival. Scientists now tell us that we all have one female gene that started in Northwest Africa and spread around the world. I think I read about this woman in the bible. Other people insist that humans are upscaled monkeys. They also insist we let the monkeys out of the zoo because theeir rights have been violated. I think they may have already let some relatives out.

Mom said...

Maybe you could inject some humor, amd ask them "What did Noah say when his children asked if they could go fishing?" He said "O.K., but remember, we only have two worms!"

Heather said...

I think any kid just wants to be treated like their opinions matter and they are important. Ask them their opinions on the economy, cars, Hannah Montana, whatever.

I have a hard time picturing you at a loss for words, to be honest.

Roger said...

Break out the Karoake machine!

Other than that, I have nothing except maybe a nice craft, my kindergartners made a pretty cool little tamborine... never mind.

Good luck!

Lauren said...

Here's what I do in my classes. not just surly kids, surly kids who don't speak the language and if they do, are too shy to do so in front of me, their English teacher.

Ask them about pop culture. What do they do in their free time? What is the latest movie they saw? What did they like/hate about it? Why should you go see it. Etc..Etc. hope that helps

The Doozie said...

a farting contest
a burping contest
a scratching contest


Not many that age has any idea about the future or what they want out of it. Maybe you could ask them to use their imaginations and design a video game that incorporates values with real life situations?

Or maybe you could have them take off their shoes, and they have to put on someone elses, and then you can use that as a analogy of trying to "walk in someone elses shoes". Because if the shoes are too big or too small, they will get the idea of how difficult it is.

Maybe you can play bible balderdash, where they have to make up definitions for weird terms from the bible they might not know?

how about you play hacky sack, only not with your feet, just with hands, and if they drop the sack, they have to share something with the group>

i have a lot of ideas. I love kids

Jacki said...

I got nothing to add here. But I did laugh at the Ned Flanders remark. I totally see you as Ned Flanders.

Fancy Schmancy said...

I happen to have a 9th grade boy so here are some things I think may apply:

Computers
the internet/facebook
computer/video games/how do they feel about the violence?
abstinence
independence, respect and trust
privacy
sports
peer-pressure
how do they feel they could improve things with their parents?
how do they feel their parents could improve things with them?
how do they feel about current driving laws as they are not too far away from the age that may be changed in many states in the near future?

I could go on and on...

April said...

I think music is a great idea. Let them laugh at you for a while - show them some of the pics you've posted here - but then talk to them about what speaks to you, musically, and ask them about their musical tastes and why. I bet that would open up a whole bunch of avenues, especially if you let them bring in their favorite song, play it for the group, and say why they like it.
And now for my sappy part: it heartens me to know that some boys somewhere will be getting to experience you as a role model. So many males do not know how to be a man. I'm comforted that you actually do!

Jayson Cole (KrunkMode) said...

How can I be a certified mammagrom screener?

Jeff said...

avitable - Good ideas. Let's find out if they're as geeky as you are! ;b

teri - Heh... they would be teaching me about recent movies. I don't get off my block much.

gette - I would but I don't think I'll have time for that, or the hardware. They just toss us in whatever empty rooms are available at the time.

absepa - Good discussion is a good thing! Thanks for the idea.

maureen - I like it. There's a whole lotta drama and adventure in the Bible so that would probably make a pretty cool game concept.

bill - I've got you down for guest speaker on the 4th Wed. Don't be late.

mom - Keep em coming mom and I can do Christian stand-up with your material. Just think, I could rise to the top!

heather - Good ideas. And good point. If Mr. Know-It-All can BS his way through those questions, I should be able to talk about anything!

roger - Please send me the plans for the tambourine. You never know.

lauren - Thanks for input. My list of ideas is going to be huge!

doozie - GREAT ideas! And I especially love the Balderdash idea. The Bible is FULL of crazy words.

jacki - Easy now... Beside, I don't even have a mustache. ;-)

fancy - Wow. This was a great idea to ask you all. Thanks!

april - Thanks for the kind words. That was very sweet.

jayson - Let me guess... you don't work with church groups much do you? ;b

Sarah said...

i know i should be able to help but i can't! I am a girl, not a boy so that puts me at a disadvantage. how about sports? or i bet they would love to here some of your stories from the band. the appropriate ones jeff.

Mrs. R said...

Sorry, I'm a little late to the party, per usual, but seriously, if you are still reading comments on this post and are still looking for suggestions, e-mail me privately. I do high school youth ministry...

Anonymous said...

:)