Force Choice is a game where participants have 2 options, and they HAVE to pick one of them in 5 seconds or less. With my students, its usually something like ice cream vs. candy, pizza vs. gum, sweeping vs. doing the dishes. When I played this game at camp, the comparisons would get more and more absurd. “Toilet paper roll flipped under? Or over?” “Tuesdays? Or split ends?” I have a lot of fun with this game because you can compare the most random things and kids get a kick out of it. (Tuesdays, definitely Tuesdays.)
After playing Force Choice, I passed out a worksheet explaining their assignment:
Hello, and welcome to your new job as a bus driver! Your team has been given a bus to take around the island of Kosrae. There are five seats left on the bus, but ten people want to get on your bus! Which ones will you take? Your job is to look at the reasons each passenger has given, and decide who you will bring and why. The five passengers who will not get to ride your bus need to know why, too, so each of them will need a reason as well.
On the first day, students worked independently to write 5 sentences- 1 for each person they would take and why. Here is our cast of characters:
Here are names and descriptions of the people who’d like to ride on your bus.
Louisa--Just started her new job last week and was late once after staying up all night with her young son, who was sick. If she is late again she will get a second warning, which could mean she will lose her job.
Will--A member of Congress who is riding the bus because he strongly supports public transportation and wants others to follow his example.
Gigi--Must get to the bus on time because she is going out with her friends to celebrate her birthday.
Tolik--Wants to ride the train because he is in love with Gigi. He is planning on declaring his love to her on the bus today.
Rocco--Needs to be on time to get to the airport, catch a flight to America and begin a year of studying abroad.
Anna--A group of business owners wants to build a parking garage on the grounds of the city park, and she needs to be on time for a meeting to keep the park from disappearing.
Julio--He dreams of being an actor; he has a tryout for the lead role in a new movie and cannot be late if he wants to get the role.
Lily--A 75-year-old woman going to babysit her grandchildren, whom she has not seen in more than a year.
Maya--A doctor who needs to get to the clinic on time to treat her patients.
Marina--On her way to the university; if she is more than ten minutes late, her teacher will lock the door and not let her in to take her final exam.
On the 2nd day, students are assigned to groups of three and work together to write ten sentences. One sentence for each person that will ride the bus and why as well as one for each person who cannot ride the bus and why. My male students have the tendency to pawn “group work” off on the females, so I assigned roles within the groups to keep everyone busy. One person’s job is to record, one person’s job is to present, and another person’s job is to make sure the group is speaking as much English as possible. The funny thing about being a teacher is realizing that teachers assign these roles intentionally and not at random.
One the 3rd day they finished up their sentences and then presented for the class. Ben also recommended an extension activity wherein students create their own force-choice-type simulation game, but we didn’t have time to do this with my students.
It was interesting to see where the kids went with their responses. Some of them really thought about themselves as bus drivers. Some of them got creative and added their own details about the characters. ALL of them fawned over Gigi and Tolik (that's 8th graders for ya!) Here are some of the more interesting responses, spelling/grammar intact:
- I will let Will ride the bus because he is strong and very supportive so he will guard all the people on the bus.
- I will not let Will ride the bus because he had lots of money to ride on taxi.
- I will not let Will ride the bus because he always ask questions when I was driving.
- I will pick Julio to ride the bus because I wan’t the people to see me that I’m driving a star.
- I will let Lily ride the bus because she want’s to see is grandchildren whom she has not seen in more than 10 years. She is a old woman and that’s why I choose her to ride my bus.
- I will let Gigi ride the bus because I want to eat some birthday cake.
- I will let Maya ride the bus because she is a beautiful girl.
- I will let Gigi ride the bus because I have a cousin name Gigi and he is short and look funny.
- I will let Tolik ride the bus because he is in love with Gigi. I want them to in love each other.
As the groups presented we kept a tally chart of the passengers everyone selected. Amongst all my students, the passengers selected to ride were Louisa, Marina, Lily, Maya, and Rocco.